Senior Fatah official and head of the Palestine Olympic Committee Jibril Rajoub landed in the US Wednesday only to receive a cause of action letter seeking $250 million in damages for involvement in the 1995 torture and murder of Azzam Rahim, an American-Palestinian citizen in a Palestinian security facility.
In addition to receiving the cause of action, Rajoub also received a summons to appear in court.
However, Rajoub is not expected to be arrested or interrogated by US authorities.
Rahim’s family, who reside in Texas, filed the lawsuit against Rajoub, who at the time, worked as head of the Preventive Security Force (PSF) in the West Bank.
The family is represented by attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv, and Robert Tolchen of New York.
The cause of action letter states that on September 29, 1995, Rahim was arrested
by PSF agents and tortured to death in a facility run by the organization.
Suit against Rajoub
Rahim’s family testified that Azzam visited the village of Ein Yabrud near Ramallah in 1995. While sitting and playing cards in a cafe, PSF officers entered civilian clothes and arrested him without explanation.
From there he was taken to Jericho prison where his family’s efforts to release him were unsuccessful.
Two days later, an ambulance arrived at the village of Ein Yabrud with Rahim’s body, which his was covered only with a pair of pants.
The ambulance driver told the family that Azzam died of a heart attack at a hospital in Jericho and that he should be buried posthaste. However, when the family contacted the hospital, staff told them Azzam arrived lifeless.
According to the prosecution, as head of preventive security, Rajoub played a central role in the detention, torture and killing of Rahim.
Moreover, an autopsy on the body revealed bruises on the body, face, broken teeth, a torn lip, broken ribs and cigarette burns on his back and legs. There was no damage to his heart, contrary to claims by Palestinian security officials.
The lawsuit was originally filed 11 years ago but was retracted because Rajoub was not present in the United States at the time. Wednesday was the first time Rajoub visited the United States and the family’s lawyers took advantage of the opportunity when he entered the country.
According to family lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner “Rajoub, as head of Preventive Security, played a central role in the torture and brutal murder of American citizen Azzam Rahim in 1995. The State Department recognized Rahim as a victim of torture in the Palestinian Authority and demanded that Yasser Arafat apologize to the family and investigate the incident.
“This is the first time that Rajoub was allowed to enter the United States, and we are determined not to allow him to escape this time. We will bring him to pay compensation to the family, but the US Justice Department must investigate the case and also take the criminal steps against Rajoub.”