'US urged Israel not to release terrorists'

Washington is committed to bringing those responsible for killing and wounding Americans to justice, American attorney-general says.

By
February 8, 2012 23:41
3 minute read.
Palestinian prisoners on bus before release [file]

Palestinian prisoners on a bus before release [file] 311 (R). (photo credit: Yannis Behrakis / Reuters)

 
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US Attorney-General Eric Holder has told American victims of Palestinian terror that Washington is committed to bringing those responsible for killing and wounding Americans to justice, The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday.

Holder made his remarks in a letter sent to members of the Parents Forum for Justice, a group of US citizens and parents whose children were murdered or maimed by Palestinian terrorists in Israel over the past decade. The letter came after the forum called on Holder in January to commence legal proceedings against terrorists freed in Israel’s deal with Hamas to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

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According to Parents Forum leader and Jerusalem resident Dr. Alan Bauer, 54 American citizens have been murdered and 83 wounded by Palestinian terrorists between 1993 and 2006.

In Holder’s letter, a copy of which has been given to the Post, he said the US Justice Department, State Department and embassy in Tel Aviv had “urged the government of Israel prior to both of the releases in question not to release prisoners responsible for murdering or injuring US citizens before serving their full sentences.”

Among the terrorists released in the Schalit deal were Sana’a Shehadeh and Qahara al-Saadi, two women who helped perpetrate the March 21, 2002, King George Street suicide bombing in Jerusalem, which claimed the lives of three people and wounded 86 others. Bauer and his son Yehonathon, both American citizens, were among those severely injured.

Also released were Ahlam Tamimi, sentenced to 16 life terms for her role in the Sbarro terror bombing that claimed the lives of eight adults and seven children and wounded 130 in Jerusalem on August 2001; Walid al-Hadi Anjas, who received 36 life terms for the July 2002 cafeteria bombing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which claimed the lives of nine people; and Fadi Muhammad al-Jaaba, Maedh Abu Sharakh and Majdi Muhammad Amr, sentenced to multiple life terms for planning the March 2003 Haifa bus 37 bombing that killed 17 people and wounded 53.

Under the US Anti-Terror Act of 1991, 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 was intended to “coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a government or civilian population.”

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The US has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist, Bauer says.

In his letter, Holder told the Parents Forum that the Justice Department is “committed to the principle that those who engage in or materially support terrorist acts against US citizens must be brought to justice, whether in the US or elsewhere, regardless of where the attack took place.

“Accordingly the Department remains committed to bringing appropriate charges against the perpetrators of such acts in the United States whenever such prosecution would be feasible and supported by evidence in our possession,” Holder wrote.

Bauer said the Parents Forum welcomed Holder’s response but that the attorney- general had not addressed the question of why the US has not prosecuted any Palestinian terrorists.

“We are approaching four months since the Schalit release and there is no evidence that the US plans to prosecute any of the 18 terrorists released who have American blood on their hands,” Bauer told the Post on Wednesday.

“So, on the one hand, we are told how important our cases are and how dedicated the Department of Justice is to our cause, but on the ground, we see that no American terror victim can claim with pride that those who harmed him or her is in US custody.”

Bauer said he was frustrated by the lack of prosecutions.

“The law is on our side but those responsible for applying the law do not appear to be equally on our side,” he said.

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