A Federal District court in New York City found the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) liable for facilitating terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 on Monday. The verdict marks an important milestone over a decade-long legal battle and helps set a precedent for other anti-terrorism cases in the future.
After two days of deliberation, a jury awarded $218.5 million to compensate U.S. victims and their families killed and injured during seven different attacks, including a suicide bus bombing. Prosecutors used bank statements to show how the PA paid wages of officials who organized the killings and that Palestinian leaders supplied “martyr payments” to the families of terrorists. Many plaintiffs in the case chose to testify over the past seven weeks, reciting graphic and emotional memories the about loved ones injured or killed in the attacks.
Mark J. Rochon, right, a defense lawyer for the Palestinians, leaving Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday. (Photo: New York Times)
Under the 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act, U.S. victims and their relatives are allowed to sue the financiers of foreign terrorism in Federal Court. The law also automatically triples a jury’s award, entitling the plaintiffs to $655.5 million. However, the PLO and PA plan to appeal the verdict, saying U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction over the incidents. Another PLO official said the jury’s findings were based on America’s “bias and siding towards Israel.” If the two organization refuse to pay lawyers may file judgements in the U.S. and Israel, and pressure the U.S. Department of State and European Union to withhold foreign aid–a major source of revenue for the Palestinians budget.
In a similar trial last year, a Brooklyn jury found Jordan’s Arab Bank liable enabling Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist attacks. Lawyers in the case argued that the bank “knowingly provid[ed] banking and administrative services to charitable front organizations, including collecting, transferring, and laundering funds” for organizations. Hearing to determine damages are scheduled to begin in July.