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October 28, 2013 – With San Antonio so far away from the Middle East, it seems unlikely that it could have an impact on foreign policy toward this troubled region. However, Americans need no reminding of the effects that terrorism, backed by the totalitarian regimes of the Middle East, can have on the lives of American citizens.

Iran, in particular, has become a leading backer of terror. It has industrialized and honed methods of inciting hatred, indoctrinating extremism and training terrorists — all the while supplying the funds and means to carry out attacks against Western targets.

The Iranians use their official Ministry of Intelligence and Security to gather knowledge for attacks, and the official Iranian Revolutionary Guard trains and supplies arms to terrorists. Moreover, they use international financial institutions to transfer funds to support terrorist activities.

In addition, Iran has a proud son known as Hezbollah. As part of its efforts to export Iran’s particular strain of extremist Shia Islam, the Iranian regime has supported Hezbollah for more than three decades. It has been directly linked to attacks such as the blowing up of a vehicle in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 58 Americans and Lebanese. Also that year, Hezbollah bombed the Beirut barracks of U.S. and French peacekeepers, killing 241 Americans and 58 French.

Then in 1985, Hezbollah hijacked TWA flight 847 and held 39 Americans hostage for weeks, murdering one U.S. sailor. In addition, Iran supported Hezbollah in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy, killing 29, in 1992 and in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina, killing 95, in 1994.

However, while diplomatic powers attempt to find a path toward a peaceful solution, what remains crucial is that justice is done for those who have already been killed and maimed.

We have written expressly to Wendy Sherman, the U.S. undersecretary for political affairs, to voice our concern that any negotiations with Iran does not remove its responsibility for paying proper compensation to the victims of Iranian-backed terror attacks.

Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is a nongovernmental organization that brings together a network of lawyers from across the world to chase down the mechanisms used by Iran and other state sponsors of terror to fund, support and facilitate their terrorist activities.

In the United States, this has resulted in the awarding of more than $1 billion by U.S. courts to the families and victims of terror, with billions more to be claimed.

We understand that battles are fought by the military and diplomacy is conducted by officials and diplomats. But by ensuring the justice systems of democratic countries hold states such as Iran and those who support them to account, we can also pursue justice for the victims of terror.

There is no bringing back a loved one. There is no real recovery from the damage and destruction caused by the atrocities of terrorists and their supporters. But we must all stand strong and remind our political leaders of the importance of justice for the victims of terror. After all, democracy’s best defense against tyranny has always been the rule of law.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is director of the Israel Law Center.