Fundamentally Freund: Obama forgives the unforgivable

Fundamentally Freund Fo

This past week marked the sixth anniversary of one of the most brazen anti-American terror attacks to have occurred in the Middle East in the 21st century, yet hardly anyone in Washington seems to have noticed. As a result, this horrific event, which took the lives of three brave Americans, has been all but forgotten, leaving the cause of justice unfulfilled. On October 15, 2003, Palestinian terrorists assaulted an official US diplomatic convoy in Gaza, which was on its way to interview young Palestinian students hoping to study at American universities. As the vehicles bearing diplomatic license plates passed near Beit Hanun, a roadside bomb went off, killing John Branchizio, 37, of Texas; Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey; and John Marin Linde, 30, of Missouri, all of whom were providing security. At the time, Gaza was still under the control of the Palestinian Authority, but virtually nothing was done to hunt down the perpetrators, even though a senior Palestinian intelligence official later admitted that he knew who was behind the attack. And there was little doubt that this was a premeditated act of murder. The visit had been coordinated in advance with Palestinian officials, and the US vehicles were traveling on a road that was closed to Israeli traffic, so this was not a case of "mistaken identity" on the part of the terrorists. Moreover, the device used in the blast was remote-controlled, and it was activated only once the American "targets" were identified and in range. And prior to the attack, the Palestinian media was filled with anti-American incitement which seemed deliberately designed to stir up hatred and even violence against the US. Astonishingly, however, the Bush administration showed little public interest in pursuing a thorough investigation or even pressing the Palestinians to punish the killers. Naturally, the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas was only too happy to oblige by dropping the matter entirely. BUT THIS is a matter that cannot, and must not, be dropped. Branchizio, Parsons and Linde were among more than 50 American citizens who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. Under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, US aid and support continued to flow into Palestinian coffers even though they did not shy away from taking the lives of American citizens nor hesitate to laugh off requests to arrest their killers. By all indications, President Barack Obama seems equally inclined to forgive the unforgivable. On October 15, exactly six years to the day since the Beit Hanun attack, his national security adviser, Gen. James R. Jones, chose to attend a dinner hosted by an outfit called the American Task Force for Palestine. Instead of utilizing the opportunity to issue a clarion call to bring Palestinian killers of Americans to justice, Jones preferred to emphasize just how much his boss wants to reward the Palestinians with a state. "President Obama's dedication to achieve these goals," he declared, "is unshaken, is committed, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of achieving them." With all that energy and determination at his disposal, it's a shame that Obama isn't equally as "relentless" in trying to achieve a modicum of justice for the dozens of American families whose loved ones were taken from them by Palestinian terror. One would think that an issue of this magnitude would cry out for resolution. But political considerations, and a fear of offending Palestinian sensibilities, apparently take precedence in the calculus of the Beltway. Take, for example, the Rewards for Justice Web site run by the US State Department, the goal of which is "to bring international terrorists to justice." Located at, it lists a series of terror attacks against Americans dating back to the early 1980s. Incredibly, in the section devoted to the 2003 attack in Gaza, the site does not identify those who carried out the bombing as Palestinian. Instead, it obliquely refers to them as "those responsible for this attack," as if their identity is something of a mystery. But that, of course, is far from being the case. Last December, during the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, one of the ringleaders of the 2003 attack was reportedly killed by the IDF. His name was Muhammad al-Dusaqi, and he was a leader of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee. Presumably, with just a little bit of simple intelligence work, it would not be too difficult to figure out who his accomplices were, or even to go out on a limb and deduce that they too were Palestinian terrorists. Of course, now that Gaza is under Hamas control, it makes it that much harder to track down the Palestinian killers of Americans located in the area. But that doesn't excuse or justify the lack of effort on Obama's part. Washington has plenty of leverage with the Palestinian leadership, and it is time that some of that influence be brought to bear so that killers of Americans can no longer roam free. It was the American writer H.L. Mencken who once noted that "if you want peace, work for justice." Quite simply, the two must go hand in hand.