A group of American victims of Palestinian terror called on US Attorney-General
Eric Holder on Thursday to prosecute the perpetrators of the bombings that
harmed them and their families.
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The Parents Forum for Justice (PFJ), a
group of US citizens and parents whose children were murdered or maimed by
Palestinian terrorists in Israel over the past decade, sent a letter to Holder
asking him to commence legal proceedings against prisoners freed in Israel’s
recent deal with Hamas to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad
Under the 1991 US Anti-Terror Act, the United States can
prosecute foreign nationals who perpetrate terrorism against American citizens,
even if those acts are not carried out on US soil. However, for prosecution to
proceed, the law requires the written certification of the American
attorney-general that the offenses had been intended to “coerce, intimidate or
retaliate against a government or civilian population.”
“These laws were
enacted to ensure that American citizens abroad had the protections of US
criminal law, wherever those Americans may be, including in Israel,” the PFJ
said in its letter to Holder.
According to PFJ member and Jerusalem
resident Alan Bauer, 83 American citizens were killed and 54 wounded in
Palestinian terror attacks between 1993 and 2006.
Several of the
perpetrators were released as part of the Schalit deal. They include Sana’a
Shehadeh and Qahara al-Saadi, two women who assisted in a March 2002 bombing on
Jerusalem’s King George Street, which claimed the lives of three and injured 86
Bauer and his son, Yehonathon, both American citizens, were
severely wounded in that bombing.
Others released as part of the Schalit
deal include Ahlam Tamimi, sentenced to 16 life terms for her role in the 2001
bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, which killed eight adults and
seven children, including two American citizens, and Walid al-Hadi Anjas, who
received 36 life terms for the July 2002 canteen bombing at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, which left nine people dead, including five
Fadi Muhammad al-Jaaba, Maedh Abu Sharakh and Majdi Muhammad
Amr, sentenced to multiple life terms for planning a 2003 Haifa bus bombing that
claimed the lives of 17 people, among them 14-year-old American schoolgirl
Abigail Leitel, were also let go in the deal and should be indicted by the US,
the PFJ letter said.
“[Since their release] we have had to endure the
sight of these unrepentant killers not only walking free but also being embraced
as heroes, celebrated and honored by the communities to which they have now
returned, and by the US-funded Palestinian Authority.”
The group says
that despite US anti-terror laws and assurances that authorities are
investigating their cases, the Department of Justice has so far failed to indict
or prosecute a single terrorist.
Bauer says he has been in contact with
the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT) in Washington
DC, which was established in 2005 to monitor the investigation and prosecution
of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad. the office was mandated by the
2004 Koby Mandell Act, named for a 13-year-old Israeli-American boy murdered by
Palestinian terrorists three years previously.
“[OJVOT] is very helpful
at giving information, but the office has no power to issue indictments. They
only monitor the situation,” Bauer said.
“The FBI is supposed to do the
groundwork in order to gather information for indictments, but ultimately the
decisions are made by the attorney-general.”
Bauer said that after the
first stage of the Schalit-deal releases in October, he asked the FBI whether
the US intended to make an effort to arrest and try those released prisoners who
had harmed American citizens.
An agent involved in the cases told him
that the FBI had been investigating the attack that injured him and his son,
with the aim of prosecuting the perpetrators in American courts.
though, nothing has happened, said Bauer, who blames this partly on US
reluctance to upset its delicate relationship with the Palestinian
Bauer also said that the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel
B. Shapiro, informed him that the US had sent a letter to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s office a day before the first group of 1,027 Palestinian
security prisoners was released in the first round of the Schalit
“Shapiro said that letter asked the Israeli government not to
release prisoners with American blood on their hands, but that if they were
released the US reserved the right to prosecute them,” Bauer said.
added that he hoped that the PFJ’s letter to Holder would prompt, saying the
group planned to continue its campaign.
“We would like the US authorities
to arrest those terrorists released under the Schalit deal,” he said. “For
example, [Sbarro terrorist] Tamimi is the perfect candidate for an indictment.
The US knows that she now is living in Amman. She has admitted her role in the
attack, including on video. The US has an extradition treaty with Amman. We just
want to see these terrorists back in jail.”