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Judge Bills Hezbollah, Iran $6B for 9/11 Attacks

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge in Manhattan ordered Iran, Hezbollah, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khameini, Osama bin Laden and others to pay more than $6 billion to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The defendants lost by default by not appearing in court.

Iran denies any link to the attacks and is unlikely to pay the judgment.

In 2004, The 9/11 Commission Report stated, "We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack."

But the commission found "strong evidence" that the country "facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members."

It recommended that the U.S. government take up "further investigation" on the matter.

Fiona Havlish, whose husband, Donald, died in the attacks, led 47 plaintiffs in a lawsuit determined to prove what the commission had not.

On Dec. 22, 2011, U.S. District Judge George Daniels ruled that Iran and Hezbollah's decision not to appear in court meant the plaintiffs won by default.

"In evaluating the plaintiffs' proof, the court may 'accept as true the plaintiffs' uncontroverted evidence,'" Daniels wrote in his findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Self-described Iranian "insider" Abolghasem Mesbah claimed that he received three messages about a code-named plot, in an affidavit initially placed under seal.

Some former 9/11 Commission staffers, one-time CIA agents and journalists also submitted testimony.

The journalists included Kenneth Timmerman, a conservative Republican activist; Ronen Bergman, an Israeli investigative journalist; and Patrick Clawson, an editor of Middle East Quarterly and research director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

A magistrate judge tabulated the damages at $6,048,513,805 in July.

Judge Daniels confirmed that figure on Wednesday.

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