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US High Court Awards $2B in Damages for Iran-Sponsored Terrorism

  • Ken Bredemeier

FILE - The scene at the U.S. Marine base near Beirut airport, Lebanon, following a suicide truck blast that destroyed the base and caused a huge death toll, Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983.

FILE - The scene at the U.S. Marine base near Beirut airport, Lebanon, following a suicide truck blast that destroyed the base and caused a huge death toll, Sunday, Oct. 23, 1983.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Iran must pay nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to American families of people killed by Tehran-sponsored terrorism.

In a 6-2 ruling Wednesday, the court upheld a 2012 law concerning the distribution of the funds. It awarded damages to the relatives of 241 Marines killed in a 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, 19 U.S. military troops killed in the 1996 Khobar Towers truck bombing in Saudi Arabia, and other attacks.

FILE - A June 30, 1996, photo shows a general view of the destroyed Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

FILE - A June 30, 1996, photo shows a general view of the destroyed Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Iran's Bank Markazi argued that congressional passage of the law specifically directing the damages be awarded to victims' families intruded on U.S. courts that were already considering the damage claims.

U.S. courts have ruled in favor of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, but Iran has refused to comply with the judgments, leading lawyers for the victims to search for Iranian assets in the United States.

The State Department said Wednesday that the high court's ruling was not unexpected and that the administration had long supported compensation for the families in the case.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court majority, said the law "does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution."

More than 1,300 people were awarded damages in the case.

The victims accused Iran of providing support to Hezbollah, the Tehran-backed Shi'ite Islamist political and military group that carried out the truck bomb attack at the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut.

VOA's Nike Ching contributed to this report.

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