Oct 12, 2018

McGuireWoods Consulting Helps Secure Passage of New Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, Helping Victims of Foreign Terror Attacks Pursue Financial Recoveries

Continuing a decades-long effort to combat the financing and support of foreign terrorist attacks against US citizens, McGuireWoods Consulting has helped secure passage of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 (“the Act”), recently signed into law by President Trump.

The bipartisan legislation, signed by the President on October 3 following congressional passage in mid-September, narrows a key legal exemption that terror organizations have used to escape accountability from an original law passed in 1992. The new Act (H.R. 5954/S. 2946) will give victims and their families a much stronger hand to play when seeking compensation for fatalities and injuries at the hands of foreign terror organizations.

Playing a key role in passage of the bill was Frank J. Donatelli, a Capitol Hill veteran and former deputy chair of the Republican National Committee who heads federal public affairs for the Washington office of McGuireWoods Consulting. Mr. Donatelli helped lead a multi-pronged lobbying team that collaborated to pass the Act, working on behalf of veterans and military families victimized by foreign terror attacks, among other groups.

“The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act is an important step forward for terror victims. Congress’ continued support in developing a set of laws that allows victims to obtain justice and can recover for their losses is a major development for victims’ rights,” said Mr. Donatelli.

The Act amends three different sections of the 1992 Anti-Terror Act, giving an important class of victims the ability to bring actions against terrorist organizations. The Act spells out that the so-called “act of war” defense applies only to nation-states and prevents terror organizations from using the defense when they infiltrate the theater of war.

McGuireWoods Consulting previously secured an amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (2008) that ultimately resulted in collections by Marine families from Iranian assets beginning in 2016. For embassy victims’ families, Mr. Donatelli led a team that successfully pushed for a new law directing DOJ to use funds seized from terrorist-state governments to satisfy American court judgments.

As part of a separate bill that Mr. Donatelli helped with in 2015, a 10-year revolving fund was created that can pay off portions of any judgment reached against terror organizations. Prior to the creation of the fund, victims had to scour the world for the assets of the terror organization.

The new Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).  The bill’s Senate sponsors included Charles Grassley (R-IA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ted Cruz (R-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

Other members of McGuireWoods Consulting federal policy team working on the Terrorism Clarification Bill with Mr. Donatelli were Mona Mohib, Lai King Lam and Robert Wasinger.