On 29th August, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP published an article about recent examples of victims (or their dependants) filing actions in the US courts against US companies that they said were guilty of providing support for terrorist organisations. The examples it quotes are where –
- military veterans and the relatives of troops killed in Iraq filed a lawsuit against several large international pharmaceuticals, accusing them of aiding and abetting terrorism by selling products to Iraq’s Ministry of Health which were used to finance operations by the notorious Mahdi Army; and
- a woman injured in the 2015 Paris attacks by ISIL sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google, alleging that the social media platforms assisted terrorists by allowing them to recruit members, distribute propaganda, and co-ordinate activities.
The argument being advanced is that financial services, social media, life sciences, and other companies have become targets of ATA actions on the theory that, by processing financial transactions and engaging in other commercial activities with terrorist groups, they are complicit in terrorist attacks. The article examines the background and the history of the 1987 Act, the standard for liability under the Act and provides advice for US companies which may be at risk. It says that financial institutions and public companies with global operations should be wary of potential exposure under the ATA, and should implement defensive measures to avoid inadvertently doing business with individuals or organisations associated with terrorism. Lawsuits under the ATA are a growing area of liability, the article contends, against which financial institutions and public companies should protect themselves, and recent moves are to make the Act more expansive.