JASTA is an insult to all Arabs

all Arabs should react to JASTA by taking new legal actions so that the US and other international powers realize that Arabs have the ability to influence

Waheed Abdul Majid
Waheed Abdul Majid
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The importance of a law usually lies in its texts and consequences. However, the message behind the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), seems more important that its content and consequences, especially since it is the basis on which lawsuits can be filed by the 9/11 attack victims’ relatives.

This law stipulates that those who want to file such lawsuits, should gather evidence that the independent investigation committee could not find after investigating the terrorist act. In this case, it would have been easier to find such evidence directly when investigating.

Contrary to what it is commonly believed, JASTA does not provide new elements for those who are looking for alleged evidence about involvement of Saudi government officials or employees in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

The text that was released again is the same that was issued before with one important amendment. Based on the initiative of Senator John Cornyn, a number of Congress members have introduced amendments to the original draft before voting on it.

Under this amendment, the law will work according to the American court methodology, which is not to look into the allegations of indirect involvement or the so-called secondary responsibility for the terrorist acts. This is the basis upon which the American anti-terrorism law was issued on October 26, 2001, known as the Patriot Act.

All Arabs should react to JASTA by taking new legal actions so that the US and other international powers realize that Arabs have the ability to influence.

Dr. Waheed Abdul Majid

Despite the fact that JASTA violates the principle of sovereign immunity, which is one of the pillars of international law, it does not allow judgments based on allegations of high responsibility, which means that the law has to still abide by the Patriot Act.

This means that the applicant should provide evidence that the accused is directly and primarily responsible.

This is a difficult, and even impossible task in the case of the 2001 attacks, especially since all the direct perpetrators are known already.

However, even if JASTA does not allow the condemnation of an Arab state, it represents an insult to all Arabs. Underlying this law is a serious message that it is possible to deal with the Arabs according to any decision taken by the Congress or any other committee, and not according to what the law of international relations specifies. the It is not only the Saudi government that this message has offended.

Therefore, all Arabs should react to JASTA by taking new legal actions so that the US and other international powers realize that Arabs have the ability to influence, even when going through the most difficult stage in their recent history.

Quick action needed

What is important is to have a quick reaction. The new Congress members should receive this reaction at the beginning of their tenure, and thus be forced to review this offensive law against the Arabs and put an end to it. Congress members should know that they have to correct this error once and for all.

In this context, an emergency meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Arab League should be held to discuss the possibility of modifying existing laws in these countries, so as to allow the filing of lawsuits against governments with foreign and military policies leading to implicit support to terrorism.

While waiting for this meeting to be held, and taking into consideration there is a possibility for it not to be held, Arab organizations and figures can immediately file lawsuits against US officials in the countries where laws permit, including the United States itself under the JASTA law, and accuse them of making and implementing policies that have led or can lead to add oil to the fire of terrorism in the Middle East, and threatening the security of citizens from outside the region by the retaliatory terrorist acts.

Americans of Palestinian origin can also file lawsuits under JASTA, against current and previous administration officials in Washington, on charges of aiding Israel at the militarily level to commit crimes in the occupied territories.

This move does not prevent other legal actions, such as lawyers seeking to constitutionally challenge the lawsuits filed by the relatives of the victims of the 2001 attacks, under the JASTA law.

Such legal proceedings will spare any political escalation by those who are angry and are underestimating the Arabs, because the goal is to launch messages against JASTA.

The best response in such situation is to counter-react to this law.

This article was first published in Al Ittihad on Oct. 19, 2016.

Dr. Waheed Abdul Majid is an Egyptian academic and scholar who edits the Siyassa magazine. He formally headed the Al-Ahram Center for Translation and publishing.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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