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U.S. justices ask for Obama's views in September 11 case against banks

U.S. Supreme Court Justices gather for an official picture at the Supreme Court in Washington
U.S. Supreme Court Justices gather for an official picture at the Supreme Court in Washington

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked President Barack Obama's administration to weigh in on whether victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York could pursue claims against banks they have accused of indirectly helping Islamic militants.

The victims appealed after an April ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that complaints against banks and entities accused of indirectly aiding the perpetrators could be dismissed. Those victims included family members of nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.

The bank defendants dismissed by the ruling include Al Rajhi Bank, Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust, Dallah Al Baraka Group LLC and Saudi American Bank, now known as Samba Financial group.

Separately, the appeals court also dismissed several individuals and companies from the case.

The appeals court said allegations against the banks over material support for terrorism could go ahead if there was a more direct relationship between the bank and a particular militant action.

The case before the high court is just one element of the multi-district litigation filed by victims against a wide range of defendants. The attacks were orchestrated by Osama bin Laden under the auspices of the al Qaeda militant group. The U.S. military killed bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

The court said Justice Elena Kagan had recused herself from the case, presumably because of her previous role as solicitor general under Obama.

Once the Obama administration files a brief in the case, the court will decide whether to hear it. The court term runs through late June.

The case is In re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-318.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller)

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