Surviving family members of the U.S. Marines and soldiers killed in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983 had reason to celebrate good news on Friday in New York City, in spite of President Barack Obama's opposition to their court case, according to a spokesperson for the victim's families.
The U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York's Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled that the victims of the 1983 Beirut bombing were entitled to collect $1.8 billion of their $2.65 billion judgment against Iran for its role in the terrorist bombing in Beirut.
Iran's culpability stems from the fact that the terrorist group responsible of the deaths of U.S. servicemen was the Lebanese-based Hezbollah, an organization funded and armed by the Iranian government. Hezbollah is a known "proxy" for Iran's war on the West.
While the families received bi-partisan support from U.S. Senators and House members, President Barack Obama, in a bid to reconcile with the Teheran regime, has blocked legislation that would hold Iran accountable for the Hezbollah bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983, according to journalist and anti-terrorism activist Pamela Geller.
As a result of the Judge Forrest's ruling, the 1,300 immediate families and survivors of the 241 members of the American military who were killed in the Iran-sponsored bombing are significantly closer to receiving approximately $1.8 billion in Iranian funds held in an account in Citibank in Manhattan.
Judge Forrest's court decision on Friday came as a component judgment in a lawsuit filed against Clearstream Banking SA. The families claimed in that suit that Clearstream illegally diverted $250 million from frozen Iranian funds from the Citibank account, a suit originating in 2008.
Lynn Smith Derbyshire, the national spokesperson for the Beirut bombing victims, said, "This is a wonderful day. After 30 years of seeking justice against the murderers in Iran, who killed the brave U.S. Marines and other servicemen in 1983 in Beirut, we are almost there. That bombing was vile. It was evil. Iran should by every measurement be made to pay for its crimes, and Judge Forrest has shown wisdom in her ruling."
Ms. Derbyshire's brother, Marine Captain Vincent Smith, was killed in the bombing.
Forrest's ruling was made easier by a bi-partisan provision inserted into the Iran Sanctions Bill of 2012, which clarified the enforcement of existing laws governing how Iranian funds located in the United States can be attached in cases involving American victims of terrorism.