Families of Americans killed in Afghanistan sue contractors over alleged Taliban payments

Families of more than 140 U.S. service members and contractors killed or wounded in Afghanistan are suing U.S. and international contractors, alleging that those companies paid the Taliban for security services -- giving the group money that later funded deadly attacks on U.S. troops.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by families of 143 troops and contractors killed and wounded between 2009 and 2017, seeks damages under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act.

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"While these men and women worked to rebuild post-invasion Afghanistan, they were attacked by a Taliban-led terrorist insurgency that Defendants helped finance,” the lawsuit says.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the lawsuit, the companies named in the lawsuit include a host of U.S. government contractors, including two top contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Developments. Companies are alleged to have often paid the Taliban through local subcontractors, who then in turn funneled payments or hired Taliban guards.

The lawsuit says that the companies were all large Western companies with lucrative businesses in the country and so allegedly paid the Taliban in order to protect their interests from attacks.

“Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans,” the lawsuit says.

The filing says that the lawsuit is based on evidence including interviews with a number of confidential witnesses with direct and indirect knowledge, internal company documents, declassified government documents and congressional testimony and investigations.

“The plaintiffs look forward to proving their case to a jury," Ryan R. Sparacino, one of the lawyers, told Fox News. "Though this litigation will not bring back the family members who were lost, or reverse the permanent, life-altering injuries that were suffered, the jury will determine the appropriate measure of financial compensation due the plaintiffs."

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The U.S. has been involved in Afghanistan since shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. President Trump has expressed frustration about the war and has indicated that he wants to bring U.S. troops home.

The U.S. and the Taliban re-opened peace talks in December, focusing on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence -- with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.