Sunday, February 5, 2023

US military families sue French firm over Daesh payments: Report

Families of the US soldiers who were killed by the Daesh terror group in the Middle East, have sued French cement giant Lafarge, which had earlier pleaded guilty for supporting terrorists in Syria, reported local media, citing lawsuit documents.

Islamic State (IS, ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) terrorists once claimed large portions of Syria and Iraq, including the northern Syria town of Jalabiya where Lafarge had built a massive cement plant. Before ISIS and other militant groups operating in the area forced the plant to close, the French company paid them over $6 million in bribes – for which a US federal court fined it $777.8 million in October.

The first prosecution of a company for supporting terrorism has created a precedent that relatives of three Americans killed by terrorists say entitles them to compensation too.

“Defendants’ payments to and business partnership with ISIS provided ISIS the seed capital it needed to transform from a fledgling militia in the early 2010s into a brutal terroristic behemoth with the capability and intent to kill Americans,” the lawsuit alleges, according to ABC.

Since Lafarge has already “admitted to paying millions of dollars to ISIS,” the lawsuit “is intended to hold it accountable to the military families devastated by its heinous and unlawful conduct,” an attorney with the law firm Jenner & Block told ABC.

Relatives of David Berry, Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, and Senior Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton described the “severe mental anguish, extreme emotional pain and suffering” they have suffered as a result of their deaths. Berry was killed in January 2015 in the ISIS attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya. He was a retired Marine working for a private contractor at the time. Finan and Dayton were killed by improvised explosive devices (IED) blamed on IS, one in Iraq in October 2016 and the other in Syria a month later.

The lawsuit accuses Lafarge of giving money and cement to both IS and Al-Nusra Front terrorists.

Various militant groups had rebelled against the Syrian government in 2011, with outside backing, and ended up controlling the area around the cement plant in Jalabiya. The French company paid bribes in order to continue operating the plant, until the IS takeover in 2014 forced them to evacuate all foreign staff.

Al-Nusra was allied with Al-Qaeda but in January 2017 renamed itself as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Many of its militants posed as “moderate rebels” to obtain training and weapons from the US, which sought to overthrow the government in Damascus.

Documents published in September 2021 by the Turkish Anadolu Agency showed that Lafarge had been working with French intelligence, feeding them information about IS and other terrorist groups.

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