A leading senator is petitioning President Barack Obama not to interfere in a legal case that awarded an American victim of Palestinian terrorism some $655 million in damages, according to a copy of a letter sent to the president late Wednesday and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) expressed concern that the Obama administration is gearing up to interfere in the case and petition a U.S. court to lessen the award issued to American victims of terrorism committed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Recent reports disclosed that the administration is set to intervene in the case and side on behalf of the Palestinians. The administration is reportedly concerned that the cash-strapped Palestinian government could suffer as a result of the large financial judgment against it.
Kirk rejected this argument in his letter to Obama and urged the president to unequivocally back the legally binding judgment issued in a U.S. court of law.
"The administration needs to side unequivocally with Shayna Gould and other American victims of terrorism, and take a stand against the sponsors of terrorism in the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority," Kirk said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon.
The case awarded millions of dollars to ten American families who have been victimized by Palestinian terror acts.
Among the plaintiffs were the relatives of Gould, who was shot in the chest by militants during a 2002 terrorist attack in Jerusalem.
A jury in the case found the Palestinian government guilty and legally responsible for this and other terror attacks. It was the first successful civil case prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990 (ATA).
Kirk discloses in the letter that the Justice Department is considering intervening in the case at the behest of the Palestinian government.
"At the urging of the State Department, the Department of Justice is reviewing this case and will make a determination on potential action within days," Kirk writes.
"Congress enacted the ATA to create a civil cause of action for any U.S. citizen injured or killed by an act of international terrorism," Kirk writes. "This law was designed as a civil counterpart to criminal laws prohibiting acts of terrorism."
"The ATA is an important mechanism through which terrorists and state sponsors of terrorism can be held accountable," the letter states. "Political efforts to have our government intervene and unduly influence the courts threatens to undermine verdicts such as the one reached in Sokolow v. PLO."
Kirk warns the Obama administration against trampling on the law in order to placate the Palestinian government.
"I would like to voice my opposition to any such course of action or other government interference with the victims’ legal rights," he writes. "The ATA is an important piece of victims’ rights legislation, and victims who bring forth claims in good faith and win judgments against terrorists should not be thwarted in their efforts."