U.S. to Block Iran Receiving $1.6 Billion From 'Victory' Over 9/11 Victims

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images
April 14, 2020

The Trump administration has received guarantees Iran will not repatriate some $1.6 billion related to Tehran's recent "legal victory" against American terror victims.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani claimed during the weekend that a Luxembourg court had freed $1.6 billion in frozen assets to be sent back to Iran. The money has long been sought as compensation by American victims of Iran-backed terror attacks. Victims of the 9/11 attacks and the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon, among others, have argued that the regime owes compensation for sponsoring the attacks.

Senior Trump administration officials told the Washington Free Beacon the United States has "received assurances that the funds continue to be frozen and will not be transferred to Iran at this time."

The money is being closely watched in light of the Trump administration's decision in February to waive sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) so it could access cash for "humanitarian purposes" amid the coronavirus pandemic. Potentially billions in hard currency are now available to the regime, which continues to spend its cash reserves on regional terror operations instead of its citizens' medical needs.

Senior State Department officials said they are working to block any transfer of this money, which has been frozen in Luxembourg bank accounts pending an outcome by the European nation's courts.

"The Luxembourg district court states the decision is not final and is subject to appeal," the senior State Department official told the Free Beacon. "Contrary to regime propaganda, these funds have not been sent to Iran. On April 3, the vice president to the Luxembourg district court issued a prohibition on the asset transfer. The United States will continue to use all possible means to ensure that these funds in Luxembourg are not released."

The Luxembourg Court of Cassation, which adjudicated the case and ruled in Iran's favor, confirmed its decision on Tuesday and indicated the money has not yet made its way back to Iran. The court ruled the United States has no authority to seize the funds on behalf of American terror victims.

That decision can now be appealed to a higher court. Luxembourg made clear that if any financial institution attempts to move the money before a final decision is made it would be subject to million-dollar fines.

Iran had in mid-2019 appealed court rulings holding it accountable for the attacks. The Luxembourg court's decision, while not final, could pave the way for the Islamic Republic to take back the $1.6 billion that had been frozen.

Rouhani, in addressing the decision, called it a "very good victory" against America and falsely claimed Iran had already repatriated the money.

Rouhani claimed victory over victims of the 9/11 attacks, to which American courts have long linked Iran. The money has also been sought by the families of American service members killed in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon, another attack sponsored by Tehran.

"$1.6 billion of our money was in Luxembourg and the Americans had put their hands on it," Rouhani said. He added that Iran "freed this money from the Americans' grasp."

The governor of Iran's Central Bank also claimed that the cash had been released.

"Thanks to judiciary actions in Luxembourg, the Islamic Republic could gain two major achievements and neutralize U.S. efforts to seize and transfer Iran's assets," Abdolnaser Hemmati said in reports carried by Iran's state-controlled media.

"Initially, $1.6 billion of CBI assets, blocked in Clearstream Banking SA back on January 15, 2016, was released," he said. "Under a transient order issued by a court in Luxembourg, the transfer of the CBI asset was diverted to the U.S."