MTN fights US lawsuit over alleged terrorist payments

MTN has filed a motion to dismiss with the US court, seeking the termination of a lawsuit filed against the company on 27 December 2019.

In the lawsuit, the United States accused MTN of supporting the Taliban by making payments to the terrorist group to ensure the protection of its infrastructure.

MTN has requested the US court to end the lawsuit and grant a judgement in its favour, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction over MTN as it does not operate in the United States and that the lawsuit does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the US Anti-Terrorism Act.

“Under US law and procedures, MTN is not permitted at this stage of the lawsuit to challenge or contest the factual allegations made against the company, so the motion to dismiss focuses on the lack of jurisdiction and the legal insufficiency of the claims,” MTN said.

“MTN has deep sympathy for those who have been injured or lost loved ones as a result of the tragic conflict in Afghanistan.”

The motion to dismiss states that “the MTN Defendants are not the extremists that caused Plaintiffs’ tragic losses and injuries”.

“To the contrary, MTN Afghanistan has been lauded by the World Bank for expanding telecommunications services to the impoverished people of Afghanistan and has itself been a target of violence in the devastating conflict in that war-torn country.”

“Put simply, Plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendants in the wrong court based on insufficient allegations,” the motion states.

MTN said it remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and, as reflected in the motion to dismiss, intends to defend its position accordingly.

Original complaint

The lawsuit against MTN was filed at the end of 2019 on behalf of American service members, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.

The complaint alleged that a number of Western businesses supported the Taliban by making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure.

The defendants named in the lawsuit included MTN Afghanistan.

The plaintiffs in the case are reportedly 143 American troops and contractors who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan.

According to a report on the initial lawsuit by CNN, MTN is not only accused of making payments to the Taliban, but also of deactivating their network infrastructure at the group’s request.

“Defendants decided that buying off the terrorists was the most efficient way to operate their businesses while managing their own security risks — even though doing so jeopardized other American lives,” the lawsuit stated.

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MTN fights US lawsuit over alleged terrorist payments