US mulls prosecution of Schalit deal prisoners
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
FBI, US Justice Dept. "reviewing info" about prisoners freed in Schalit
deal for "potential prosecution," 'Post' learns.
The US is reviewing terror attacks linked to Palestinian security prisoners
released in exchange for soldier Gilad Schalit, for further investigation and
potential prosecution in US courts, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
involved include the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia,
and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. However,
according to US Assistant Attorney-General Ronald Weich, there are “significant
impediments” to prosecuting Palestinian terrorists in the US who are connected
to attacks in which Americans are killed or maimed.
Weich made his
remarks in a letter earlier this month to a group of congressmen and - women who
called on US Attorney-General Eric Holder to prosecute Palestinian terrorists
responsible for killing and maiming Americans.
In that bipartisan letter,
sponsored by congressmen Joe Walsh (R-Ilinois) and Howard Berman (D-California),
the congressmen noted that Israel had released more than a dozen such terrorists
in October 2011 as part of its deal with Hamas to free the kidnapped
Under the 1991 US Anti-Terror Act, the United States may
prosecute foreign nationals who perpetrate terrorist acts against American
citizens, even if those acts are not carried out on US soil. However, for
prosecution to proceed, that law requires the written certification of the US
attorney- general that the alleged offenses were intended to “coerce, intimidate
or retaliate against a government or civilian population.”
his response, Weich said that terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank and
Gaza “present particular challenges,” including collecting evidence that is
admissible in US courts.
“[For] Israeli officials, the focus following an
attack is often, understandably, on clearing the crime scene to minimize
disruption, taking steps to prevent a further attack, and neutralizing the
operatives responsible rather than on collecting evidence consistent with the
standards required for prosecution in the United States,” he wrote, adding that
“obstacles relating to the chain of custody of evidence and admissibility of
confessions often preclude United States prosecution.”
said Holder had raised the issue of the Schalit-deal releases in a recent
meeting with Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, in which Holder discussed the
“importance of cooperation in pursuing justice for the American
Weinstein’s office said on Thursday that it could not confirm
the content of the attorney-general’s meeting with Holder.
months, there have been a growing number of calls for the US to prosecute
Palestinian terrorists who went free in the Schalit deal.
In January, the
Parents Forum for Justice, a group of US citizens and parents whose children
were murdered or maimed by those terrorists, also called on Holder to prosecute
those responsible for harming their families.
In an unrelated initiative
in January, the Zionist Organization of America called on Holder to prosecute
the Schalit-deal terrorists responsible for attacks that killed and wounded
In March, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice for
Victims of Overseas Terrorism said the US Attorney’s Office for the District of
Columbia, the prosecutorial office responsible for these cases, was planning to
meet with US victims of terrorist acts involving Schalit-deal prisoners.