Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sue the bastards - Vicki and Leonard take on Iran

Man, I loved this story, in yesterday's Jerusalem Post.

What lots of Palestinian and Hamas groupies fail to realize is that these terrorist groups have been responsible for the deaths of lots of Americans...and that Iran has been behind a great deal of it.

10 years ago, Vicki and Leonard Eisenfeld's son Matt, 25, a Yale graduate and rabbinical student, was murdered along with his fiancee Sara Duker in a No. 18 bus on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road by Hamas.

"We had the choice of doing nothing or doing something," says Leonard simply, sitting alongside his wife on the sofa of their home in West Hartford, Connecticut. And that was no choice at all. So they set out to create what Leonard calls "a financial deterrent to terrorism."

Adds Vicki: "We were looking for a civil way" to take on the bombers and their sponsors. "No physical aggression. Using the law the way it is meant to be used."

After a great deal of time and effort the Eisenfeld's struggle against the Hamas death cult and against the Iranian government that trained and financed those behind this and so many other murders appears to be actually getting results...and is a landmark to others seeking redress from these killers.

A key part of this rests with the revelations of Hassan Salameh, the Hamas terrorist in charge of the February 25, 1996, attack. Salameh was captured by the Israelis and is serving 46 life terms in an Israeli jail, and he has since sung like the proverbial canary about every aspect of the bombing and its planning - from the time he joined Hamas, through his terror training, to the logistics of the attack and the recruitment of the bomber.

He's conclusively described Iran's direct role, detailing how he was smuggled out of Gaza into Egypt, to Sudan, and, via an Iranian army plane, into a terrorist training camp outside Teheran and back again with instructions and equipment for the bombing and other murders. In Iran, "We trained in weapons, setting explosives, ambush," Salameh said under questioning. "We had 10 instructors, all Iranian."

"Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing," says Leonard Eisenfeld. But through Salameh, "we were able to demonstrate that he was trained, armed and funded by Iran."

Oddly enough, it turns out that the bomb that killed Matt, Sara and 24 other people on that bus was American-made - containing plastic explosive produced exclusively for the US Department of Defense. It was originally placed into a land mine and given to Egypt as part of US military aid.

Using this information, the Eisenfelds' legal team obtained a judgment in the US courts for both punitive and compensatory damages against the Iranian government.

Collection, of course, was something else.

Along with the Dukers and the Flatow family - Alisa Flatow, a Brandeis student from New Jersey, was murdered in a bus bombing in the Gaza Strip in 1995 - the Eisenfelds received a relatively a small amount of the judgement from sums raised against Iranian assets that have been frozen by the US government. They've used some of that money for charitable contributions and to fund various scholarship programs.

But guess what..our own State Department has fought the legal judgement which now totals around $900 million tooth and nail!

The lawyers for the awardees identified a US real-estate development firm with considerable assets that turned out to be wholly owned by the Iranian government. But the bid to seize its funds was stymied by a State Department contention that the company in question could not be held liable "since it was not managed on a daily basis by the government in Teheran."

And this happened only a few months after President Bush had identified Iran as part of the "axis of evil"!


Apparently there's legislation working its way through Congress now that'll will take the State Department out of the loop and fix this.

While this was ongoing, the attorneys for the victim's families also went overseas to Europe, where the mullahs have between $50 to $80 billion stashed away in various assets.

Believe it or not, the lawyers managed to get the Italian courts to "domesticate" the US court ruling in the case - which means that the Italian courts recognize the judgement as applying in Italy. Assets of Iran in Italy were frozen until the Italian Foreign Ministry intervened, but the toothpaste is out of the tube. According to the Eisenfeld's legal team, the judgment's `domestication' is irreversible, and this is mainly a momentary procedural snafu, until new filings occur and the Iranian assets the plaintiffs want attached are specifically named.

The only way for the Iranians to evade the process, according to the Eisenfeld's lawyer Steven Perles, is for them to empty all the relevant bank accounts. But not just in Italy. "If one EU member domesticates, we ought to be able to enforce it across the EU," he says.

"The Iranians had been arrogant about the whole affair until then," says Perles. "But now they were angry, which is how they should be. We heard that they had trouble paying salaries in some of their investment arms [because of the frozen accounts], and even at their embassy."

What's more, this is only the beginning. There's no shortage of other such potential cases. "Lots of US nationals have been killed by Iranian-backed terror," Perles notes grimly. "Iran is the epicenter of state terror."

In fact, he goes on, "We have a case that's been running for three or four years on behalf of 200 families of US marines killed in the 1983 Beirut bombings. We've had 800 witnesses testify to date. Iran has already lost in the battle over its liability. And we're talking seriously big numbers" in potential damages.

And the Eisenfelds? According to Vickie, their main aim is to "spare other families the kind of anguish that we've been through, of losing our son and his fiancee".

"Hamas says it's not going to quit?" says Vicki. "Well, neither will we. And I don't mean in the financial, legal battle. I mean in the war for our culture, for who we are."

Good for you, Vickie and Leonard. Sue the turbans off the bastards.

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