The government of Iran owes upwards of $2 billion to 1,300 individuals who sued Iran for its sponsorship of the 1983 Beirut bombing of the Marine barracks that killed 241 Marines and wounded an additional 115 Americans.
The order has been upheld by the Federal Courts and just a few weeks ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even so, a New York-based American law firm is slow-walking the recent order of the Supreme Court that Iran must pay up and likely could delay payment for years to come.
In a letter dated May 4 and directed to Judge Katherine Forrest, Iran’s American lawyer Andreas A. Frischknecht of the New York firm of Chaffetz Lindsey LLP says, “Bank Markazi [central bank of Iran] respectfully requests that the Court defer any consideration of the Proposed Order [for dispursal of funds] until after the United States Supreme Court has issued its judgment in this case and Plaintiffs have properly and timely applied for such relief, and that the Court affo4d Bank Markazi an appropriate opportunity to respond to Plaintiff’s application at that time.”
The plaintiffs include the survivors of not just the Beirut Marine barracks bombing but also the survivors of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and other acts of terror carried out by Hezbollah and sponsored by the Iranian government.
The long process began with a 2001 court case at which evidence was presented from the National Security Agency showing that Iran gave the order for the bombing. A federal judge awarded judgment for the plaintiffs. How to collect became the issue until 2008 when a frozen bank account belonging to the Iranians was discovered at Citibank totaling $1.7 billion.
The effort to collect has involved the U.S. Congress, the President of the United States, the Federal and Supreme Courts. Even so, an American firm is still working to block payment.
Chaffetz Lindsey had no comment.