Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of more than 400 Yazidi-Americans against a French cement maker over its role in supporting ISIS.
Nearly 10 years ago, ISIS attacked the Yazidi people in Iraq, in what the UN said constituted a genocide; about 5,000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands of members of the Kurdish-speaking religious group were displaced.
The 317-page lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows plaintiffs to sue corporations that support acts of international terrorism.
The suit targets Lafarge following its guilty plea last year for supporting ISIS; it agreed to pay a $777.8 million penalty after U.S. prosecutors accused the company of paying the terrorist group to keep its factory running in Syria after war broke out in 2011. The lawsuit accuses Lafarge of being aware of and supporting the Yazidi genocide by conspiring with ISIS.
“It is shocking that a leading global corporation worked hand in hand with ISIS while ISIS was executing American civilians and committing genocide against Yazidis,” Clooney said in a statement. “We hope that this case will send a clear message that supporting terrorists cannot be ‘business as usual’ and that there will be justice for the victims.”
Her co-counsel in the case, former White House advisor Lee Wolosky, said Lafarge’s guilty plea and penalty last year is “not enough,’ adding, “Lafarge needs to be held to account by those harmed by its unlawful conduct.”
Lafarge, which became part of Holcim in 2015 to become the world’s largest cement maker, was also the subject of an extensive criminal probe in France, in which it was found complicit in crimes against humanity. The French press also raised questions over whether the country’s intelligence officials were aware of the agreement between Lafarge and ISIS.