Tower of terror? Judge orders Iranian owned skyscraper sold to benefit terror victims

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MIDTOWN (PIX11) — A high-end office building in Midtown is among properties that will now be sold to compensate victims of terrorism, according to a ruling by a federal judge.

The attacks those victims and their families suffered may have been orchestrated by the owner of the Midtown hi-rise at 650 Fifth Avenue: the government of Iran.

“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Jamie Bernard,of the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. He represents the families of terror attack victims.

Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the U.S. government can seize holdings of the Alavi Foundation and resell many of them in order to raise money to compensate the families of victims of terror who, in the past, have won judgments in their favor.

Owners of Midtown commercial building used rents to finance terror: Feds

The federal government says the owners of the building used rents to finance terrorist operations.

650 Fifth Avenue is owned by the Alavi Foundation, and the judge sided with prosecutors, who argued that Alavi is controlled by Iran. Alavi also owns buildings in Queens, suburban Washington, DC, Texas and California, as well as bank accounts and other assets.

The judge ruled those holdings must now be turned over to families of victims of terrorist acts, such as the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, or the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. Air Force facility in Saudi Arabia.

“What this shows,” said Bernard, “is that an aggressive litigation strategy where lawyers go and pursue assets and find those assets, that that can work, and it’s worked here.”

Attorneys for the Alavi Foundation and Related Properties have not made any public statement about the judge’s ruling. However, it is widely expected to be appealed.