Palestinian Groups to Pay $218M to US Victims
On Monday the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority were found guilty of backing a series of terrorist attacks in the early 2000s that killed and wounded several Americans.
A U.S. jury in Manhattan awarded the victims of the brutal attacks $218.5 million in damages, a move lawyers of the victims are calling a huge victory in the fight against terrorism.
The suicide bombings and other attacks around Jerusalem claimed the lives of 33 people and wounded more than 450 others.
The plaintiffs in the case against the Palestinians included 10 victims who suffered injuries or psychological scars and four estates of victims who were killed in the attacks.
Under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, the funds awarded to the victims will automatically be tripled bringing them to a total of $655.5 million.
Attorney Nitasha Darshan spoke with CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell about the private efforts to prosecute terrorists. Click play above to see the full interview.
The PLO and Palestinian Authority plan to appeal the verdict and have full confidence they will not be held accountable for the damages.
Mahmoud Khalifa, deputy Palestinian minister of information claims the charges are "baseless" and that this is "just the latest attempt by hardline anti-peace factions in Israel to use and abuse the U.S. legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda."
"We will appeal this decision and we are confident that we will prevail," said Khalifa. "We have faith in the U.S. legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing."
In the meantime, attorneys for the victims have said that if the Palestinian groups refuse to pay, they will collect the awarded damages by pursuing PLO and Palestinian Authority bank accounts, real estate, and other properties in the U.S., Israel, and elsewhere.
The suit has been delayed for years as the defendants and prosecution argued whether the American courts' had the jurisdiction to proceed with this trial.
Recently, the court ruled that the case can go forward under the Anti-Terrorism Act, an act that allows U.S. citizens who are victims of international terrorism to sue in American courts.
The prosecution was able to prove through payroll records, testimonies, and other documents that many of those involved in the attacks were employed by the Palestinian Authority.
Furthermore, they proved the authority made martyr payments to the families of the suicide bombers, to which the defense rebutted that it was illogical to think that payments made after the fact would have motivated the attackers.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, another lawyer for the victims, assured the families they would see their funds.
In 2003, Darshan-Leitner founded Shurat HaDin Law Center. She has represented hundreds of terror victims in cases against Iran, Syria, and North Korea as well as against terror organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the PLO. She has also sued international banks for helping terrorist organizations.
According to Darshan-Leitner, they're holding judgments for more than $1 billion and have collected more than $120 million that's been put in the hands of terror victims.
"Our goal is to get this judgment paid. We did this before. We are going to do it this time again," Darshan-Leitner.