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Obama set to veto 9/11 victims’ bid to sue Saudis

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WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is poised to veto legislation exposing Saudi Arabia to court action over the 9/11 attacks, stepping in to defend legal precedent and an awkward ally, but inviting election-time opprobrium.

White House officials say Obama will reject the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” by a Friday veto deadline, after a little over a week of deliberation.

The administration is worried the bill — passed unanimously by Congress — would undermine state immunity, setting a dangerous legal precedent.

Obama’s aides tried and failed to have the legislation substantially revised, and now face the prospect of Republicans and Democrats joining forces to override the presidential veto, a relatively rare rebuke of White House power.

Families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for the law — convinced that the Saudi government had a hand in the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, but no link to the government has been proven. The Saudi government denies any links to the plotters.

“Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks,” said widow Terry Strada.

Strada gave birth days before her husband, Tom, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in World Trade Center Tower One.

Behind the scenes, Riyadh has been lobbying furiously for the bill to be scrapped.

A senior Saudi Prince reportedly threatened to pull billions of dollars out of US assets if it becomes law, but Saudi officials now distance themselves from that claim.

The US-Saudi relationship had already been strained by Obama’s engagement with Saudi’s Shia foe Iran and the July release of a secret report on Saudi’s involvement in the attacks.

Declassified documents showed US intelligence had multiple suspicions about links between the Saudi government and the attackers.

“While in the United States, some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government,” a finding read.

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