MTN Group has asked a US court to dismiss a case filed against it last December, in which it’s alleged the South African-headquartered telecommunications operator paid protection money to the Taliban in Afghanistan, endangering the lives of US servicemen and women.
The suit was filed in a Washington, DC court on 27 December 2019 on behalf of American service members and civilians, and their families, who were killed or wounded in the troubled Middle Eastern country between 2009 and 2017.
The complaint alleged that several Western businesses supported the Taliban by making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure — in MTN’s case, it’s cellphone towers. The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist group waging a religious war, of jihad, in Afghanistan.
“The firms allegedly used a network of subcontractors and private security groups to transfer cash to Taliban agents, and in some cases dole out salaries to certain Taliban ‘guards’ between 2006 and 2014, while the group was allying with al-Qaeda and waging a violent campaign against US forces and their allies”, CNN reported at the time, quoting the details of the suit.
“Defendants decided that buying off the terrorists was the most efficient way to operate their businesses while managing their own security risks — even though doing so jeopardised other American lives,” the lawsuit said.
MTN has now filed a “motion to dismiss” the matter with the US court.