A senior Fatah official received a court summons and compensation lawsuit for $250 million upon landing at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York over his alleged involvement in the killing of an American-Palestinian citizen in 1995.
Jibril Rajoub, who today serves as head of the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestinian Olympic Committee, served as head of the Palestinian Preventive Security force, the Palestinian Authority’s secret police, in 1995 when Azam Rahim, an American-Palestinian citizen, was killed at a security installation belonging to the PA.
Rahim’s family, who live in the state of Texas, served the court summons on Tuesday. According to the charge sheet, on September 29, 1995 Rahim was arrested by Preventive Security officials and taken to a security facility where he was tortured to death.
The lawyers representing the family are Robert Tulchin in New York and Nitzana Darshan Leitner in Israel.
According to the Hebrew-language Ynet news website, Rajoub is not expected to be interrogated or arrested by US authorities at this time. The paper did not report why Rajoub was not arrested by US authorities.
According to the lawsuit, when Rajoub was serving as head of Preventive Security, he was central to the arrest and consequent torture and murder of Rahim.
The victim’s family allege that the arrest took place while Rahim was on a visit to his place of birth, the village of Ein Yabroud near Ramallah in the West Bank.
While Rahim was sitting with friends at a café and playing cards, a plainclothes officer from Preventive Security entered the premises and arrested him without giving a reason. Rahim was then taken to a prison in Jericho.
According to Ynet, the family did not succeed in securing his release. Two days later, an ambulance brought Rahim’s body back to Ein Yabroud, wearing only his trousers but missing the rest of his clothes.
The driver of the ambulance told the family that Rahim died of a heart attack in a hospital in Jericho and should be buried without delay.
But the family inquired at the hospital and were told that Rahim arrived at the medical facility already dead.
An autopsy showed that Rahim sustained blows to his head and face. When his body was brought back to his home village, some of his teeth were broken, and he had a torn lip and multiple cigarette burns on his back and legs.
The report also said that some of his ribs were broken and his heart had not been injured, contradicting the claim presented by the ambulance driver and Preventive Security forces.
The family initially served its lawsuit 11 years ago, but the case was dropped since Rajoub was not in the US at the time. An American law against the use of torture can only be applied against individuals who are on US soil at the time of the lawsuit.
The family believes the reason for Rahim’s torture was a mistaken belief that he was a rich American whose family could be shaken down for ransom to secure his release.
Rajoub’s visit to the US this week is his first ever. The family decided to serve him the court summons immediately upon his arrival. According to Ynet, a US State marshal delivered the indictment at JFK airport.
Darshan Leitner, a lawyer specializing in terrorism-related lawsuits, stated,
Rajoub, as head of Preventive Security, filled a central role in the torture and cruel murder of American citizen Azam Rahim in 1995. The State Department recognized Rahim as a victim of torture by the Palestinian Authority and explicitly demanded that then-head of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat apologize to the family and investigate the incident. This is the first time Rajoub was allowed entry to the US and we were determined not to let him get away with this. We will act on the financial level and have Rajoub pay the family compensation, but the US Department of Justice should investigate this case and take criminal measures against Rajoub.