On Jan. 20, 2007, U.S. military officers and their Iraqi counterparts met at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, to plan security coordination for the upcoming observance of the Shi'a Muslim holiday of Ashura. Just after nightfall a five-car convoy of black GMC Suburban trucks—commonly used by American troops—made its way through three checkpoints, carrying about a dozen men dressed in U.S. military-style fatigues.
The men, however, were terrorists with the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, or the "Promised Day Brigades," according to the U.S. government. After entering the compound they threw grenades and opened fire with automatic rifles. One soldier through himself on a grenade, which detonated and killed him. The invaders captured four Americans and fled, murdering them and dumping their bodies during their escape.
That's just one of more than 50 scenic narratives laid out in a 207-page class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn this week against a handful of international banks, which includes 11 North Carolinians as plaintiffs. The suit accuses the banks of supporting terror during the Iraq War by transferring billions of dollars on behalf of Iran, alleging that the banks should bear responsibility for U.S. military casualties and injuries.
"The complaint arises out of the Islamic Republic of Iran's decades-long scheme to evade U.S. sanctions and provide material support" to terrorists like Hezbollah, according to the suit, which was filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The defendant banks are HSBC, Barclays, Standard Chartered, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Credit Suisse.
The Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq fighters described in the Karbala attack were partially trained and armed by Iran's Qods Force, according the lawsuit. North Carolinian Billy Wallace, one of the plaintiffs, was wounded during the Karbala battle while helping to defend the compound. He sustained serious shrapnel injuries when a grenade exploded in the doorway of the room he was defending. He suffered hearing loss and tinnitus, and also suffers from PTSD. He has a wife and three sons, who also are plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was the subject of a Nov. 10 New York Times article
, which described the lawsuit as "painting Wall Street as a sort of middleman of terror" and one that "aims to show the human cost of something as impersonal as a wire transfer."
The lawsuit describes the deaths of three servicemen from North Carolina as follows:
On April 6, 2008, Emanuel Pickett, 34, was involved in a mortar attack in which he was killed. The terrorist behind the attack, the Mahdi Army, was trained and armed by Iran's Qods Force with the assistance of Hezbollah. Pickett's mother and brother are plaintiffs.
On April 28, 2008, Adam Marion, 26, was in Iraq when his unit was attacked by the Mahdi Army with improvised rocket-assisted munitions, which killed him. Marion's parents are plaintiffs.
On Nov. 14, 2011, David Emanuel Hickman, 23, was in Iraq when an IED detonated near his vehicle, killing him. The IED was an Iranian-manufactured weapon provided to Iranian-funded and -trained terror operatives in Iraq. Hickman's parents are plaintiffs.