A lawsuit filed in the United States that claims that telecom giant MTN paid protection money to terrorist groups al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been expanded to include new claims.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the newly expanded lawsuit now also claims that two US contractors – which ran aid projects in Afghanistan – paid protection money to the Taliban.
The suit in question was filed by certain families of US soldiers who were killed or wounded in Iran and Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017. Initially launched last year, the case is now hearing new allegations at the United States District Court.
The suit, which also includes claims against seven other international companies including the security company G4S, alleges that MTN violated the US Anti-Terrorism Act by paying protection money to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. MTN operates in both Afghanistan and Iran.
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Included are allegations that MTN paid more than $100 million to al-Qaeda and the Taliban to prevent its cellular towers from being targeted. Reuters reports that the suit claims that MTN deactivated those towers at night, which hindered US intelligence operations.
“(The) plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendants in the wrong court based on insufficient allegations,” says MTN in a statement. The company will continue to demand that the case be dismissed.
MTN asked the US court to dismiss the case in April 2020, as it lacks jurisdiction over the telecom, which does not operate in the US, and because the complaint does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the US Anti-Terrorism Act, writes Business Insider.
Now that the suit has been amended to include new claims, MTN is surely anticipating filing another motion to dismiss.
“We are reviewing the new material in consultation with our legal advisers but remain of the view that we conduct our business in a responsible and compliant manner in all our territories,” says MTN Group president and CEO Rob Shuter.
MTN states that while they feel “deep sympathy” for those who have been injured or killed in the Afghanistan conflict, the company is not “the extremists that caused Plaintiffs’ tragic losses and injuries.”