More than 16 years after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the parents, spouses, siblings, and children of nearly 3,000 victims who died on 9/11 could be receiving financial compensation for their loss.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in New York ordered Iran to pay billions to the relatives of victims, according to ABC News. The order, issued by Judge George B. Daniels, finds the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for the deaths of thousands of American citizens.
A lawsuit from the families of victims was filed back in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it was allowed to move forward in court after Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The bill made Iran liable for providing assistance to extremists who hijacked the planes on 9/11, even though the 9/11 Commission never found evidence of direct Iranian support.
The damages awarded to various relatives all range in the millions. They include $12.5 million per spouse, $8.5 million per parent, $8.5 million per child, and $4.25 million per sibling. “In December 2011, a New York federal court held a hearing and found that the evidence presented established that Iran’s provision of material support to al-Qaeda was a cause of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting damage, injuries, and deaths,” said attorney Robert Haefele, who represents the families.
“It is difficult for those injured or left behind to ignore the findings of the federal court about Iran’s culpability," Haefele continued, according to ABC News. "But those findings should not overshadow the mountain of evidence presented against Saudi Arabia, which remains central to the plaintiffs’ case.”
The judgment is considered to be more of a symbolic gesture, and few expect that Iran will ever respond to the lawsuit, let alone provide a payout to the families. The decision is part of an even larger case against Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 terrorists in the 9/11 attacks were from.