WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — On Tuesday, the US Senate passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in a rare, unanimous vote of approval. If the bill becomes law, it would enable the family members and victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks to proceed with a pending lawsuit against Saudi Arabia.
"I hope he [Obama] doesn’t veto it, but if he does, we have the opportunity to override it," Strada said, noting the overwhelming support given to the bill in the US Senate.
Strada is the widow of September 11 victim Tom Strada and heads the 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. She is also the lead congressional liaison for the activist group and regular lobbies Congress on behalf of September 11 survivors and family members.
In late April, Obama threatened to veto the JASTA legislation if it reached his desk, warning it could jeopardize US relations with Saudi Arabia and subject US citizen to legal reprisal abroad. To override a veto, both houses of Congress must stand up a two-thirds majority to pass the legislation.
Strada, who was lobbying members of the House or Representatives on Wednesday, said she is hopeful the bill can pass both houses of Congress, causing the president to reassess his position.
"I don’t know if by then [Obama] will be convinced that it’s good policy to hold the bankrollers accountable for the murder of American citizens… Or he can continue to side with and protect the Saudis," she observed. "At some point I hope he would come back to our side."
Strada and a number of other 9/11 families have an outstanding lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia that has been repeatedly blocked from coming to trial by Saudi claims to diplomatic immunity. Such claims would lose effect under JASTA.
Terry Strada also claims that successful passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) will enable the families of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to expose Saudi funding for the attacks.
If the legal case is allowed to proceed under JASTA, Strada explained on Wednesday, "I do believe there is evidence that will shed light on the level of activity the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had in these attacks."
"If JASTA is enacted, it will enable the courts to finally hear our lawsuit… We can finally hold accountable the people that were financially responsible in giving logistical support to the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks," Strada claimed.
"So as long as they can invoke sovereign immunity and not be held liable in a courtroom, we can't introduce our evidence," Strada noted.
If allowed to proceed with the case, Strada explained that the 9/11 families and victims "will get the justice we deserve," but also serve as a deterrent for future terrorist attacks.
"Right now there is no recourse," Strada said, adding that JASTA would dramatically change that. "If you fund terrorist attacks against United States citizens on American soil, we can and will hold you accountable in a US court."