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Shell, Iran and 9/11

Basically Shell is holding on to over $2 billion of  funds belonging to an ‘adjudicated terrorist’ – Iran – and is denying those funds to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

By John Donovan

I have already reported how Shell management attempted to exploit the 9/11 attacks for their own benefit.

I have also reported on how Shell disguised oil shipping movements in an attempt to evade US sanctions on Iran and how Shell panicked when I contacted Bill O’Reilly of Fox News calling for a related boycott of Shell in the USA. 


In December 2011, a US judge signed a judgement finding Iran one of the parties liable for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

SEE NEWS ARTICLE : US Judge rules Iran responsible for 9/11


The signed ruling came in a $100 billion lawsuit brought by victims’ families. Judge Daniels signed findings of fact saying the plaintiffs had established that the attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al-Qaida. It also said Iran continued to provide material support and resources to al-Qaida by providing a safe haven for al-Qaida leadership and rank-and-file members. During last week’s hearing, September 11 victims’ families sat through a four-hour presentation from lawyers who cited evidence supporting their claims that Iran actively assisted the hijackers of planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Former members of the September 11 Commission and three Iranian defectors also spoke.

A ruling was also made that Iran is an ‘adjudicated terrorist.’ 

(See also: Havlish, et al vs Osama Bin Laden, Iran, et al)

Having obtained these landmark rulings, the victims families, led by courageous lead plaintiff, Fiona Havlish, whose husband, Donald, perished in the attack on the World Trade Centre, were faced with the problem of actually extracting compensation from Iran.

Since Shell owes Iran over $2 billion, the victims launched legal proceedings against Royal Dutch Shell Plc. 

Basically Shell is holding on to over $2 billion in funds belonging to an ‘adjudicated terrorist’ – Iran – and is denying those funds to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

I have obtained a copy of a related legal document filed with the United States District Court Southern District of New York on 23 May, 2014. 

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This Court entered a judgment, the validity of which is not challenged by Shell, which found that the Islamic Republic of Iran (“Iran”) and its agents, including the National Iranian Oil Company (“NIOC”), are sponsors of terrorism within the meaning of 28 USC 1605A and are liable under to Petitioners for aiding and supporting the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. NIOC is admittedly owed over $2.3 billion by Shell or wholly owned Shell subsidiaries, and Petitioners seek to execute on this debt, in partial satisfaction of this Court’s $6 billion judgment against NIOC.

In response to the petition, Shell could have remained neutral, or at least interpleaded the funds at issue, as Sprint and others have done in cases against Iranian agencies.1 Instead, Shell has opted to attempt to block petitioners from obtaining the funds that NIOC is undisputedly owed and that Shell undisputedly controls.

Even more surprisingly, Shell argues for dismissal, before any discovery, on the basis of arguments that read restrictions into unambiguous statutory language, and that rely on the unsupported “understanding” of a non-lawyer. Shell also claims this Court lacks personal jurisdiction, even though it is by revenue the world’s largest company, with 22,000 employees in the U.S., hundreds of billions of dollars of business in New York and throughout the United States, and multi-billion dollar refineries, pipelines, terminals, wells, plants, and other major facilities from New York to the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska.

Shell leans heavily on “sovereign immunity” and “customary international law,” but it completely ignores that NIOC is an adjudged sponsor of terrorism, with responsibility for the worst terrorist attack on record for both persons (nearly 3,000 deaths) and property ($40 billion in damages). Terrorists, including terrorist states and their instrumentalities, have no sovereign immunity and no rights under customary international law. Like the torturer, pirate, and slave trader, the terrorist is “hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind.” Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, 630 F.2d 876, 890 (2d Cir. 1980).2

Accordingly, Shell’s motion should be denied. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction to execute on NIOC’s assets, even on assets located outside the U.S. In any event, Petitioners are entitled to discovery to determine where the assets are located. And this Court has general personal jurisdiction over Shell, which has affiliations with New York and the United States that are so continuous and systematic as to render it “essentially at home” in New York and/or the United States, and which has consented to be sued here. Finally, “comity” does not oblige this Court to refrain from ordering the turnover of the NIOC assets, and U.S. statutes mandate such an order.



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