There is ONE bill in the U.S. Senate that takes $1.8 billion of Iran’s funds stored in a U.S. account and reserves them to compensate Iran’s American terrorism victims. The Iran sanctions bill now under consideration by the Senate has one special section, co-sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez and supported by Senators of both parties. Section 503 would compensate the American victims of Iranian terrorism and keep Iran from using the funds to build nuclear weapons and fund terrorism. But a big Wall Street firm is working behind the scenes to stop the Senate from helping the victims. The families of our servicemen killed or wounded by Iranian terrorism need your help!
Some history: Iranian terrorists killed 241 of our servicemen, and injured many more, in the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. For years, the 1300 survivors and families of those killed have sought justice in American courts for that attack, and were ultimately awarded a judgment in federal court of over $2.6 billion against Iran. Their attorneys then identified and attached an account of $1.8 billion in Iranian central bank funds in a bank in NYC to satisfy that judgment. Then the families of the servicemen killed in the 1996 Iranian bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia won a judgment and now stand to share in that account.
But without special legislation, the order freezing the funds could be lifted, possibly enabling Iran to recover the money. Lynn Smith Derbyshire, whose brother was killed in the barracks bombing and is now national spokesperson for the Beirut Marine families, says, “The Government of Iran will continue to do everything it can to hurt Americans. We see no reason to enable Tehran’s campaign of terror. Allowing the Iranian Government to get this frozen money back would do just that.” Section 503 of the Iran sanctions bill, which is numbered S. 2101, was approved by the Senate Banking Committee on February 2 and awaits Senate floor action.
But a Wall Street powerhouse, the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (“DTCC”), opposes Section 503 and is trying to kill it behind closed doors. DTCC works with financial institutions from around the world to ensure that financial transactions clear smoothly and quickly. But one of DTCC’s business partners is Clearstream, a European financial institution at the heart of the transfer of Iran’s funds into New York City. Intentionally or not, DTCC is, in effect, trying to help Clearstream recover the $1.8 billion in Iran’s funds, by sending high-priced Washington lobbyists into Congressional offices to “amend” the bill. Their “amendments” could actually kill the families’ pursuit of justice and enable Iran to recover the $1.8 billion.
It’s time for the Senate to shut the door on DTCC and support the families of our terrorism victims. No other bill before the Senate actually takes Iran’s money and reserves it for Iran’s American victims. The Beirut Marine families are urging Americans to contact Senators to support Section 503 of S. 2101 without DTCC’s “poison pills” and approve it in the Senate quickly.