US families sue Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, accuse them of aiding terrorism in Afghanistan
Families of US soldiers and civilians, who were killed or severely wounded in Afghanistan, have sued some of the world’s largest banks, including the Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Danske Bank, for helping terrorists carry out their attacks. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York by 115 Gold Star families or relatives of American military service members killed in the war and relatives of noncombatants, claiming they “knowingly facilitated transfers of millions” of dollars that provided aid to terrorists in the region, according to reports.
According to the lawsuit, transactions involving syndicate agents, operatives and fronts in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) raised red flags that they were dealing with terrorist money.
“The terrorists used defendants’ laundromats to change dirty money into clean money and convert dirty foreign currency into clean US dollars. Defendants knew they were aiding terrorism and yet did so anyway,” they said in the complaint.
The complainants include civilians, members of the military and families of people killed or wounded in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2016. They claim Americans were attacked by a terrorist syndicate led by al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, an extreme faction of the Taliban.
They allege the banks aided and abetted acts of terrorist violence against Americans in Afghanistan and that they aided and abetted a racketeering enterprise consisting of al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network’s terrorism campaign. The complaint seeks unspecified money damages which could reach into the billions of dollars.
They sued the banks under the US Anti-Terrorism Act, which was passed in 1990 and allows victims of terrorism to recover damages. In 2016, Congress broadened the law as it passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. This act allows suits against people, organisations and countries that provide direct or indirect support to terrorists that target the United States.
According to The New York Times, the complainants say the banks’ treatment of some of their clients indicated that they understood how their services were connected to illegal activities.
Deutsche Bank, the suit alleges, charged higher-than-normal rates to move money around the world for some of its clients, including a Pakistani man whom the US government had flagged as a money launderer for terrorists. The US government said in 2016 that the man, Altaf Khanani, laundered money for drug traffickers and other criminal organisations.
The New York Times cited a Buzzfeed News report from last year which said that Deutsche Bank used a complex series of stock trades in the US and Russia, called mirror trades, that allowed Khanani to move money across the world on behalf of al Qaeda and the Taliban.