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Unfinished Business

Bill Doyle is on a mission to prove that Saudi Arabia bankrolled the 9/11 attacks

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By the beginning of 2002, Doyle was working full-time again – after returning home from a battery of daily meetings, he was on the phone and the computer constantly. That was just fine with his wife. “It’s completely different between a man and a woman when you lose a child,” Camille Doyle says. “I wanted to be alone.”

The Doyles moved to Florida in the fall of 2005, Camille says, because Joey’s friends were growing up, getting married. Attending those weddings, she said, was too painful. At one reception, the dress code mandated Hawaiian shirts – one of Joey’s favorite clothing items – and another wedding featured a video montage of Joey’s life. “Every time we went to a wedding, the focal point of the wedding was Joey,” she says. “It was a little much.”

By then, Bill Doyle had cemented his role as “the pillar of 9/11 families,” as the National Journal called him – the year prior, he had convinced New York health insurer GHI to create a reduced-rate coverage plan specifically for those who lost their benefits as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. The pace of Doyle’s work let up only slightly after the move, and the weeks leading up to the 9/11 anniversary are when he’s busiest, inundated with requests from reporters (he’s been in the New York Post nearly 50 times) and various pieces of news and information he channels to the families. Today, Doyle is a gatekeeper for 7,113 people who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.

In 2004, Doyle’s email blasts to hundreds of 9/11 victim families placed him on AOL’s spam list, but his account was promptly restored after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer intervened. By then, however, what may prove to be Doyle’s most consequential email – the one containing the phrase “9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism” – had long since been sent.

To call South Carolina trialattorney Ron Motley “a big deal” would be a vast understatement. In 1993, Motley extracted $215 million from companies that had potentially exposed more than 14,000 workers to asbestos; it was estimated that his firm and another firm co-litigating the case split more than $70 million in legal fees from the settlement. In 1998, Motley was a key player in wresting $246 billion from tobacco companies on behalf of 26 different government agencies. From that historic settlement, Motley’s firm reportedly took home a staggering $2 billion in fees.

But Motley’s most ambitious, challenging and politically charged endeavor is still yet to be decided – a $1 trillion lawsuit against the alleged financiers of the 9/11 attacks.

First proposed by Tom Burnett Sr., a man whose son was among the passengers who resisted the hijackers of Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., the potential litigation seemed well-tailored to Motley’s expertise – emotionally wrenching, infinitely complex and with thousands of potential plaintiffs. After meeting with the Burnett family in February 2002, Motley assembled a team of a dozen investigators to scour the globe for financial records connected to 9/11, an effort coordinated by French counterterrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard. Brisard is the author of “The Economic Environment of Osama Bin Laden,” an exhaustive study published in October 2001 that received critical acclaim from the CIA. When asked what proportion of bin Laden’s funding came from Saudi Arabia, Brisard’s answer is direct: “It would be more than 90 percent. No question about that.”

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