Nobel prize winner initiates legal action against French cement manufacturer Lafarge for alleged backing of Islamic State

French conglomerate Lafarge is being sued by Nobel laureate Nadia Murad and approximately 430 Americans of Yazidi background for its alleged support of brutal attacks orchestrated by the Islamic State. A civil suit filed in a New York court accuses Lafarge of conspiring with the terrorist group and references the $778m fine and guilty criminal plea from the US Department of Justice in October 2022. The Yazidi plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages and attorney fees, claiming that Lafarge violated the US Anti-Terrorism Act.

Lafarge, which was acquired by Swiss company Holcim in 2015, considers the matter a “legacy issue” that is being responsibly managed, according to a spokesperson.

The lawsuit highlights the atrocities committed by the Islamic State during a 2014 siege, resulting in the murder and abduction of thousands of Yazidis. This led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others, with Yazidi women becoming victims of human trafficking. Nadia Murad, who won the Nobel prize in 2018, was among those subjected to this fate.

The Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority primarily located in Iraq, incorporating elements of Islam and Christianity. They are deemed heretics by jihadists.

The suit filed by the Yazidis points out that Lafarge made payments of $6m to the Islamic State between 2013 and 2014 to acquire raw materials from a cement plant in Syria, which continued to operate during the civil war. The complaint also mentions that US prosecutors identified approximately $80.5m benefiting participants in the conspiracy, including Islamic State and Lafarge.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are Yazidis who are US citizens. Many of them had served as translators for the US Army or had relatives who did. They come from diverse backgrounds such as farming, teaching, housekeeping, and small business ownership, all of which were profoundly disrupted on the day of the August 2014 siege.

In addition to this case, Lafarge is also facing charges of complicity in crimes against humanity in a separate case dating back to 2018 in France.

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