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Monday, June 20, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Lawsuit demands 'full truth' on Iran's complicity' in 9/11 attacks

WASHINGTON — Iran has been accused of direct involvement in the Al Qaida suicide air strikes on New York and Washington in 2001.


The families of more than 3,000 victims of the Al Qaida attacks have filed suit in U.S. district court in New York that accused Iran of participation in the mass-casualty plot. The plaintiffs have called on the U.S. government to declassify documents that link the Teheran regime to air crashes on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Today, nearly a decade after the attacks that took so many of our loved ones away, we believe the 9/11 families and the American people deserve to know the full truth about Iran's complicity," Thomas Mellon, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said.

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The suit, Havlish vs Bin Laden, stemmed from Fiona Havlish, whose husband perished in the World Trade Center when Al Qaida slammed two hijacked passenger jets into the New York skyscraper. Attorneys from eight U.S. law firms, citing the 9/11 Commission, have asserted that Iran used Imad Mughniyeh as its liasion to Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported. Mughniyeh, who served as operations chief of the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah until his assassination in Syria in 2008, was described as a leading planner of the attacks.

"The 9/11 Commission discovered, just days before publication of its report, important U.S. intelligence documents that detailed Iran's involvement in aiding and abetting the 9/11 plot,” Mellon said.

In its 2004 report, the 9/11 Commission, based on a six-page classified U.S. intelligence analysis, urged the United States to investigate the relationship between Al Qaida and Iran. But the attorneys said Washington did not comply. Instead, the attorneys worked with commission staffers as well as former Iranian intelligence officers to pursue the Iranian link to Al Qaida.

"Our experts, including three former 9/11 Commission staff members, have stated that the evidence is 'clear and convincing' that the Islamic Republic of Iran was involved in the 9/11 attacks,” Timothy Fleming, the lead investigative attorney, said.

Mughniyeh had long been sought by the United States. He was accused of masterminding the attacks on the U.S. embassy and Marine Corps barracks in 1983 in which more than 300 people were killed. He was also said to have killed American hostages in Lebanon, including CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, and Marine Lt. Col. Richard Higgins.

The attorneys said Mughniyeh and senior Iranian officials helped Al Qaida escape Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion. Iran was said to have provided safe haven to Al Qaida commanders.

In its final report, the 9/11 Commission did not identify Mughniyeh. Instead, the panel asserted that a "senior Hizbullah operative visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there" and boarded the same flight as several of the Al Qaida attackers to Iran in October 2000 and February 2001.

"We have compelling evidence that the 'senior Hizbullah operative' was Imad Mughniyeh," Dennis Pantazis, one of the attorneys, said.

Iran has not presented a defense of the suit, and the district court clerk entered a default against Teheran. Havlish and the co-plaintiffs have asked the federal court to rule on the case.

"These families have waited nearly 10 years to hear the truth," Pantazis said. "Under the scrutiny of a federal judge, hopefully this will be accomplished in the next few months."

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