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US Judge Awards $100 Million to Families of Two Sept. 11 Victims

In a decision finding a thin link between Saddam Hussein's government and al-Qaida, a Federal Court judge in New York has awarded more than $100 million to the families of two World Trade Center victims.

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer said the opinions of expert witnesses showed a tenuous link between Iraq and al-Qaida terror group in committing the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In his written decision, Judge Baer noted that the experts' testimony was largely hearsay, and presented few actual facts connecting al-Qaida and Iraq. But he said the experts "provide a sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to draw inferences which could lead to the conclusion that Iraq provided material support to al-Qaida and that it did so with knowledge and intent to further al-Qaida's criminal acts."

One of the experts, former CIA Director James Woolsey, testified that non-Iraqi fundamentalists trained in airplane hijacking and other forms of terrorism in Iraq prior to the attacks.

The lawsuits were brought by the families of George Eric Smith and Timothy Soulas. Mr. Soulas was married with five children and his wife was three-months pregnant when he was killed. Judge Baer awarded the families $104 million, and assigned damages to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, the Taleban, Saddam Hussein, Iraq and Afghanistan. The case is the first lawsuit stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks to reach the damages phase.