Terror Victims Seize Control of Iran’s Internet

Court allow victims to control Iranian Internet

Iranians surf the web in an Internet cafe at a shopping center in central Tehran, Iran

Iranians surf the web in an Internet cafe at a shopping center in central Tehran, Iran / AP


American victims of Iranian terrorism were permitted by a U.S. court to assume control over Iran’s Internet licenses and domains in recompense for crimes perpetrated by the regime in Tehran, according to court documents.

The decision means that Iran could effectively be kicked off the Internet once control of its "top level domains" are transferred to the American terror victims, who have sought more than a billion dollars in damages from Iran.

Court documents detailing the decision and requesting control over Iran’s licenses have been served to the U.S. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees web domains on behalf of the Department of Commerce.

The decision marks an unprecedented victory for American victims of Iranian terror operations, who have long petitioned the courts to grant them financial compensation and damages.

The attorney for the victims, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center, told the Washington Free Beacon that the victims of Iranian terror are now fighting back against Iran’s ongoing support for terror.

"By seizing Teheran's Internet licenses and domain names we are serving notice on the Islamic regime that we will not forgive nor forget the families devastated by Iran-backed terrorism," Darshan-Leitner said. "We will continue to pursue Iran property and assets anywhere we can find them and will try to bring some closure to the victims."

A U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., permitted the terror victims to seize all of Iran’s Internet domains and licenses, a decision that effectively allows these plaintiffs to target these virtual assets.

Iran’s Internet is now under lien to the terror victims, according to court documents.

ICANN has 10 days to respond to the terror victims. It can either hand over the Iranian Internet domains and licenses or challenge the decision in court.

Darshan-Leitner told the Free Beacon she will seek an immediate turnover of "everything that belongs to Iran" and then have the titles and other documents transferred to the families of the terror victims.

The seizure includes all so-called "top-level domain" names that have been provided by the United States to Iran, including its .ir domain, from which most Iranian websites operate.

The terror victims are also seeking control of the Arabic domain names used by Iran and all IP addresses currently possessed by the Iranian government and its various agencies.

If these Internet assets are successfully transferred, the terror victims would effectively control the Iranian Internet and be able to remove it from the web.

Baruch Ben-Haim whose son Shlomo was critically injured during a 1995 bombing on an Israeli bus, said that he and the other victims have long sought damages from Iran to no avail.

"It’s not right that the U.S. government would provide these licenses to Iran while it is refusing to pay off the judgments handed down against it for funding global terrorism," Ben-Haim said in a statement. "The federal court awards given to our families must be satisfied."

Attorney Darshan-Leitner said the families will no longer stand by as a recalcitrant Iran continues its global terror campaign.

"The families of the terror victims are fighting back and seizing Iranian assets worldwide, seeking compensation and a measure of justice," she said. "While the U.S. and Europe are determined to end the sanctions and restore Iran's economic strength, we are passionate that the world remember Iran's sponsorship of these heinous crimes and that those who lost loved ones to Iranian terror have their court judgments paid in full."

The Commerce Department declined to comment on the decision. ICANN did not respond by press time.

Adam Kredo   Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS
Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

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