Headlines that have recently hit the media say that the Saudis are threatening to sell off assets worth hundreds of billions of US dollars if the congress passes the 9/11 report.
But according to a report by Moon of Alabama, it is not the Saudis who are making threats, it’s actually congress who are threatening to seize Saudi U.S. assets:
It is the U.S. Congress that is threatening to lift the immunity of nation states in front of U.S. courts:
The Senate bill is intended to make clear that the immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil. If the bill were to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president, it could clear a path for the role of the Saudi government to be examined in the Sept. 11 lawsuits.
Under the bill a civil U.S. person could file in a U.S. court against nation states for acts or omissions(!) of that nation state related to some “terrorist act”. U.S. courts are notorious for dubious rulings against foreign states, impounding and seizing huge assets of such states.
In 2012 Congress passed a law that specifically allowed victims of terrorist attacks allegedly related to Iran to collect judgements against the Iranian state. Judges started to rule in favor of billions in compensatory damages to victims and to impound even assets of Iranian charities. One of these cases and the anti-Iranian law are now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Immunity against such judgements is standard international law and known as “acta iure imperii” – the principal that no foreign court can judge the liability of a nation state for acts and omissions in the exercise of the nation state’s authority.
Should the U.S. Congress break that principal, any foreign national wealth fund, pension fund or otherwise state related institution could have its U.S. assets impounded under this or that dubious terrorism judgement.
The Saudis would be utterly stupid to leave even a penny invested in the U.S. or in U.S. bonds should that law pass.
This not because the Saudi state had something to do or not with 9/11. Even a claim that the Saudi state somehow neglected to prevent some of its nationals to commit terrorism could, under the new law, be enough to seize U.S. investment of a Saudi national wealth fund. The Saudis said they would withdraw their $750 billion in U.S. assets should the law pass. That would be simply a necessary and prudent move and announcing that move is not “a threat”.
If the law should pass not only the Saudis but any other nation state could and should pass similar laws and allow their use against the United States. Some Russian widow of a solider who died years ago from wounds received in Afghanistan by U.S. supported Mujaheddin, aka terrorists, could have U.S assets in Russia seized as compensation. Many South America countries have fought against U.S. instigated terrorism. There are many victims who could sue over such cases and there are many U.S. assets to seize.
To sue against U.S. assets under such laws would be a profitable business for some enterprising lawyers. One wonders how Congress would react when the first U.S. assets get seized.