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Kenyan victims of a 1998 terrorist bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi can go forward with their suit against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled earlier this month. Judges Harry Edwards, David Tatel, and Merrick Garland reversed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims against bin Laden and al Qaeda. In its Aug. 5 opinion, Judge Garland wrote that bin Laden and al Qaeda “engaged in unabashedly malignant actions directed at and felt in this country. Bin Laden and al Qaeda should therefore reasonably anticipate being hauled into court here by those injured as a result of those actions, regardless of the plaintiffs’ nationality.” Philip Musolino, a senior partner with Musolino & Dessel who represents the bombing victims, says the ruling shows an “American court’s willingness to open doors to plaintiffs who are not American citizens.” Musolino argued bin Laden and al Qaeda had sufficient contacts with the United States to give the federal courts jurisdiction over the case. The panel, however, affirmed the dismissal of the claims against Afghanistan, which was represented by R. Michael Smith, a partner with Dechert in Washington. The panel ruled that, as a foreign sovereign state that didn’t directly sponsor the terrorists, Afghanistan couldn’t be sued.
Lily Henning can be contacted at [email protected]

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