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On Tuesday the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to seize Iran’s internet domain (.ir) and IP addresses in order to recover more than $1 billion in damages that the Islamic Republic owes for its sponsorship of global terror.
The Times of Israel reports on the action taken in response to the lawsuit brought by Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, on behalf of a group of terror victims and their survivors:
The United State District Court decided that the .ir domain name, along with Iran’s IP addresses — without which Iranian websites cannot be included in the World Wide Web — were assets that could be seized to satisfy judgments against the Islamic state of more than a billion dollars, owed by Iran to Israeli and US victims of terror perpetrated by the Hamas and Hezbollah organizations, among others.
As a result, Shurat Hadin, representing those victims, could collect the fees Iran pays to keep its Internet going — or force an auction of Iran’s Internet assets to satisfy the judgment.
ICANN has 10 days to respond to the order. ICANN will likely argue that legally Iran’s internet properties cannot be seized. After that, the plaintiffs will have ten days to respond with a counterclaim.
An intellectual property lawyer interviewed by the New York Post called the legal strategy “very creative and very aggressive.” While it is uncertain that the strategy will succeed in the ICANN case, other efforts to recover damages from Iran have succeeded. Last year a federal court seized a skyscraper belonging to Iran. It was the largest terror related forfeiture. Subsequently, a court ruled that proceeds from the sale of that building could be used to pay damages to families of terror victims.
One of the plaintiffs is the estate of Leah Stern, which won a $12 million judgment against Iran in 2003. The decision, issued by Judge Royce Lamberth, establishes the chain of responsibility from Iran to Hamas.
The Tower Magazine editor David Hazony profiled Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in The Woman Who Makes Jihadis Squirm, which was published in the February 2014 issue of the magazine. Hazony summarized the effects of Darshan-Leitner’s efforst to hold state sponsors of terror accountable for their crimes:
In the last decade, Nitsana’s team has won over $1 billion in judgments. These have resulted in the freezing of over $600 million in assets around the world—money that otherwise would be funding terror operations. And over $120 million in actual awards have been transferred into the hands of the victims.