South Africa’s MTN vowed to defend itself against lawsuits alleging that the company paid the Taliban for protection, providing the insurgency with money that was used to attack and kill U.S. troops.
Africa’s and the Middle East biggest mobile phone operator faces a lawsuit filed United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, 27 December 2019, for violation of the anti-terrorism act.
The complaint was filed on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the plaintiffs are the families of 143 American troops and contractors killed and wounded in Afghanistan.
The defendants named in the complaint are six different groups one of which is MTN and certain of its subsidiary companies including MTN Afghanistan.
MTN, which owns MTN Afghanistan, provides mobile phone telephony services in the country.
The complaint alleges that several Western businesses supported the Taliban by, inter alia, making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure. The Taliban then used the money, according to the lawsuit, to fund attacks on other companies that didn’t make payments to the insurgent group.
“MTN 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,” the South African-based telco said in a statement on Monday.
The National Review reports that the war in Afghanistan, now 18 years old, came under increased scrutiny after the Washington Post published a trove of documents it dubbed the “Afganistan Papers.” The records are from a federal investigation into the war effort and contain reflections of U.S. officials and troops in which they express doubts about the success of the war and the clarity of the military’s mission. The officials also indicated the U.S. repeatedly misrepresented progress in the war to the government and the American people.
The U.S. has been attempting peace negotiations with the Taliban, but talks have proceeded slowly as insurgents have continued to attack American targets.