A group of two dozen American victims of Iranian terror plots filed a court injunction Wednesday to stop the Obama administration’s release of more than $100 billion to Iran as part of a recently signed nuclear accord, according to a copy of the legal filing.
The injunction, filed in New York’s Southern District Court, targets the State Department, the Treasury Department, and Secretary of State John Kerry in a bid to prevent them from freeing Iranian assets totaling more than $100 billion.
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As part of the accord, the Islamic Republic is guaranteed to receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
The terror victims state in their lawsuit that it is likely the Iranian government will use this money to fund its global terror operation, which includes organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
"The families of the terror victims fear that the released billions will be utilized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and will end up back in the hands of terror groups who took the lives of their loved ones," the Israel Law Center, the group which filed the suit, said in a statement on behalf of the victims.
The families involved in the suit said they are concerned that if the money is released to Iran, they will never collect on more than a billion dollars that is owed to them as a result of previous court judgments against Iran for its sponsorship of terror attacks.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the lawyers handling the case, said the families who lost loved ones as a result of Iranian terrorism should be paid what they are legally owed before Iran ever receives a dime in sanctions relief.
"It would be outrageous to release the $100 billion in frozen Iranian funds when these American families have unpaid court judgments against the terror sponsoring regime in Tehran," Darshan-Leitner said in a statement. "For more than a decade, Iran has refused to pay these court judgments and has thumbed its nose at these terror-victim families and the U.S. court system."
"The $100 billion in frozen funds is the last leverage the families have to compel Iran to satisfy their judgments," she said. "If you release these funds, you erase all hope for the families of ever getting a measure of justice against this outlaw regime."
The lawsuit maintains that the families have undertaken a decade-long search for Iranian entities that could be held culpable for the Islamic Republic’s terror crimes.
The Iranian assets that will be unfrozen under the nuclear deal should only be lifted after the United States certifies to Congress that Iran is no longer funding terrorism, the suit states.
Under the current accord, money will be released to Iran with no strings attached, meaning there is no way to guarantee the funds will not be spent on terror activities.
"The U.S. encouraged these families, grievously harmed by terrorism, to file suit against Iran, and now the government has a moral duty to assist them in collecting on their judgments," Darshan-Leitner said. "To release the funds instead of turning them over to the victims would make a farce out of this hard-fought legal process."
The suit further argues that sanctions against Iran should fully remain in place until the victims receive the compensation they are owed under previous lawsuits.
"To date, only a tiny fraction of Plaintiffs’ judgments has been collected," the lawsuit states. "While Plaintiffs continue to search for blocked Iranian assets against which they may enforce their judgments, … Iran remains a designated state sponsor of terror and continues to spend billions of dollars on terrorism."
Several of the families named in the case lost relatives as a result of terror attacks by entities sponsored by Iran, while others were seriously injured as a result of similar attacks.