The following comes from a June 14 release for the Courthouse News Service.
A California nonprofit wants two Middle Eastern banks and a Kuwaiti sheikh to pay damages for claims they funded the Islamic State’s systematic murder and displacement of Christians in Iraq and Syria.
St. Francis of Assisi, an Alameda-based nonprofit that assists refugees, sued the Kuwait Finance House, Kuveyt-Turk Participation Bank and Hajjaj al-Ajmi in Federal Court on Monday.
“My clients have lost everything,” St. Francis attorney Mogeeb Weiss told Courthouse News. “They’ve lost their property, livelihoods, members of families that have been murdered systematically. It’s very important, for no other reason than it is so unprovoked, other than religious beliefs.”
In February, the European Parliament issued a resolution condemning the genocide of Christians and other religious minority groups in Iraq and Syria. On Feb. 29, White House Press Secretary John Earnest acknowledged ISIS was targeting religious minorities but refused to use the word “genocide.”
The number of Christians in Iraq dropped from 1.4 million to 300,000 from 2003 to 2015. Less than 500,000 Christians remain in Syria today, compared to 1.25 million in 2011, according to 2015 estimates from the Catholic global charity Aid to the Church in Need.
“To successfully plan, fund, and carry out the killings of members of [St. Francis of Assis], ISIS relies upon an open, notorious, well known, and formalized system of terrorist financing which incentivizes and incites the killings and displacement of the Assyrian Christians,” the 19-page complaint states.
The lawsuit says al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti-born, Sunni cleric, organized Twitter campaigns to solicit donations that were funneled through the defendant Kuwait Finance and Turkey-based banks into the hands of terrorists, who target Assyrian Christians with murderous intent, forcing them into refugee camps.
Al-Ajmi was briefly detained by Kuwaiti authorities after the United Nations and U.S. government listed him as a fundraiser for al-Qaida’s Syrian wing, Al Nusra Front, in August 2014….