A jury in a New York City court awarded a multi-million dollar award in a high-profile terrorism suit. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority have been ordered to pay a bill totaling more than $655 million for their complicity in and funding of terrorist attacks that happened in Israel, between 2002 and 2004. Dozens of American plaintiffs are involved, from sustaining injuries in said terror attacks or having family members who died in the named attacks.
In these attacks, which included American citizens as well as Israelis and individuals of other nationalities, 33 people were killed and over 450 were hurt. The case was argued under the rubric of the Anti-Terrorism Act?which allows American citizens who are victims of international terrorist attacks to sue in United States courts for damages.
“Any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorneys’ fees.”
The United States has referred to legal actions used in some European nations, as well as Israel, to shape this legislation.
Lawyers referred to payroll records, documents and other testimony to form their case, and show that the attacks were financed by the Palestinian Authority, had made martyr payments to suicide-bombers’ families, and similar costs. The PLO and PA have denounced the legal decision in “Sokolow v. PLO.”
What are the ramifications of this legal decision? For one, this could present a policy dilemma for the United States and European nations that provide funding for the Palestinian Authority, which has been considered “moderate” compared to Al-Aksa Brigade and Hamas. Another consideration is whether or not any money will actually find its way to the victims who prevailed in this case. As well, will the case be appealed, and then end up back in court? If so, for how long? Civil cases can drag on for years.
People often do not realize how crucial funding is to terrorist groups. Boko Haram, ISIS/ISIL, al-Quaeda, and other groups are not just wielding weapons: they have fundraising arms that?generate money through businesses, donors?and social media?to help to raise their profile and fill their?coffers.