Sanctions and Terrorism

The United States imposes a wide variety of economic sanctions on foreign individuals, foreign corporations, countries, terrorist organizations, and other entities. Sanctions are an increasingly important part of U.S. foreign policy and they play a significant role in the work of the United Nations, the European Union, and some other countries.  Many sanctions do not give rise to litigation, but some do. Indeed, some sanctions legislation provides a cause of action, lifts foreign sovereign immunity, or otherwise makes it easier to sue sanctioned entities in the United States.

Sanctions related to terrorism generate a lot of litigation, so we have grouped the two topics together.  Sanctions are imposed for many reasons other than terrorism, however, and some terrorism-related litigation is not a product of sanctions. Finally, sanctions are a controversial topic globally, in part because it is unclear that they are effective at changing behavior and in part because they often have negative consequences for marginalized communities in the countries subjected to sanctions, including countries like Afghanistan, Iran, and Venezuela.

Recent Posts

Halkbank On Remand: Immunity and Extraterritoriality – Judicial Deference or Customary International Law?

The Supreme Court surprised some by ruling unanimously in Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not protect Halkbank from criminal prosecution in U.S. courts. Seven Justices concluded that the FSIA applies solely to civil actions but remanded the case – without guidance – for the Second…

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Supreme Court Finds Tech Companies Not Liable for Terrorism

Last week, the Supreme Court decided two cases in which plaintiffs alleged that social media companies aided and abetted international terrorism. In the first case, Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, the Justices unanimous interpreted the Antiterrorism Act’s (ATA) provision on aiding and abetting to require conscious and culpable participation. Plaintiffs’ allegations that ISIS used defendants’ social…

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Why the Indictment Against Halkbank Must Be Dismissed

In 2019, the United States indicted Turkiye Halk Bankasi (Halkbank), a Turkish state-owned bank, alleging a multiyear scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran by using fraudulent transactions to transfer the proceeds of oil and gas sales to Iran. Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Halkbank’s claim of immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act…

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