In a blockbuster ruling, Federal Judge George Daniels in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York issued an order stating that Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite terror proxy, Hizballah, are jointly responsible together with al-Qa’eda for the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The long-awaited ruling came in the cases of Havlish, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., and Bingham, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., lawsuits filed by families of 9/11 victims. The cases provided clear and compelling evidence that Iranian officials at the top levels of the Tehran regime played a key role in planning and facilitating the 9/11 attacks and, even more specifically, that they provided direct and material support to al-Qa’eda without which the attacks could not have taken place. This week, Judge Daniels agreed.
Lead attorney for both cases, Thomas E. Mellon, Jr. of Doylestown, Pennsylvania of the law firm of Mellon Webster & Shelly, and Timothy Fleming of the Washington, D.C. office of Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis, in Birmingham, Alabama headed a consortium of eight law firms across the United States and built a team of investigators and expert witnesses who collectively logged thousands of hours over the course of nine long years to compile the evidence. The team was doggedly committed, on behalf of the 9/11 victims, their family members, and the American people, to provide the full truth about Iran’s complicity in the horrific attacks of that day and to see Iran and Hizballah, as well as al-Qa’eda, held accountable for the devastation they caused.
Based on its last-minute discovery just days before the 2004 publication of its report of thousands of classified intelligence reports that described what the U.S. Intelligence Community knew about the Iran-al-Qa’eda relationship, the Commission called explicitly on the U.S. government to conduct further investigation of that relationship. As of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, however, there was no indication the U.S. government had conducted any such investigation nor did it appear to have any intent or willingness to do so.
So, taking the 9/11 Commission Report as its starting point, the Havlish team undertook that “further investigation,” relying primarily on open source material. In addition, the Havlish attorneys took 25 hours of sworn testimony (filed under seal) from three former Iranian intelligence officers, who described the direct participation of top Iranian government officials and also of Imad Mughniyah, the Hizballah terror chieftain assassinated in February 2008, who was the key liaison for training and terror operations between Iran and al-Qa’eda for many years.
As detailed on pg. 240 of the Commission’s final report, a “senior Hezbollah operative” (Mughniyah) accompanied some of the future 9/11 hijackers on their final airline flights around the Middle East, into and out of Afghanistan, Iran, and Lebanon. In addition to directing Mughniyah’s extensive involvement in recruiting, guiding, and training the hijackers, Iran provided critical material support to those hijackers by ordering its border and passport officials to not stamp their passports when they crossed Iranian territory, thereby ensuring the hijackers eventually could enter the U.S. with “clean” passports.
Nor did Iranian support to al-Qa’eda end with the 9/11 attacks. Top al-Qa’eda leadership, including Usama bin-Laden, family members, and other important commanders such as Saif al-Adl, fleeing the battles of Tora Bora in late 2001-early 2002, found safehaven inside Iran. There, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s decades-long personal relationships with key regime figures, including Iran’s current Defense Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, and a series of Iranian intelligence directors, smoothed the way for hundreds of al-Qa’eda operatives to live and continue directing terror attacks under the protection of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the IRGC’s Qods Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Even after Usama bin-Laden, Saif al-Adl, and others returned to the wilds of the Afghan-Pakistan border region, Iran continued to provide support, training, and weapons (especially IEDs and the lethal EFPs or Explosively Formed Projectiles) to al-Qa’eda terror militias in Iraq and to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Today Ellen Saracini, the widow of Victor Saracini, Captain of United Flight 175, the second aircraft to hit the World Trade Center; Fiona Havlish, whose husband Donald Havlish died in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11; Alice Hoagland, lead plaintiff in the Bingham case, who is the mother of 9/11 hero Mark Bingham, one of the passengers on United Flight 93; and thousands of other family members who lost loved ones that awful day at last know that al-Qa’eda did not act alone in carrying out those attacks. And the U.S. government now knows that the information it tried so hard and for so long to keep secret from the American people is out and that those citizens will be demanding answers and accountability, not just from al-Qa’eda, Iran, and Hizballah, but from their elected and appointed leadership.
Clare M. Lopez is an Expert Witness in the Havlish case and co-authored one of the case affidavits, which may be found online here: http://information.iran911case.com/Exhibit_6.pdf