The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that it has paid out more than $800 million from a Congressionally-created fund to compensate thousands of American victims of international terrorist acts dating back decades.
Among the 2,332 claimants were Americans held hostage by Iran from 1979 to 1981, as well as victims of the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund was set up by Congress in 2015 and is administered by the Justice Department's Criminal Division. Congress authorized the department to deposit into the fund certain forfeiture proceeds, penalties and fines that come from civil and criminal matters involving prohibited transactions with state sponsors of terrorism.
Congress originally appropriated $1.025 billion for payments to victims, and recent Justice Department prosecutions and U.S. government enforcement actions have increased the total available for initial payments to more than $1.1 billion, the statement said.
"Through this program, we will continue to be resolute in our commitment to victims of state-sponsored terrorism and aggressively search for illicit funds and assets to compensate them for their losses," Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.