US terror victims: Prosecute Palestinian terrorists

Americans call on A-G Holder to use anti-terror laws to indict prisoners freed in Schalit deal.

Prisoners arrive in Syria 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Prisoners arrive in Syria 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
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.
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 Schalit.
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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 others.
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 Americans.
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.
So far, though, nothing has happened, said Bauer, who blames this partly on US reluctance to upset its delicate relationship with the Palestinian Authority.
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 deal.
“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.
Bauer 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.”