Terror Victims Sue U.S. Oil Companies for Funding Terror

Suit claims firms traded with Saddam Hussein during the time he supported terrorist organizations.

American and Israeli victims of terrorism have filed a precedent-setting suit against three U.S. oil companies and their directors, charging them that they indirectly assisted the funding of terrorist organizations. This is the first time that Israeli victims of terrorism have filed a suit of this kind against American firms.

The suit was filed in January at the U.S. District Court in the capital, Washington D.C., by attorneys Michael Miller and Gavriel Mairone against NuCoastal Corporation, El Paso Energy Corporation, Bayoil (USA) Inc., and directors Oscar Wyatt Jr. and David B. Chalmers Jr.

To date, most suits by terror victims were filed against Arab or Iranian individuals, terrorist groups, Iran and various Arab states.

The suit argues that the companies and their directors traded with Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the period 2000-2003 under the framework of the United Nations' Oil for Food program. Investigative reporting and a UN probe revealed that bribes were paid and other violations were carried out in order to bypass the limitations set by the program, which was meant to allow Iraq to sell some of its oil in order to purchase food and medical equipment for the civilian population of Iraq.

The UN probe concluded that Saddam Hussein and senior officials of his regime also transferred funds to terrorist organizations and the families of suicide bombers, in order to encourage terrorism during the intifada.

Saddam Hussein announced at the time that he would make a $25,000 contribution to the family of each terrorist. Among those benefiting from the money were Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades of Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the Arab Liberation Front, a group set up during the 1960s by Iraqi intelligence.

The suit emphasizes that the aim of these groups was to engage in systematic and widespread acts of terror, crimes against humanity and genocide with the publicly stated goal of destroying and eliminating the state of Israel and ethnically cleansing its Jewish population. The suit also mentions dozens of attacks that claimed the lives of more than 100 Israelis.

After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. intelligence found documents that allegedly proved that the oil companies named in the suit and their directors bribed Saddam and senior officials in his regime in order to win tenders. The bribes were allegedly placed in secret bank accounts which were not reported to the UN.

In 2007 the companies and the directors were tried, admitted part of the charges against them and reached plea bargains which included jail time and millions in fines.