U.S. Veterans Sue Big Banks for Facilitating Iranian Terrorism

More than 80 vets, families sue for deaths of U.S. troops

An infantryman of the 3rd US Stryker Brigade Combat Team aims with this M4A1 carbine during a search operation in Bagdad, Iraq, March 2007
An infantryman of the 3rd US Stryker Brigade Combat Team aims with this M4A1 carbine during a search operation in Bagdad, Iraq, March 2007 / AP
November 10, 2014

More than 80 wounded U.S. combat veterans and their families have filed suit against several of the world’s largest banks, which they accuse of facilitating financial transfers on behalf of Iran that directly led to the killing and wounding of U.S. troops in Iraq, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The suit filed early Monday accuses multiple banks of "committing acts of international terrorism" by helping Iran fund and arm Iraqi terrorists who have killed scores of U.S. troops, according to the complaint.

More than 200 plaintiffs have signed onto the suit, which targets some of the largest international banks, including: HSBC Bank USA, Barclays, London’s Standard Chartered Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, and London-based Bank Saderat.

The veterans argue that the banks helped Iran illegally move "billions of dollars" to terrorist entities that later targeted U.S. troops in attacks.

The suit alleges these banks are knowingly acting as key cogs in Iran’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions and provide "material support" to Hezbollah and other terror groups, which, at Tehran’s behest, have carried out attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq.

"Defendants’ unlawful conduct was purposefully directed at the United States, and the conspiracy was specifically designed to effectuate the flow of billions of U.S. dollars through the United States in violation of U.S. laws, and in fact resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars illegally passing through the United States," plaintiffs argue in the complaint filed by New Jersey-based Osen & Associates.

The veterans and their families are seeking an unspecified amount of damages from the banks as a result of their alleged support for Iranian terrorism.

The complaint goes on to detail scores of terror attacks in Iraq backed by Iran committed between 2004 and 2007 that injured or killed those who have signed on to the lawsuit.

Those involved in the suit say that they are driven by a need to expose Iran’s terror activities and the complicity of the banks accused in the suit.

"The world in general needs to know that these banks are doing what they are doing and it needs to be stopped," said Kelli Hake, whose husband Christopher was killed on March 23, 2008, by an "Iranian-manufactured IED provided to Iranian-funded and-trained terror operatives in Iraq," according to the court documents.

"It was definitely something that was new to me and opened my eyes as to what was going on," Hake said.

"Emotionally, I don’t feel like it’s going to give me closure, but maybe it can help for the future," she said. "If this can help to bring awareness of what’s going on with the banks and stop the funding of these things, it could help families down the road to not be victims to this."

The suit alleges that the international banks in question were "knowingly" part of a "conspiracy" by Iran to skirt international sanctions.

The banks "agreed to alter, falsify, or omit information from payment messages that involved Iran or Iranian parties," including Iranian banks, the lawsuit claims. "Each of the defendants knowingly entered into an agreement with Iran and its agents."

The banks engaged in this behavior for "the express purpose of concealing" Iran and its financial institutions from scrutiny by U.S. authorities, according to the suit.

This activity began around 1987 and "continues to the present," despite ongoing sanctions against Iran, the suit alleges.

With the help of the accused banks, Iran has been able to secretly move "billions of dollars in U.S. currency through the United States in a manner designed to purposefully circumvent monitoring regulators," according to the court documents.

This is said to include "hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah," the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), "and other terrorist organizations actively engaged in murdering and maiming U.S. servicemen and civilians in Iraq."

The funds also helped Iran acquire technology needed to assist its weapons of mass destruction program, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit explains in great detail how Iran has funneled money to Hezbollah and other terror entities in Iraq. Iranian money, the suit alleges, was spent to train terrorists and arm them with IEDs and other weapons typically used to kill and wound U.S. soldiers.

Representatives for Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Standard Chartered declined to comment on the case when reached Monday by the Free Beacon. Spokesmen for HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Saderat either could not be reached by press time or did not respond to requests for comment. 

The case is fundamentally about exposing those who have helped Iranian terrorism and finally making "things right," said combat veteran Allen Swinton, whose vehicle was struck by an Iranian-manufactured IED on April 12, 2008.

"The light should be shed on … these banks, what they’re doing to keep terrorist activity alive," said Swinton, whose artery was severed by shrapnel as a result of the 2008 attack.

"I was kind of shocked to see who was funding who, and who was supporting the terrorist activity," Swinton said. "Even when I went through my incident and they were taking the shrapnel out of my body to see where it came from … it’s something that’s hard to swallow."

Published under: Iran , Iraq , Military