Families of U.S. servicemen killed by ISIS have sued Lafarge, the French conglomerate that pleaded guilty earlier this year to bribing the Islamic State group and the Al-Nusra Front to keep a cement plant running through the Syrian civil war.
The guilty plea and a nearly $800-million fine were part of the U.S. government's first-ever prosecution of a corporation for providing material support for terrorism.
The "economic self-interest" of Lafarge enabled the Islamic State group's slaughtering of innocent civilians, including Americans, their families said in a new lawsuit.
"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," the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs are the families of three U.S. servicemen killed in attacks blamed on ISIS.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan of California was killed by an ISIS-planted IED in Iraq on Oct. 20, 2016. His widow and his parents said they have "experienced severe mental anguish, extreme emotional pain and suffering" since his death, according to the lawsuit.
Navy Senior Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton of Virginia was killed by an ISIS-planted IED in Ayn Issa, Syria, on Nov. 24, 2016. His widow and children are among the plaintiffs.
Former Marine David Berry was a 12-year combat veteran from Virginia, and was killed by an ISIS attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Libya on Jan. 27, 2015. At the time, Berry was working for a private contractor.
"Defendants aided and abetted ISIS's and ANF's 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 said. "Defendants knew that this material support was paid to foreign terrorist organizations and would be used to commit acts of international terrorism."
The lawsuit sought unspecified economic and compensatory damages.
"Lafarge has already pled guilty to federal crimes and admitted to paying millions of dollars to ISIS. 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," said Lee Wolosky, Partner at Jenner & Block LLP, lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement.
There was no immediate reply from Lafarge.