A US judge has formally ordered Iran, al-Qaeda and several other defendants to pay $6-billion compensation to the victims of September 11, 2001, in a largely symbolic ruling.
Although Iran denies any connection to 9/11, it was included in the list of alleged culprits by the US District Court in New York, along with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Afghanistan’s Taliban guerrillas and al-Qaeda, which took credit for the massive terror attack.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also named.
However, the money, awarded for economic, personal and punitive damages for a total of $6,048,513,805, is unlikely to be recovered.
Iran is in a tense standoff with the United States over multiple issues, especially its nuclear industry and alleged plan to build an atomic weapon. Iranian-backed Hezbollah has no relations with the United States.
Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who is also named, was killed by US Navy SEALs in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011. The Taliban are in an active war with US-led troops across Afghanistan.
The ruling caps a series of court decisions prompted by lawsuits filed by families of 47 victims from among the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11.
Last year, Judge George Daniels signed a judgment in favour of the plaintiffs. A magistrate then calculated the recommended compensation, which Daniels yesterday approved in his ruling.
Bin Laden and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, in which hijacked airliners were used to bring down the World Trade Center towers in New York and to crash into the Pentagon near Washington, DC.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan at the time and were giving shelter to al-Qaeda. Iran was blamed by the US court partly because some of the hijackers passed through the country on their way to carrying out the attacks.