US & Canada

Iran funds can go to US Beirut blast victims - Supreme Court

Beirut bomb aftermath Image copyright AP
Image caption The bombing remains one of the worst terror attacks against the US

The US Supreme Court is allowing the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in Beirut and other terror attacks to collect nearly $2bn (£1.4bn) in frozen Iranian assets.

The court ruled in favour of more than 1,300 relatives of the 241 Americans killed at a US Marine barracks.

The US government holds the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, responsible.

Both Hezbollah and Iran have denied any involvement.

Iran's central bank, Bank Markazi, tried to defy court orders demanding payment for losses.

It opposed a law that directs its US assets be turned over to the families.

The bombings of the US embassy and US Marine barracks, both in 1983, are believed to have been carried out by Lebanese Shia militias that went on to form Hezbollah two years later.

The militias were reportedly receiving considerable military training and organisational support from Iran at the time.

Image copyright AP
Image caption More than 200 Marines were killed

The next year, the US withdrew nearly all its troops from Lebanon.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the court rejecting Iran's efforts to avoid the payments.

The law "does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution", she wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, arguing that the 2012 law passed by Congress was an overreach.

More than 1,300 people will receive the money, relatives of victims of the Beirut bombings, a 1996 terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia and other attacks. The lead plaintiff is the sister of a US Marine killed in Beirut.