Iran Loses Big Again in Beirut Bombing Case

Iran flag
Iranian flag Caren Firouz/Reuters

In yet another demonstration that the wheels of justice grind so slowly that it’s sometimes hard to see that they are moving, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. has slapped Iran with another whopping financial penalty for the 1983 Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut.

Calling it “an evil and cruel attack, intended to cause death, destruction, and emotional devastation,” Judge Royce Lamberth awarded the 62 relatives of six Marines and two Navy corpsmen $454 million, the latest setback for Iran in a flurry of cases dating back to 2001. Since 2007, D.C. courts have awarded more than $10 billion to victims and their families of the 1983 suicide bombing, which killed 241 Marines and Navy medics, known as corpsmen,  and wounded many others.

“The Court applauds plaintiffs’ persistent efforts to hold Iran accountable for its cowardly support of terrorism,” Lamberth wrote in the Oct. 14 judgment, saying “Iran must be punished to the fullest extent legally possible for the bombing in Beirut on October 23, 1983."

“This horrific act harmed countless individuals and their families, a number of whom receive awards in this lawsuit,” Lambeth added. “This Court hopes that the victims and their families may find some measure of solace from this final judgment.”

Joseph Peter Drennan, an Alexandria, Va. attorney for the plaintiffs, said the judgment “stands as a testament to the rule of law.

“It’s an alternative way of dealing with the scourge of state-sponsored terrorism,” Drennan told Newsweek in a brief telephone interview Wednesday. “It puts them on notice that whatever Iran gained from terrorism is far outweighed by the cost to them.”

Drennan said Iran was “totally unrepentant” about the bombing, noting that a Tehran cemetery has a memorial to the suicide bomber, dispatched by the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

The next hurdle will be actually collecting money from Iran. Last year a federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled that Iranian central bank money held in a New York Citibank account should be turned over to victims’ families to help satisfy a $2.65 billion default judgment against Iran in 2007. The Bank Markazi has until December 29 to take its case to the Supreme Court.