A Saudi Arabia official said a bill that would allow families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to sue nations harboring terror could lead to even more extremism and sets a “dangerous precedent,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
The bill, called Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives Friday. President Barack Obama announced earlier this week he would veto the measure. However, with such fervid support on both sides of the aisle for JASTA, it’s very possible Obama’s veto could be overridden for the first time during his presidency.
The speaker of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, which advises the government, said JASTA could make recruiting easier for terrorist organizations.
"This legislation sets a dangerous precedent in the field of international relations," Abdullah Al al-Sheikh said to Saudi-run news agency SPA, according to Reuters. "[The bill risks] triggering chaos and instability in international relations and might contribute to supporting extremism, which is under intellectual siege, as the new legislation offers extremists a new pretext to lure youths to their extremist thoughts."
Ever since the attacks 15 years ago and because 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the nation’s been accused of ties to the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. But the government has fervidly denied any links to the hijackers or the planning of the coordinated attacks.
Before the bill passed in the House, many U.S. foreign allies had panned JASTA, citing potential violations of sovereignty. According to the New York Times, JASTA would essentially lift a 1976 law that grants immunity to other countries for U.S. lawsuits. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the current law also protects Americans.
“The concept of sovereign immunity is one that protects the United States as much as any other country in the world,” Earnest said Monday. “It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members, or even U.S. companies, into courts around the world.”