TEL AVIV – A landmark U.S. appeals court verdict found that Iran must pay almost $9.4 million to victims of a 1997 triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Ninth Circuit Appellate Court found for the victims on Friday. Led by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Israeli legal NGO Shurat Hadin and U.S. counsel David Strachman, the case has been ongoing for 15 years.
In 2001, Shurat Hadin begin legal proceedings against Iran due to its sponsorship of Hamas, which claimed credit for the September 4, 1997 attack. The NGO worked on behalf of the American families of those wounded in the bombings, which occurred when three terrorists blew themselves up in downtown Jerusalem, killing five Israelis – including three 14-year-old girls – and wounding dozens more.
In 2013, a lower federal court handed down a $9.4 million judgment in favor of the families. Iran subsequently appealed to the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the Peterson case, in which 1,000 American victims – many of whom are also represented by Shurat Hadin – of Iran-associated terrorism will receive close to $2 billion in damages. The case’s lead plaintiff is Deborah Peterson, whose brother was killed in the 1983 Beirut barrack bombings.
“This is a historic court ruling against Iran. While governments around the world, including the Obama administration, are falling over themselves trying to throw money at the outlaw regime in Tehran, these families of the victims are still fighting to bankrupt this state sponsor of terrorism,” Darshan-Leitner said.
“The Islamic Republic needs to understand that these court judgments have not been canceled, and that the terrorism victims will continue to pursue them in legal forums all over the world. They don’t forgive and they aren’t going to forget either,” she continued.
Iran attempted to claim sovereign immunity, but Shurat Hadin circumvented that defense due to recent legislation by Congress that dismisses any claim of sovereign immunity in cases involving international terrorism.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Iranian money earmarked for the victims originally resulted from a judgment in favor of the Islamic Republic against Cubic Defense Systems, a U.S. company that had contracts with pre-revolutionary Iran to sell air combat maneuvering range systems.
With the advent of the 1979 revolution, Iran and the U.S. cut ties with only $12 million having been paid to Tehran until then.
The recent judgement is also viewed as a success for opponents of the U.S.-Iran rapprochement following the nuclear deal.