Washington The Iranian government financed a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia and must pay $254 million to the victims' families, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth allows families of the victims of the Khobar Towers bombing to seek their compensation from assets that have been seized from the conservative Islamic regime in Tehran.
On June 25, 1996, a truck bomb exploded in a military housing area known as the Khobar Towers dormitory near Dhahran.
U.S. authorities have long alleged that the bombing was carried out by a Saudi wing of the militant group Hezbollah, which receives support from Iran and Syria.
Though Lamberth has previously ruled that a survivor of the blast could seek payment from Iran, Friday's ruling was the first time Tehran has been blamed for the deaths of the Americans in the bombing.
"The defendants also provided money, training and travel documents to Saudi Hezbollah members in order to facilitate the attacks," Lamberth wrote.
The lawsuit was brought by the families of 17 of the 19 people killed in the attack. Iran never responded to the lawsuit, did not send an attorney to appear in the case and isn't expected to pay the award. Iran has denied any connection to the bombing of the Khobar Towers and has rejected U.S. allegations of its involvement as "unfounded."