This page is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
February 14, 2011 – TERRORISTS are not noted for their respect for law, but an Israeli lawyer says she has seriously dented their operations by suing them in Western courts and seizing their assets.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner says her Israel Law Centre has collected $120 million for victims of terrorism, put liens on $600 million more, and won judgments for more than $1 billion against such groups as Hamas, Hezbollah, the governments of Iran and North Korea and banks that service terrorists.
”We go after the funds of terrorist groups, taking away their oxygen. If you stop the flow of money you can stop the flow of terrorism,” Ms Darshan-Leitner said yesterday.
”The money directed to terrorism in Gaza, for example, has been cut by 60 per cent, Israeli intelligence has told us.”
The groups ignored her at first, but as they saw their US assets seized and restraining orders made against their transactions, they have begun to fight the cases in court. ”This makes them accountable and is a great victory in our eyes,” she said.
Ms Darshan-Leitner, who will give the Hans and Gini Bachrach Oration in Melbourne tonight, modelled her non-profit legal centre on the Southern Poverty Law Centre in Alabama, which crippled white supremacist groups in the US.
Ms Darshan-Leitner – a mother of six, including triplets – has about 100 cases active at the moment. She recently won a $378 million judgment against the government of North Korea for funding and supporting the terrorists who killed 26 people at Israel’s Lod airport in 1972.
A vital case, she said, was against the Arab Bank in a case begun in New York in 2004. The bank was paying rewards of up to $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers, and she sued them on behalf of Israeli victims, seeking $500 million in compensation.
”The bank wanted to close its branch in New York, but Congress refused them, and the court froze $450 million. The case is still going, but I’m sure the families will be compensated because there is a paper trail showing the Arab Bank gave money knowingly and intentionally.
”Right after we filed the case the banks stopped transferring money to designated terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
”Terrorist attacks don’t come from thin air. Missiles are quite cheap, but to get the manpower and maintain loyalty for years you have to pay a monthly salary and provide families with food, education and medical services. A terrorist organisation is like a business – if they don’t have the money to run their operations, they will collapse.”