WASHINGTON (CN) - The families of more than 100 U.S. soldiers killed or severely wounded in the Iraq War sued Iran, claiming the country's military trained the proxy terror militias ravaging the country.
The Feb. 12 lawsuit, filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, seeks compensatory damages for numerous militia attacks or blasts from sophisticated, improvised explosive devices during the U.S. military campaign in Iraq from 2004 to 2011. The attacks are considered extrajudicial killings not covered by typical warfare, the complaint states.
The lawsuit details several Shi'a brigades and militias ostensibly created by or funded by Iran during the last decade. It also lists among the responsible agents the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah, widely believed to be funded by Iran, and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, both of which are U.S.-designated terrorist groups.
"Even though U.S. military personnel in Iraq were participants in an internationally recognized peacekeeping mission, Iran embarked on a policy of terrorism, murder, kidnapping, and torture to thwart those efforts," the lawsuit states.
Among the plaintiffs are the wife and children of Timothy Karcher, who lost both his legs and suffered other near-death injuries after an improvised explosive device blew up during his patrol outside Sadr City in Baghdad.
Also suing Iran is the family of Robert Arsiaga, who was killed in 2004 during an attack by the Mahdi Army, which was trained by Iranian military and Hezbollah, according to the lawsuit.
Another plaintiff, Robert Bartlett, says he suffered third-degree burns and had part of his head severed as a result of an improvised explosive.
The lawsuit also lays blame at Iran's feet for the Jan. 20, 2007, terrorist attack at a U.S. military base in Karbala, in which Shi'a terrorist groups dressed like U.S. soldiers and drove five black GMC trucks through U.S. military checkpoints and then opened fire on U.S. soldiers and detonated several explosives.
Five U.S. soldiers died in the 2007 attack and three were wounded. Hezbollah was blamed for training the militia and planning the attack.
The lawsuit references Iran's involvement in proxy warfare in Iraq that predates the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Iran "had long cultivated ties to Shi'a opposition groups opposed to Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, including the Badr Corps that was headquartered in Iran throughout Iraq in the 1990s," the lawsuit states. "Before 2003, the Badr Corps served as Iran's most important surrogate inside Iraq."
Thousands of members of the Badr Corps have remained on Iran's payroll and key senior members of the group have funneled weapons to proxy groups in Iraq, the lawsuit alleges.
Iran has been sued before over its alleged terrorist activities, including having bank funds seized due to its involvement in the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut.
Iran's presence in Iraq is virtually uncontested, but experts differ on the extent of the Shi'a country's involvement.
Iran has reportedly manufactured and shipped sophisticated explosive devices to militias in Iraq, as well as sent Misagh-1 surface-to-air missiles and various guns. Some military estimates claim Iran's involvement in Iraq has led to the death of at least 500 U.S. troops since 2004, though some experts, and Friday's lawsuit, calculate the number to be at least double that.
In 2014, Iran also began to provide military aide and training to counter the rise of the Sunni terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
The plaintiffs who sued Iran on Feb. 12 seek punitive damages. They are represented by Aaron Schlanger of Osen LLC in New York City.Follow @NickRummell
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.