WorldTribune.com is reporting that Barack Obama, in a bid to reconcile with the Teheran regime, has blocked legislation that would hold Iran accountable for the Hizbullah bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983.
A survivors group has asserted that the administration is pressuring Democrats in Congress not to support a bill that would enforce massive judgements against Iran by the families of the Marines. In 2007, a U.S. federal district court judge found Iran liable for the Beirut bombing and ordered Teheran to pay $2.65 billion in damages.
"This administration talks a lot about sanctions, but we know Iran is watching this case closely and, astonishingly, Obama’s people are taking Iran’s side," Lynn Smith Derbyshire, a lobbyist for the legislation, said.
Ms. Derbyshire, whose brother Marine Capt. Vincent Smith was killed in the 1983 bombing, said survivors and their families were urging Congress to support amendments to the Iran Sanctions Bill, scheduled for mark-up in the Senate Banking Committee on Feb. 2.
But they said committee members were being pressed by the White House not to vote for amendments that would hold Teheran responsible for the 1983 attack and transfer the $2.65 billion awarded in 2007. The Iran Sanctions Bill would enable U.S. sanctions on foreign companies that purchase or ship oil through the Iranian government or sell telecommunications equipment to Teheran.
"We have petitioned Congress to prevent the government of the Islamic republic of Iran from avoiding its obligations to pay judgments awarded to past and future victims and survivors of Iranian terrorism," Ms. Derbyshire said on Jan. 30. "We’ve spoken with many sympathetic members of Congress but they won’t act while this administration is blocking what we and the American people know is right."
Over the last decade, the families of Iranian-sponsored attacks have won billions of dollars in suits against the Teheran regime. But the federal government, particularly the State Department, has blocked access to Iranian assets or funds in the United States.
Ms. Derbyshire said she represents more than 1,000 families across the United States in the campaign to target Teheran and its finances. The group has also lobbied Congress to strengthen the U.S. law that bans Iran from laundering money in the United States to finance Hizbullah and other insurgency proxies.
"We can show that international banks have moved billions of dollars of funds from Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank, through banks in the U.S.," Ms. Derbyshire said. "So far that money has been untouchable. We believe that is wrong. We are confident that most Americans would agree. Yet, the Obama administration is thwarting our efforts."