The latest setback for terrorist finances is a $218.5 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization for their role in injuring ten American families, a judgment tripled to a whopping $655 million under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
As one of the victorious lawyers in a civil suit against the Palestinian Authority and PLO observed, “Money is oxygen for terrorism. Take away their money by making them pay their fair share of what they did.” He spoke in praise of the Anti-Terrorism Act, a pre-9/11 law which gives American victims of international terrorism to sue for hefty civil damages in U.S. courts.
As described by the New York Times, the trial held before Federal District Court in Manhattan was devastating to the PA and PLO. The court granted the plaintiffs– ten families and the estates of four people killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks in public– the sum because they found that “many of those involved in the planning and carrying out of the attacks had been employees of the Palestinian Authority, and that the authority had paid salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and made martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers.”
One of the plaintiffs described being informed of his daughter’s death in the bombing of a cafeteria via television:
It was a terrible thing to see… They brought a body bag out on the TV station, right on it, and went right down to where she was laying and I knew it was a girl, had blond hair. I said, “Oh, my goodness, that’s Janis.”
CBS News related a statement from the plaintiffs’ lawyers:
We are truly grateful that an American court has heard the evidence against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and determined that suicide terrorism was indeed their official policy during the Second Intifada. This historic verdict against the defendants will not bring back these families’ loved ones nor heal the physical and psychological wounds inflicted upon them but it truly is an important measure of justice and closure for them after their long years of tragic suffering and pain.
The defense strategy involved years of arguing that American courts had no jurisdiction over the case, followed by the bizarre argument that the PA and PLO could not be held liable for causing the attacks merely because they kept some of the attackers on the payroll after the bombs went off. Judging from CBS’ account of the trial, the plaintiffs made short work of that argument by noting that Yasser Arafat himself approved “martyrdom payments” to encourage suicide attacks. The Palestinians have long been accustomed to getting away with blood-curdling, murderous rhetoric to their own population, covered by more humanitarian language to Western governments and media sycophants, a double game that caught up to them in this high-stakes court battle.
This might just be the beginning of the Palestinians’ money problems, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
Monday’s verdict comes a few months after a federal jury in Brooklyn found Arab Bank PLC liable for supporting terrorist acts in and around Israel, the first time a bank was held liable in a civil lawsuit under the antiterrorism statute. The recent verdicts could pave the way for more lawsuits against organizations, including global banks, that allegedly facilitate or fund terrorist acts.
It is long past time to inflict this kind of damage on the financial infrastructure of terrorism. In the end, it is a business, and it can be bankrupted.