Special to WorldTribune.com
A U.S. appeals court has paved the way for the families of 10 victims of Iranian terrorism to collect $9.4 million in Iranian funds.
The Feb. 26 opinion by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirms a ruling two years ago in the lower district court in San Diego.
“This is the first real opportunity we really feel we are actually going to collect something and force Iran to pay back some kind of compensation,” said Daniel Miller, who was injured by shrapnel from an Iran-backed Hamas bombing in Jerusalem in 1997. “They shouldn’t go unpunished.”
The Jerusalem bombing at a pedestrian mall killed five bystanders, including three 14-year-old girls shopping for school supplies, and wounded several others.
David Strachman, a Rhode Island-based attorney who tried the Jerusalem case alongside the Israel Law Center, said that “Iran fiercely fought this. They tried to thwart the victims at every attempt.”
Iran has said it may appeal to the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Also set to collect is the family of former Iranian Prime Minister Dr. Shapoir Bakhtiar, an exiled politician and opponent of Iran’s Islamic regime who was murdered in 1992 when Iranian agents snuck into his Paris home.
Iran won’t directly make the $9.4 million payment as the money will come from San Diego-based defense contractor Cubic, which owed it to Iran after a 1977 business deal went bad after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Cubic was to sell Iran an air combat maneuvering range system for $17 million, plus a separate contract for Cubic to maintain the system. Iran had paid $12 million of the purchase price and some of the service contract. In 1982, Cubic sold the system to Canada, ignoring Iran’s call for reimbursement.
In 1998, Cubic placed the funds with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — $9.4 million in all — which became a frozen asset under U.S. law.
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 may it possible for blocked assets of a country to be made available for judgments in terrorism incidents.
Miller, meanwhile, still suffers from nerve and tendon damage from the 1997 terrorist attack.
“One of my biggest challenges after the attack was what do I do to counter this evil? I had no way to really go after the people responsible.
“I know in my heart you can’t fight the war on terrorism just militarily. … You have to fight terrorism on every front — technologically, militarily and financially,” he said. “If you go after the money and show them their money is not safe, maybe they will hesitate next time and maybe save a life.”