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Monday, April 12, 2004
bin Laden Brother-in-Law Khalifa Moves To Be Dropped From 9/11 Suit
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, has filed a motion to have his name removed from a lawsuit seeking damages for the September 11 attack.
Khalifa is one of more than 200 co-defendants named in a suit filed by law firm Motley Rice on behalf of more than 500 families of people killed in the September 11 attack. The lawsuit seeks redress from individuals suspected of financially supporting terrorism and al Qaeda, many of whom are Saudi businessmen like Khalifa.
According to the U.S. and Philippines governments, Khalifa acted as a major financier of al Qaeda during the 1990s, moving funds and resources around the country on behalf of al Qaeda and bin Laden, whose sister is married to Khalifa.
However in several media interviews and court cases, Khalifa has consistently and vocally denied any link to terrorism and any wrongdoing whatsoever. Khalifa, who lives freely in Saudi Arabia, was temporarily detained by the Saudi government after the September 11 attack and has publicly condemned bin Laden since being released. He repeated these claims in the new filing, which seeks to remove his name from the list of defendants.
Around the late 1980s or early 1990s, Khalifa founded the Philippines branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), which has been designated a terrorist financing organization by the United States and other countries.
In numerous U.S. court filings and several Philippines investigative documents, Khalifa has been specifically and repeatedly accused of financing and otherwise assisting terrorist activities in the Philippines, where he is suspected of funneling al Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf Group in the southern Philippines through IIRO and other business and charitable fronts.
INTELWIRE has reviewed hundreds of pages of U.S. criminal, civil and immigration court documents relating to Khalifa. Additionally, some formerly classified Philippines investigative documents have been provided to INTELWIRE by Motley Rice. Some, but not all, of the claims in these various documents have been independently verified.
The Philippines documents have provided the basis for almost all major media reports concerning Khalifa's ties to al Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf, but other links have been uncovered in court filings related to Chicago's Benevolence International Foundation, a 1995 civil court case in which Khalifa sued the U.S. government, INS reports, contemporary media reports of Khalifa's INS proceedings, and material related to a 1996 prosecution of Ramzi Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad.
Furthermore, according to a list published by the Jewish Defense Organization, Khalifa (along with bin Laden) was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an al Qaeda-linked plot to blow up New York City landmarks in 1993.
According to the new filing, "Khalifa has absolutely no connection with the tragic events of September 11, 2001, nor does he support those that brought them about." The filing also argues that the suit has no jurisdiction to reach Khalifa due to Khalifa's minimal connection to the United States.
An attached affadavit repeats this claim, further asserting that Khalifa has visited the United States twice, once "during the eighties" and once in 1994. At the conclusion of the 1994 visit, Khalifa was detained by the INS for nearly six months. (See INS Deported Mohammed Jamal Khalifa Just Days After Oklahoma Bombing; Gov't Returned Evidence, Erased Charges.)
In his filing, Khalifa argues that the charges leveled by Motley Rice in its amended complaint (PDF) are "completely without merit," but does not specifically address what it claims are "factual errors" in the complaint. The motion focuses primarily on issues having to do with jurisdiction.
Khalifa's motion was filed in the Southern District of New York on April 10.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
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