Terror victims protest Ahmadinejad’s NY visit

Advocacy groups pressure owners, management of Warwick Hotel where Iranian president will stay during UN General Assembly.

Ahmadinejad at the UN 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ahmadinejad at the UN 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Days before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to attend a UN General Assembly meeting in New York, terror victims and advocacy groups have stepped up attempts to hinder his visit to the city by pressuring the owners and management of the hotel at which he is due to stay.
Stuart Hersh, an American citizen severely wounded in a Jerusalem suicide bombing perpetrated by Hamas – widely viewed as a proxy of Iran – served a lawsuit in Manhattan’s Federal Court last week against the luxurious Warwick Hotel.
The hotel also hosted Ahmadinejad and the Iranian delegation during the General Assembly meeting in 2011.
The move came after another federal court found Iran liable last year for the September 4, 1997, attack – in which three Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up on Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda Street, killing five people – because the Islamic Republic had provided material support and resources to the Gaza-based terror group.
The court ordered Tehran to pay Hersh damages of $12 million plus interest. To date, Iran has not paid or responded to the judgement. The lawsuit against the Warwick asks that the judges rule to seize any monies paid by Iran for the delegation’s hotel accommodations.
The Israel-based civil rights group Shurat Hadin, which filed both lawsuits, slammed the Warwick for agreeing to host Ahmadinejad, calling the decision an “unconscionable pursuit of profit.”
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Hersh still endures severe physical and emotional wounds he suffered in the Iran-funded attack, Shurat Hadin’s founder, attorney Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, said. According to the lawsuit, the bomb that wounded him was packed with nails, screws, glass fragments and chemicals to cause maximum death and suffering.
“It is insult enough that Ahmadinejad will receive US security personnel during his stay in Manhattan, subsidized by American tax dollars,” Darshan- Leitner said. “But that outrage is eclipsed by the idea that this craven outlaw will reside in the lap of luxury at a five-star hotel while his victims still suffer from his underwriting of violent, illegal acts. Give him a cot at the UN, or perhaps the other murderers at the Libyan Mission will give him a bed.”
In a separate and unrelated campaign, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a New York-based bipartisan advocacy group that has pushed for economic sanctions against Iran, is also calling on the Warwick to reconsider hosting Ahmadinejad.
In a recent letter to the hotel’s general manager, Paul G. LeBlanc, UANI CEO Mark D. Wallace noted that during his trip to New York last year, Ahmadinejad had given a speech denying the Holocaust and claiming the US had orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
UANI spokesman Nathan Carleton told The Jerusalem Post that the group would continue its campaign.
“We will be protesting outside the Warwick during the week he is in New York,” Carleton said. “We are planning demonstrations and other activities.”
Pressure groups say that several of Manhattan’s most elite hotels refused Ahmadinejad accommodations because Iran had been designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the US State Department and was liable for damages stemming from numerous attacks against US citizens.
Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars News, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards, reported earlier this week that Ahmadinejad would likely leave Tehran on September 21 for what will be his seventh visit to New York since taking office in 2005. The visit will be his last as president, since he will step down within the next 10 months as his second term comes to a close.
The visit also comes after Iran took presidency of the Non- Aligned Movement last month.