Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families

Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families
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A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

In a default — and largely symbolic — judgement, U.S. District Judge George Daniels ordered the Islamic Republic and various entities to pay $12.5 million per spouse, $8.5 million per parent or child and $4.25 million per sibling. 

The ruling faults Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the deaths of the more than 1,000 whose families joined the lawsuit. 

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The lawsuit was first filed in 2004. But it wasn't allowed to proceed until 2016, after Congress passed a measure permitting the families of 9/11 victims to sue state actors for the terror attacks.

That law, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, was initially vetoed by then-President Obama, who argued that it could set a precedent that would open the U.S. up to similar lawsuits. Congress swiftly overrode that veto.

The ruling against Iran is part of a broader case seeking to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Last month, Daniels rejected a bid by Riyadh to have that lawsuit tossed out.

Despite the ruling, it is almost certain that Iran will not pay the damages. The Islamic Republic never responded to the lawsuit, and there is no feasible way to force Tehran to pay.