Judge awards 9/11 families $6 billion

Aug. 1, 2012 at 11:13 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A New York City judge awarded $6 billion to the families of Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack victims in their lawsuit against al-Qaida and parties in Iran.

U.S. Magistrate Frank Maas' Monday ruling was the first to impose civil penalties against those responsible for the 2001 terror plot that killed nearly 3,000 people, the New York Daily News reported.

The $6 billion would be paid out to 110 survivors and the estates of 47 victims, including Victor Saracini, who was the captain of United Airlines Flight 175, which struck the south tower of the World Trade Center.

"It's hard being happy, but I am happy about it," said Saracini's wife, Ellen, of Yardley, Pa. "But it opens up old wounds. We were never in it for a lawsuit. I wanted to know what happened to my husband."

It is unclear whether the plaintiffs will actually receive any money.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Tom Mellon said his legal team may seek the seizure of Iranian state assets overseas.

Last year, U.S. District Judge George Daniels found Iran, its Grand Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the regime's Lebanese client, Hezbollah, aided al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Mellon said international seizures are common in the business world, "but in the terror world, this is uncharted territory."

Saracini said she doesn't care about the money.

"I never was in this for the money. I wanted accountability," she said. "The money will never bring back my husband, so I don't care about it."

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