WASHINGTON – A group of Washington-based law firms have gone to court, accusing a number of international companies, including South Africa-based telecom giant MTN, of providing material support to terrorist organisations al Qaeda and the Taliban.
According to Reuters, the complaint, filed in the United States District Court in the District of Columbia last Friday, alleges that the firms violated the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by paying protection money to al Qaeda and the Taliban, thereby providing material support to known terrorist organizations.
“Defendants supported the Taliban for a simple reason: Defendants were all large western companies with lucrative businesses in post-9/11 Afghanistan, and they all paid the Taliban to refrain from attacking their business interests,” according to the complaint.
“Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans,” it adds.
The complainant seek damages on behalf of U.S. military members and civilians killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017. MTN Group and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, MTN Dubai and MTN Afghanistan, are listed as defendants.
But MTN spokesperson Nompilo Morafo is quoted by Reuters as saying that they could not yet respond directly to the specific allegations in the report as it was still going through the details.
“We cannot comment further than what we’ve said in the statement. We want a chance to review the allegations. We only received the suit on Friday and we’re still going through it. I also can’t confirm how long it’s going to take,” Morafo is quoted as saying on Monday.
MTN is Africa’s largest mobile operator and eighth biggest in the world with 243.7 million subscribers.
On top of MTN, the court complaint names the London-headquartered G4S Holdings International and its subsidiaries; the Florida company Centerra Group; the Maryland company DAI Global; the Tennessee firm Janus Global Operations; Kansas firm Black & Veatch Special Projects; and the Canadian company Louis Berger Group and its subsidiaries and affiliates.