A federal judge in Manhattan has issued a default judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran, its top officials and various political and military subdivisions in finding that the defendants provided direct and material support to al-Qaida in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. After a lengthy examination of allegations, 276 findings of fact and 35 separate conclusions of law, Southern District Judge George B. Daniels (See Profile) concluded that Iran and its internal and external conspirators are liable under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) for damages to relatives and representatives of the victims. “Iran is liable for damages caused by the acts of all agency and instrumentality Defendants because ‘[i]n any such action, a foreign state shall be vicariously liable for the acts of its officials, employees or agents,’” he wrote, quoting 28 U.S.C. §1605.

Judge Daniels’ 53-page decision in Havlish v. bin Laden, 03-cv-9848, comes in the wake of two recent developments regarding Iran’s alleged role in the attacks. In July, the Obama administration and the U.S. Treasury Department declared that Iran had assisted al-Qaida in funneling money and recruits to the terrorists. Less than a month later, Chief Judge Royce C. Lambreth held in Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 00-cv-2329, that under the FSIA debts owed by a U.S. corporation to an Iranian firm must be paid instead to victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.