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Judge says al Qaeda, Iran, Taliban should pay $6b for 9/11

By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 3:45 PM EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A judge rules that al Qaeda, the Taliban, Iran and Hezbollah should pay billions in damages
  • The move is considered a symbolic gesture without expectation of collection
  • Federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas made the ruling Monday
  • Iran has maintained that it was not involved in the attacks

New York (CNN) -- A federal magistrate judge has ruled that al Qaeda, the Taliban, Iran and Hezbollah should pay more than $6 billion in damages to the families of victims killed on September 11, 2001, for supporting the attacks.

The move is considered a symbolic gesture without expectation of collection of penalties for the relatives.

Federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas made the ruling Monday, after federal Judge George Daniels decided last year that the militant groups and Iran were liable.

The initial filing made in 2003 had identified Iraq for its purported role in supporting the attacks, though attorneys withdrew it as a defendant when authorities later considered those claims unfounded.

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Iran also has maintained that it was not involved in the 9/11 attacks.

"I think the claim that (Iran) is complicit is a big one," said CNN Security Analyst Peter Bergen. "There's a difference between acquiescence and complicity."

The 9/11 Commission Report mentions contact between al Qaeda and Iran-supported Hezbollah militants, which are based largely in southern Lebanon, where they received training and advice.

The report also pointed to Iranian border inspectors who were told not to stamp the passports of al Qaeda members and who had facilitated travel of the would-be hijackers.

But the report also stated that "we have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack."

In October, 2011, Maas determined that al Qaeda should face $9.3 billion in penalties for the businesses and properties destroyed and damaged in the 2001 attacks.

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