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TerrorismFormer Iranian hostage asks feds to seize New York skyscraper to pay for damages

Published 14 February 2017

A former hostage of the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah has asked the federal government to seize a New York City skyscraper that he alleges is a front for the Iranian government in order to collect on his multi-million dollar court judgment against the Islamic Republic.

A former hostage of the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah has asked the federal government to seize a New York City skyscraper that he alleges is a front for the Iranian government in order to collect on his multi-million dollar court judgment against the Islamic Republic, the New York Post reported Friday.

Jeremy Levin, a former CNN reporter who was kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1984 and escaped a year later, was awarded $34.4 million from Iran in a 2008 judgment, but has yet to receive compensation. He filed a lawsuit in federal court last week to seize the building, at 650 Fifth Avenue in Midtown, and use the proceeds to compensate victims of Iranian terror. Nike recently signed a lease in the building estimated to be worth $700 million.

The 36-story building is owned by the Alavi Foundation, which claims on its website that it promotes “Islamic culture.” The foundation has given millions of dollars to universities like Harvard, Columbia, and Hartford Seminary. But a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the foundation knowingly violated money laundering laws and sanctions against Iran when it gave space to the Assa Corporation, which was found to be a front for Bank Melli, a sanctioned Iranian firm. In response, the federal government seized Assa’s 40 percent ownership of the building. Levin’s suit now asks the government to seize the remaining sixty percent.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that a 2012 law allowing American victims of Iranian terror to collect damages from frozen Iranian assets is constitutional.

This article is published courtesy of The Tower