The family of Omar Mahmoudzadeh, an American citizen who died in an Iranian ballistic missile and drone attack in Iraq last year, announced they are suing the Islamic Republic in a United States court.
According to reports, Mahmoudzadeh, along with several others, was killed by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) bombing campaign in September, when the regime attacked Iraq’s Kurdistan area to pressure Iranian Kurdish opposition groups that it accused of fomenting unrest following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police over her hijab wear.
The lawsuit was filed this week in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. by the deceased American’s wife and daughter, who are seeking $300 million in punitive and $50 million in compensatory damages “for severe personal injuries and other irreparable harm,” suffering because of his extrajudicial killing and alleged actions of terrorism by the I.R.G.C.
The lawsuit was filed under the terrorism exception of the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (F.S.I.A). by the family’s attorney Ali Herischi of Herischi Human Rights Law Center.
Herischi told reporters that this death was downplayed by the Biden administration, which condemned the attack at the time, calling it “an unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Regrettably, U.S. officials remained silent in publicly holding Iran accountable,” Herischi told Al-Monitor. “It appears that the U.S. has chosen to bury that issue.”
The 14-page complaint said that the I.R.G.C.’s strikes were an “organized, tactical operation intended to target Kurdish, Iranian civilians and refugees.”
According to local media outlets, the I.R.G.C. fired several short-range ballistic missiles and military drones at bases that the Islamic Republic claims were used by “separatist terrorists.”
The attack happened in Koye, an Iraqi Kurdish town, which is 65 kilometers east of the Kurdistan capital Erbil, resulting in 50 people being injured.
The complaint noted there were “mountains of concrete rubble that were once classrooms, hysterical children, and shambles of displaced furniture.”
According to reports, the deceased American was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (K.D.P.I.), an exiled Iranian opposition group that has sought independence for Iran’s Kurdish community. During the September attack, Mahmoudzadeh was near the K.D.P.I.’s headquarters in Koye. The deceased American was born in the western Iranian city of Mahabad, spending decades in Iran and Iraq before moving to the U.S. in the late 1990s. In America, he raised his family in Northern Virginia and then returned to Iraq to work as a volunteer with refugees in Koya.
In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s mission to the United Nations told Al-Monitor that officials in Tehran had no information on whether any American citizens were killed in the “precise attack” on a “terrorist headquarters” in Iraq, saying that “If a U.S. citizen was among them, then it’s the U.S .government’s responsibility to explain why a U.S. citizen was at the terrorists’ headquarters.”
Following the protests that occurred last year in Iran, European nations have condemned the missile attacks across the Iraqi border, stating that such actions have put regional stability at risk. Despite the actions by Western European countries and the U.S. against the Islamic Republic over its crackdown on protests, the government continues its repression while blaming Israel and the West for fomenting the protests.