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September 10, 2014– From an office in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is combating terrorism. As founder and director of the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, she is using the U.S. legal system to find justice for victims of violent Islamic extremism, representing American families because the U.S. Department of Justice won’t do its job.
Over two weeks have passed since Hamas West Bank commander, Saleh al-Arouri bragged to attendees at an Islamic cleric’s conference in Turkey that Hamas’ Qassam Brigades had carried out the June kidnapping and murder of American citizen Naftali Fraenkel and Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar.
Al-Arouri’s confession was caught on video. As the leader of the terror group’s activities in the West Bank where the kidnapping and slaughter took place, he is responsible for this act of barbarism. So why hasn’t Attorney General Eric Holder begun the extradition process to bring al-Arouri back to the U.S. from Turkey?
I don’t have that answer and I have called and emailed his office to find out. So far only silence.
Darshan-Leitner is not remaining silent – using the law and treaties between nations to seek justice that so far our government has shown no interest in pursuing.
Darshan-Leitner, with assistance from American attorney Robert J. Tolchin, has sent a letter to AG Holder and Assistant AG Leslie Caldwell, asking them to “take all necessary steps to compel the government of Turkey to extradite,” expressing confidence that “an investigation into the evidence of the kidnapping and murder of Fraenkel will result in [al-Arouri] indictment and extradition.”
She reminds Holder and Caldwell that pursuant to the Treaty of Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between both the U.S. and Turkey, the Islamic Republic is obligated to extradite al-Arouri.
As an American I am grateful that Shurat HaDin is advocating on behalf of my fellow citizens. But I am also disturbed that my government is not actively seeking justice for the victims and families of terrorism.
“The DOJ is yet to convict even one Palestinian terrorist for attacks on US citizens abroad despite ample evidence of terrorist groups and individual terrorists clear involvement. Therefore we are not waiting to see if the FBI and DOJ decide to act against al-Arouri on their own,” Darshan-Leitner explained.
Unlike the Obama administration which has been touting an imaginary new era of cooperation with the government of Iran, Shurat HaDin is going after arguably the world’s biggest financier of terrorism – employing 21st century means to hold Tehran accountable to victims of their state-sponsored brutality.
This past June Shurat HaDin filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court on behalf of American victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, in an effort to gain control of Internet licenses and domain names belonging to the government of Iran. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which administers the World Wide Web.
“We want to seize the license – Internet that belongs to Iran and seize the domain names that end with the suffix ‘IR,’ ” said Darshan-Leitner. “The ultimate goal is to own a very essential asset [for which] Iran would need to pay money in order to get it back. Make Iran satisfy the judgment for the victims they owe money to.”
Iran currently owes over $1 billion in unpaid judgments from civil lawsuits won by American victims of terrorism for their decades of funding groups such as a Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Yet it’s the work of an Israeli lawyer, not the office of AG Holder, seeking fulfillment of the court ordered compensation.
Fearing this legal strategy contravenes their doctrine of let’s play nice with our enemies, the administration is probably not happy that Shurat HaDin has the Arab Bank in a Brooklyn courthouse right now, charging that the Jordanian-based institution financed Hamas’ terror activities that injured and killed American citizens in Israel.
Utilizing the Anti-Terrorism Act, which states that U.S. citizens or their estate can claim damages in federal court for injuries caused by terrorism anywhere outside of the United States, Shurat HaDin is pursuing justice the DOJ refuses to pursue, representing American families affected by terrorist attacks.
“It often appears that the Obama administration puts what it would label as diplomatic concerns ahead of judicial ones,” said Darshan-Leitner.
The primary role of government is to protect its citizens. When harm comes to them, justice is generally not served with more bloodshed, but by applying the law.
But ignoring the law is a reoccurring theme wit this administration. So why should seeking justice for victims of terrorism be any different? At least when the Obama administration won’t seek justice for Americans, the Israelis will.
Miller is a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new-media and political consulting firm. Follow him @pauliespoint.