Courtroom sketch of US terror trial.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The first US terrorist trial against the Palestinian Authority kicked into high gear its second day Wednesday, with the plaintiffs calling an expert on the IDF court system and “weaving the web that connects Ramallah to the shooting massacres and suicide bombings.”
Renowned lawyer Nick Kaufman, who has appeared before the International Criminal Court as an IDF lawyer and military court judge, went meticulously through the evidence against the PA and many of its employees relating to six terrorist attacks from 2002- 2004.
The case in New York federal court could carry as much as a billion dollar price tag if the plaintiffs win and could have a range of diplomatic and financial implications for the PA.
The case revolves around a January 22, 2002 assault-rifle attack; suicide bomb attacks on January 27, March 21 and June 19, 2002, and January 29, 2004; and an extra large-scale bombing attack on July 31, 2002 – all in Jerusalem.
The families allege, in the words of US District Judge George B. Daniels, that the PLO carried out terrorist acts to “terrorize, intimidate, and coerce the civilian population of Israel into acquiescing to defendants’ political goals and demands, and to influence the policy of the United States and Israeli governments in favor of accepting defendants’ political goals and demands.”
A large portion of the evidence comes from the conviction of PA employees by the IDF’s West Bank Military Courts. Kaufman explained how the courts operate and recounted in vivid detail aspects of the terrorists’ tactics, including how they avoided checkpoints.
The plaintiffs’ trial lawyer, Kent Yalowitz, and Kaufman explained how the PA provided housing, food, an M-6 rifle with cartridges clipped together, and even how they provided shooter S’id Ramadan with a fresh haircut and brand new sneakers immediately before an attack.
“Go up to paradise with Reebok shoes,” Mohamed Abdullah, a co-conspirator to the attack, said to Ramadan upon giving him the sneakers, according to the IDF court documents.
Lawyers for the defense raised a fresh batch of objections to Judge Daniels, who overruled a long series of them.
When the defense counsel persisted in objecting to the plaintiffs’ binder covers, Daniels replied, “That is a waste of my time and the jury’s time.”
Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who has shepherded the case since its inception years ago, said, “The jury hears today from a military court expert about convictions of the perpetrators of the attacks, which are the subject of the trial, all of whom are employees of the PA.”
She added, “Later on they will hear from the next witness, how all these employees did not act independently, but according to the formal policy of the PA prior to the intifada and throughout its duration.”