Why going after Iran to compensate 9/11 victims’ families means we have entered the Twilight Zone

There are times I read something and stop suddenly, asking myself “did I read that right?”, or “did I somehow get the message wrong?” Perhaps I skipped over the text and missed some detail (like yesterday when I thought I had a conference call that day which is actually taking place May 1). Maybe I read too fast. In either event, it is usually a good idea to pause, re-read, and re-assess before jumping to conclusions.

Alas, even re-looking at a headline today in the online version of the Edmonton Journal has me no further ahead. Here’s what I read: “Court decision allows 9/11 families to go after Iran’s Alberta assets” and here is the relevant text:

  • Families of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be able to go after Iranian government assets in Alberta after a multibillion-dollar judgment was registered in this province. According to court records, an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench master registered a US$7.01 billion judgment against Iran and a dozen of its agencies and state-owned companies on March 13 in Edmonton. With the decision, Alberta became the latest Canadian jurisdiction to recognize the massive judgment, originally handed down in a New York court in 2012. “Registering a judgment in Alberta means if there are Iranian assets in Alberta and you’re able to find them, that you can seize those assets and use those to compensate victims of terrorism,” said Doug Lennox, the Canadian lawyer for the U.S. plaintiffs.

There is so much that is in error, ridiculous, unsustainable and just plain dumb about this that I scarcely know where to begin. Oh, how about with this: ” The 9/11 Commission report found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.”

How a judge can allow this to happen defies all sense, common or otherwise. If anyone is to be sued for damages over 9/11 why in God’s name (sorry, that was a questionable phrase in light of the fact that the hijackers were convinced they were indeed acting in God’s name) is it not Saudi Arabia?? After all, the aberration of Islam that led the terrorists to fly planes into buildings is a version of Saudi Wahhabist Islam and 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi. So, is Saudi not ‘responsible’ for 9/11? No, because no one can prove that the Saudi regime supported, winked at or planned it? Then how the hell does anyone tie Iran to this horrific event? Can someone please explain this to me?? Are there any “Iranian assets” in Alberta to go after?

This decision is an abomination of justice. I have criticised judgments on terrorism-related issues in Canada before but this one takes the cake. I figure that this whole thing is tied to the growing movement that ‘Iran is Satan’s spawn’ that seems to be taking over. Why else would the Trump administration decide now to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation almost three decades after it was created? Because the Trump administration has decided to go after Iran based on its conviction that it is the world’s leading supporter of terrorism. Which is untrue.

That a ruling along these lines is coming down 18 years after 9/11 demonstrates that we are still getting a lot wrong in the ‘war on terror’. It is not a good omen my friends and depresses the hell out of me. News of this ilk is almost enough to make a terrorism commentator want to pack it in and spend more time at the cottage lying it the hammock with a good book.

Now there’s an idea!……

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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