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September 14, 2012 – A U.S. citizen injured in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem is claiming money from the Warwick New York Hotel, which will host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the upcoming annual U.N. assembly, the man's lawyer says.
Stuart Hersh was in a mall when the Hamas terrorist organization carried out the attack. In 2003, a U.S. District Court awarded Hersh $12 million from the Iranian government, ruling it was responsible for supplying and training the suicide bombers. Hersh says he never received money from Iran.
"We want to be entitled to the money of Ahmadinejad and his delegations," Hersh's lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, told CNN. "We believe it belongs to us as a judgment holder."
Hersh has filed a claim against the Warwick hoping to either collect the money that the Iranian government will pay the hotel for the Iranian president's stay, or be granted use of the rooms that Ahmadinejad and his entourage would use.
"If he needs a place to stay, let him sleep in the subways" Hersh told CNN. He also added a restraining order restricting Ahmadinejad and his group from using the hotel rooms until the court reaches a decision, Darshan-Leitner said.
"He owes me $12 million," Hersh said. "He's spending money that should be mine."
The Iranian government will be spending between $10,000 and $15,000 a night on accommodations at the Warwick, which could result in $75,000 to $100,000 for Hersh, Darshan-Leitner said.
Hersh and his wife now live in Israel and say they will not move back to the United States until they feel justice has been served.
Originally from Fresh Meadows in the Queens borough of New York City, Hersh said he cannot afford to travel to his home state but would make the trip if he were awarded the rooms. He said he would "invite other terror victims to join him and max out room service on Iran's credit card."
Hersh says he has withstood a heart attack, a perforated colon, colon cancer and diabetes, all of which he attributes to post traumatic stress disorder resulting from looking the terrorists in the face before they blew themselves up in 1997. At 63, he still suffers chest pains and hearing loss from the attack.
"All I want is the money that's due to us and we don't want the American people to pay for it," Hersh said. "I don't want them paying disability to me, I want the money from Iran."
He holds Ahmadinejad accountable for withholding the money, and the American government accountable for letting him get away without paying it.
"This is not sane," Hersh said. "That a man can come into the U.S. and enjoy American luxury and not have to pay for his crimes."
Since 2003, Hersh has laid claim to Iranian money in lawsuits throughout the United States and Europe, he said. A few years after being awarded the $12 million, Hersh won the rights to a house that the shah of Iran had bought for his son in Lubbock, Texas, and sold the house for around half a million dollars, according to Darshan-Leitner.
Hersh also filed lawsuits in Chicago and Boston, claiming the rights to Iranian artifacts lent to the University of Chicago and Harvard University. Darshan-Leitner said each of those lawsuits is currently before a court of appeal.
The Warwick did not respond to inquiries about the legal papers that Darshan-Leitner said were delivered to the hotel Thursday.