New York: Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iran should pay $6 billion to relatives of September 11 victims for aiding in the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal magistrate judge recommended in a largely symbolic decision.
Even though it will be nearly impossible to collect damages, plaintiff Ellen Saracini, whose husband, Victor, was the captain of one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center, told the Daily News that she is happy about Manhattan Federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas' recommendation.
"It's hard being happy, but I am happy about it," said Saracini. "But it opens up old wounds. We were never in it for a lawsuit. I wanted to know what happened to my husband."
Last year, Judge George Daniels signed a default judgment on the lawsuit brought by relatives of 47 victims. He found al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iran liable and asked the magistrate to determine damages. Maas' ruling Monday is a recommendation to Daniels, who can accept it or amend it.
Maas calculated punitive and compensatory damages for each of the plaintiffs and their lost family members. Daniels ruled last year that the plaintiffs had established that the 2001 attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al-Qaeda.
The findings said Iran continues to provide material support and resources to al-Qaeda by providing a safe haven for al-Qaida leadership and rank-and-file members. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied any Iranian connection in the September 11 attacks or with al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda and Iran are natural enemies but have had a relationship of convenience based on their shared adversary, the United States. Iran allowed several of the 9/11 hijackers to pass through the country, but the 9/11 Commission found no evidence that Iran was aware of the planned attack.