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Obama ‘taking Iran’s side’ on damages from ’83 bombing that killed 241 Marines

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, in a bid to reconcile with the
Teheran regime, has blocked legislation that would hold Iran accountable for
the Hizbullah bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983.

A survivors group has asserted that the administration is pressuring
Democrats in Congress not to support a bill that would enforce massive
judgements against Iran by the families of the Marines. In 2007, a U.S.
federal district court judge found Iran liable for the Beirut bombing and
ordered Teheran to pay $2.65 billion in damages.

A U.S. Marine searches the rubble on Oct. 31, 1983, after an Oct. 23 attack on the headquarters of the U.S. troops of the multinational force in Beirut, Lebanon. In twin attacks on U.S. and French military installations, suicide bombers driving trucks killed 299 French and Americans, including 241 U.S. service members.

“This administration talks a lot about sanctions, but we know Iran is watching this case closely and, astonishingly, Obama’s people are taking Iran’s side,” Lynn Smith Derbyshire, a lobbyist for the legislation, said.

Ms. Derbyshire, whose brother Marine Capt. Vincent Smith was killed in the 1983 bombing, said survivors and their families were urging Congress to support amendments to the Iran Sanctions Bill, scheduled for mark-up in the Senate Banking Committee on Feb. 2.

But they said committee members were being pressed by the White House not to vote for amendments that would hold Teheran responsible for the 1983 attack and transfer the $2.65 billion awarded in 2007. The Iran Sanctions Bill would enable U.S. sanctions on foreign companies that purchase or ship oil through the Iranian government or sell telecommunications equipment to Teheran.

“We have petitioned Congress to prevent the government of the Islamic republic of Iran from avoiding its obligations to pay judgments awarded to past and future victims and survivors of Iranian terrorism,” Ms. Derbyshire said on Jan. 30. “We’ve spoken with many sympathetic members of Congress but
they won’t act while this administration is blocking what we and the
American people know is right.”

Over the last decade, the families of Iranian-sponsored attacks have won
billions of dollars in suits against the Teheran regime. But the federal
government, particularly the State Department, has blocked access to Iranian
assets or funds in the United States.

Ms. Derbyshire said she represents more than 1,000 families across the
United States in the campaign to target Teheran and its finances. The group
has also lobbied Congress to strengthen the U.S. law that bans Iran from
laundering money in the United States to finance Hizbullah and other
insurgency proxies.

“We can show that international banks have moved billions of dollars of
funds from Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank, through banks in the U.S.,”
Ms. Derbyshire said. “So far that money has been untouchable. We believe
that is wrong. We are confident that most Americans would agree. Yet, the
Obama administration is thwarting our efforts.”

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