Federal bill would give terror victims ability to sue nations that fund attack

By Judy L. Randall Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A bill that seeks to deter international terrorism on U.S. soil, and give access to justice for those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists, was introduced Monday by New York members of Congress.

It is a response, they said, to 9/11 victim claims that have gained little traction.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) aims to hold accountable foreign sponsors if they are financially linked to a terror attack, said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.).

Schumer said the legislation “will finally correct an egregious error within our court system that has prevented victims of 9/11 from obtaining recourse against those who helped sponsor the attacks.”

King called JASTA “essential to the deterrence of international terrorism on American soil.”

The lawmakers said a number of court decisions have blocked terror-related claims that Congress intended to permit, including one that said sovereign immunity protected charities of the Saudi government from victims’ claims.

JASTA would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act so foreign sponsors of terrorism cannot invoke a defense of sovereign immunity in cases that arise from a terror attack on America.

JASTA also would amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 to permit civil suits in U.S. courts against foreign sponsors when their conduct contributes to an act of terrorism.

Schumer and King said JASTA would empower 9/11 victims to achieve justice.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) is an original co-sponsor of the measure.

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