Politics

US contractors sued for allegedly paying 'protection money' to the Taliban in Afghanistan

Key Points
  • U.S. and international companies helped finance a "Taliban-led terrorist insurgency" in Afghanistan that killed or hurt American service members and civilians, according to a new lawsuit filed Friday.
  • The suit alleges that the contractors made protection payments to the Taliban because they had "lucrative businesses in post-9/11 Afghanistan, and they all paid the Taliban to refrain from attacking their business interests."
  • The plaintiffs are the families of more than 100 people who were killed and wounded in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2017.
A US Marine of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade runs to safety moments after an IED blast in Garmsir district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 13, 2009.
Manpreet Romana | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. and international companies helped finance a "Taliban-led terrorist insurgency" in Afghanistan that killed or hurt American service members and civilians, according to a new lawsuit filed Friday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the lawsuit.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleges that the "large Western companies" made protection payments to the Taliban because they had "lucrative businesses in post-9/11 Afghanistan, and they all paid the Taliban to refrain from attacking their business interests."

"Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans," the lawsuit alleges.

The plaintiffs are the families of more than 100 people who were killed and wounded in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2017.

The suit alleges that the companies often opted to pay the Taliban rather than seek assistance from the U.S. military in order to maximize profits.

They "rationalized their payments to the Taliban by framing them as a necessary cost of business," according to the suit.

Centerra Group, DAI Global, Louis Berger Group and Janus Global Operations, which are among the companies named in the suit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"The Anti-Terrorism Act complaint alleges that eight large multinational corporations, most of which are American, regularly paid 'protection payments' to the Taliban (including the Haqqani Network), which were designed to boost the companies' profits by redirecting violence away from their own business interests," said Ryan Sparacino, managing partner of one of the firms that filed the suit, in a statement to CNBC.

"We believe plaintiffs bore the consequences," Sparacino said.

Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick, another firm representing the plaintiffs in the suit, provided a copy of the legal complaint to CNBC did not immediately give a comment.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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