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Judge sides with government on funds linked to al-Qaida

By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a move by survivors and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to claim $6.6 million of alleged al-Qaida money that was discovered sitting in a Chicago futures account in 2007.

The account was frozen by U.S. Treasury Department when it was discovered. By then, poor trades had cost the account about three-fourths of its value in less than a year.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, an arm of the Justice Department, moved to take control of the money last summer under federal laws that allow seizure of assets connected to terrorism.

After learning of the government’s actions in a Chicago Tribune story, victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks also sought the money, saying they wanted it as part of their decade-old civil lawsuit against al-Qaida’s network and its supporters. The suit seeks billions in damages for the massive losses suffered by victims as well as insurers in the attacks.

Prosecutors argued that the victims do not have legal standing to the money. The government has contended it has “significant law enforcement interest” in the money as a way to disrupt future terrorist acts.

In his ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly granted a government motion to reject the victims’ claims to the money.

But lawyers for the Sept. 11 victims said Tuesday that their fight is not over. Attorney Sean Carter said they might amend their legal argument.

“There are a number of possible ways to get this money,” he said.

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