Palestinian prisoners on bus 521.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem )
A group of 52 congressmen and women called on US Attorney-General Eric Holder
on Thursday to prosecute Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing and
In a bipartisan letter sponsored by congressmen Joe
Walsh (R-Illinois) and Howard Berman (D-California), the lawmakers said Israel
released more than a dozen such terrorists in October 2011 as part of its deal
with Hamas to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
“Because of the
circumstances of this forced release, their prosecution under American law is
not precluded by principles of double jeopardy, and they should, if prosecuted,
suffer the full consequences of having violated American law,” the letter says
of those terrorists.
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.”
also slams as “disappointing” the US Department of Justice’s record regarding
terrorism committed in Israel and its neighboring territories, saying that the
US has never indicted, extradited or prosecuted any of the Palestinian
terrorists responsible for perpetrating the 71 terrorist attacks since 1993 in
which Americans were killed or injured.
“Murder and assault of American
citizens anywhere in the world must be promptly and effectively punished by the
United States in United States courts under United States law,” the letter says,
asking Holder to prosecute terrorists or explain why such actions would be
Sarah N. Stern, founder and president of the Washington,
DC-based pro-Israel think tank Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), began the
bipartisan letter initiative, and told the Post that the US Department of
Justice has “absolutely no excuse for not prosecuting these terrorists in
“Not to do so makes a total mockery over president
George [W.] Bush’s statement, ‘either you are with us, or you are with the
terrorists,’” Stern added.
As former national policy coordinator of the
Zionist Organization of America, Stern says she helped push for the 2004 Koby
Mandell Act to be passed, as a result of which the Department of Justice
established a new department, the Office for Justice for Victims of Overseas
OJVOT’s mandate is to monitor the “investigation and
prosecution of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad.”
since OJVOT was established, it has assisted in the indictment of only one
terrorist suspect, the killer of an American Christian missionary in Indonesia,
the bipartisan letter to Holder points out.
Stern said she made her
decision to initiate the bipartisan letter to Holder after a visit to Israel
last October, when the government released 1,027 prisoners in the first wave of
the Schalit deal.
Among the Palestinian terrorists released was Ahlam
, sentenced to 16 life terms for murder for her role in driving the
suicide bomber who carried out the 2001 Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem.
Two Americans were among the 15 people murdered in the attack: Judith Greenbaum,
31, from New Jersey, and 15-year-old Malki Roth from New York.
Tamimi had given an interview in prison, in which she expressed her delight in
the terrorist attack and said she would do it again if she had the
“She had erroneously though that the act had led to the death of
four children. When told by the interviewer that it had led to the death of
eight, an immediate smile of deep satisfaction came across her face,” Stern
said, recalling Tamimi’s interview.
The bipartisan letter is the latest
of a growing number of calls for the US to prosecute Palestinian terrorists
released in the Schalit deal, including Tamimi.
Last month, the Parents
Forum for Justice, a group of US citizens and parents whose children were
murdered or maimed by Palestinian terrorists released under the Schalit deal,
also called on Holder to prosecute those responsible for harming their
In an unrelated initiative last month, the ZOA also called on
Holder to prosecute terrorists released in the Schalit deal who were responsible
for attacks that killed and wounded Americans.