Gold Star families sue defense contractors over alleged Taliban payoffs

More than 100 Gold Star families have sued several American defense contractors for allegedly paying protection money to the Taliban while building projects in Afghanistan. The payments, the lawsuit argues, “aided and abetted terrorism” against Americans by enabling the Taliban to continue to fight — and kill U.S. troops.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the families of 143 U.S. troops and contract workers killed or wounded in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2017. They were “attacked by a Taliban-led terrorist insurgency that Defendants helped finance,” the suit states.

American companies were collecting U.S. taxpayer money for lucrative rebuilding projects and also paying millions of dollars in protection money to Taliban warloads — while 100,000 American troops were fighting the Taliban there, congressional investigations have documented. 

“Defendants paid the Taliban to leave them alone,” the suit alleges. “The payments saved Defendants money: It was cheaper to buy off the Taliban than it would have been to invest in the security necessary to mitigate the terrorists’ threats.”

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Taliban-closed cement factory in Afghanistan aims to relaunch
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Taliban-closed cement factory in Afghanistan aims to relaunch
The Jabal Saraj cement factory is seen in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Fazil Haq, 50, an employee at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man works at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A cook (C) prepares lunch to be distributed to workers at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker holds a cement sample in a laboratory at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A man works in a laboratory at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker takes a break at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Khuda Daad, head of the laboratory of the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph at his lab in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker looks at an oven through a small hole at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Workers wait for lunch at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker shovels coal at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker poses for a photograph at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Workers break rocks at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A worker at the Jabal Saraj cement factory poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Workers sign attendance sheets as they arrive for work at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Mohammad Hakim Mohammadi, the general director of the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Dadullah, an employee at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, works at a plant in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Men work at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Abdul Salaam, an electrician at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Sacks of cement lay at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Dadullah, a worker at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Workers operate heavy machinery at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Workers sign attendance sheets as they arrive for work at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Dadullah, an employee at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, works at a plant in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Abdul Salaam, an electrician at the Jabal Saraj cement factory, poses for a photograph in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Men work at the Jabal Saraj cement factory in Jabal Saraj, north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016. In an area desperately short of industry and jobs, local workers hope that the relaunch of the plant in Jabal Saraj, built by Czech engineers in 1957 and closed down by the Taliban in 1995, can show that Afghanistan's shattered industry can climb back to its feet after decades of war and destruction. But the outdated state-owned plant some 75 kilometres outside Kabul also shows how far it has to go before that promise can be achieved and there are serious questions over whether it has a viable future unless a new, modern facility is built to replace it. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood SEARCH "AFGHANISTAN CEMENT" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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The money was a major source of funding for the Taliban in 2009. The suit alleges that as much as 40% of the funds for major projects was paid to insurgents. It’s illegal under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act to provide material support to the Taliban, yet none of the companies has been criminally prosecuted, reports NPR. 

One of the plaintiffs lost her husband, Lt. Col. David Cabrera, to a car bomb in Afghanistan in 2011. His widow, August Cabrera, told The Wall Street Journal that she hopes “this will change the way business is done in war zones. I believe that this can bring justice to those of us who have lost somebody.”

The companies in the suit include several top contractors working for the U.S. government. Two of the companies collected some $1 billion in funds in just two years from the United States Agency for International Development, according to the suit.

Few of the companies named in the suit have commented on the case. A representative for Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. told The Wall Street Journal that his company had followed the directives of U.S. government agencies, and was proud of its projects in Afghanistan.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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