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Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center on Wednesday hit controversial former NBA star Dennis Rodman with a subpoena to be deposed about his financial dealings with North Korea following a recent trip he made there related to filming a basketball TV series in conjunction with HBO.
Rodman recently caused a stir with his North Korea visit, particularly when he met with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un and publicly complimented him.
His visit was doubly controversial as it came shortly after North Korea angered the international community with its third nuclear weapons test, and the country has been treated coldly by the Obama administration.
Shurat HaDin won in 2010 an historic $378 million judgment against North Korea for its involvement in the 1972 Lod Airport massacre, but has been unable to collect on the judgment to date.
Deposing Rodman about what he may have learned about North Korea’s finances during his trip and through his contacts, the law center hopes will help lead to better targeting of North Korean assets.
Shurat HaDin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said that despite “the spirit of humor surrounding the [TV] series and Rodman himself, Rodman’s actions in North Korea are not a trivial matter.”
“There is no question that in order to get to a point where a person meets personally with senior government officials and for sure with the president, there is a need for information, for contacts and for processes with the dictatorial North Korean regime,” Darshan- Leitner noted.
“Rodman’s complimentary statements to the ruler after his visit already go beyond mere silliness or a TV series on basketball,” she added.
The $378m. judgment was handed down by the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in favor of Puerto Rican American family members of the victims of the massacre who were on a visit to Israel to view Christian holy sites.
The Lod Airport Massacre was an infamous terrorist attack which killed 26 people perpetrated by Japanese Red Army members, who were enlisted by the Population Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and financed by North Korea.
After passing through border control, three inconspicuous Japanese passengers dressed in business suits disembarked from Air France Flight 132 from Rome and moved to claim their belongings from the baggage carousel.
They had placed grenades and machine guns in their bags, at a time when only carry-on luggage was screened for weapons.
Dozens of civilians were caught in the death trap, including Air France passengers, other arriving parties, airport employees and even bystanders waiting behind the glass wall for their returning family members.
Among the Israelis killed was renowned scientist Aharon Katzir, whose brother, Ephraim Katzir, became president a few years later.
Two of the three Japanese terrorists did not survive the attack, while the lone surviving gunman, Kozo Okomato, was injured, arrested by security forces and given a life sentence.
He was later freed in the 1985 prisoner swap known as the Gibril Deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to Shurat HaDin, Pyongyang provided training and funding for the Japanese Red Army, including sending advisers to train them at terrorist bases in Lebanon, flying JRA and PFLP members to North Korea and giving PFLP founder George Habash a state welcome.
As a result of North Korea’s involvement, a civil damages case was filed in 2008, eventually leading to the historic judgment rendered against it.