The families of some U.S. service members who were killed in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria are suing French cement giant Lafarge after the company pleaded guilty to making payments to the terrorist group.
“Defendants’ payments to and business partnership with ISIS provided ISIS the seed capital it needed to transform from a fledgling militia in the early 2010s into a brutal terroristic behemoth with the capability and intent to kill Americans,” states a lawsuit that was brought by the families of three U.S. military members who were killed in attacks blamed on ISIS, according to a report from ABC Sunday.
Lafarge, a French company which at the time was among the largest in the world, pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay a nearly $800-million fine in October after the company was subject to the U.S. government’s first-ever prosecution of a company for supporting terrorism.
Lafarge built a $680 million plant in northern Syria in 2011 but soon began facing competition from companies importing cheaper cement, according to the Justice Department. Prosecutors accused the company of turning a blind eye to the actions of the ISIS militant groups it was working with, saying the financial deals made were not out of ideological alignment with the terrorist groups but an attempt to secure an economic advantage.
The Justice Department said the company paid close to $6 million to militant groups in a bid to keep the plant running, depending on the militants to protect its employees and ensure the safety of shipments of materials from the plant. Lafarge later pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in hundreds of millions of fines.
Prosecutors said the company also used fake contracts and other falsified documents in an attempt to hide its business relationship with the militant groups.
“There is no justification — none — for a multi-national corporation authorizing payments to a designated terrorist group. Such payments are egregious violations of our laws, justify maximum scrutiny by U.S. authorities, and warrant severe punishment,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in an October Justice Department press release.
The lawsuit claims that the company placed its “economic self-interest” first, helping provide critical funding to a group that was killing innocent civilians and Americans.
“Defendants aided and abetted ISIS’s and ANF’s (Al Nusra Front) acts of international terrorism by knowingly providing substantial assistance, including by making cash and covert payments through foreign shell companies and intermediaries to, purchasing raw material from, and making anti-competitive agreements with, the foreign terrorist organizations, and by failing to safely shut down and evacuate the Cement Plant, thereby placing tons of valuable cement and raw materials in the hands of ISIS and ANF,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants knew that this material support was paid to foreign terrorist organizations and would be used to commit acts of international terrorism.”
The families of Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, Navy Senior Petty Officer Scott Cooper, and former Marine David Berry, who were killed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria between 2015 and 2017, described the “severe mental anguish, extreme emotional pain and suffering” they had suffered since the deaths in the lawsuit.
“Lafarge has already pled guilty to federal crimes and admitted to paying millions of dollars to ISIS,” an attorney representing the families told ABC. “This lawsuit is intended to hold it accountable to the military families devastated by its heinous and unlawful conduct. We expect more families to join the lawsuit and we look forward to bringing the case to trial before a jury of New Yorkers.”
Lafarge did not immediately reply for a Fox News request for comment.