1983 Marine Barracks Bombing Beirut
Source: Bill Foley/AP Photo

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act | A Tumultuous Journey to Iran and Beyond


The nine justices of the Supreme Court, from roughly 8,000 petitions that have arrived at the Court, have chosen approximately 75 cases. One of these cases is an appeal by the Central Bank of Iran. Supreme Court, on October 1, 2015, agreed to review a case related to the assets attached by the Americans who were the victims of the acts of terrorism, allegedly instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. [The request for review process by the Supreme Court was initiated on December 29, 2014, by Bank Markazi, that is, the Central Bank of Iran. On March 2, 2015, Deborah Peterson responded on behalf of the appellees, the victims’ families. On August 19, 2015, the United States filed its own brief as amicus curiae. On September 1, 2015, the Central Bank of Iran filed its second brief].

The legal standing of the Central Bank of Iran, in light of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), is not the only issue that is before the Supreme Court. There is a different—and more formidable —question that in the process of its deliberation, the High Court will inevitably deal with. That question is the serpentine world of the United States regulations emanated from the U.S. Department of Treasury (“DOT”) and specially the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). As we will see later, the decisions of several U.S. courts of appeals, on examining the reach of the TRIA as to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack, were heavily influenced by the Department of Treasury’s ubiquities regulatory application on the TRIA, resulting in preventing the victims of the terrorism from obtaining “a tiny morsel of their billions in damages.” As one court readily acknowledged, the harm is nonetheless concrete. [United States v. All Funds on Deposit with R.J. O’Brien & Assocs. 783F.3d.607; 2015, U.S. App. Lexis 5305.]

Written by: Dr. John Vafai

Archival Facilitated Research & Publications by Dr. John Vafai

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