MTN Group said on Monday that it is facing a lawsuit over alleged contravention of the US Anti-Terrorism Act in Afghanistan where it is accused of paying protection money to the Taliban.
The suit was filed in a Washington, DC court on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.
“The complaint alleges that several Western businesses supported the Taliban by … making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure,” MTN said in a statement to shareholders.
“The defendants named in the complaint are six different groups, one of which is MTN and certain of its subsidiary companies, including MTN Afghanistan.”
Various media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and CNN reported at the weekend that the lawsuits, against a “number of prominent contractors”, were filed last Friday.
MTN and the other companies stand accused of “funnelling millions of dollars in payments to the Taliban for protection that funded the group’s attacks on American troops in the region”, CNN said. The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist group waging war, or jihad, in Afghanistan.
“The firms allegedly used a network of subcontractors and private security groups to transfer cash to Taliban agents, and in some cases dole out salaries to certain Taliban ‘guards’ between 2006 and 2014, while the group was allying with al-Qaeda and waging a violent campaign against US forces and their allies”, CNN reported, quoting the details of the suit.
‘Buying off terrorists’
“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 jeopardised other American lives,” the lawsuit said.
“Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans.”
MTN said it is “reviewing the details of the report and is consulting its advisers but remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and so intends to defend its position where necessary”. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media