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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Victims of Hamas attacks sue U.S. oil firms

WASHINGTON — U.S. attorneys, acting for victims of Hamas attacks, have filed a suit in federal district court in Washington D.C. against two Texas-based oil companies.

El Paso Energy Corporation and Bayoil Inc. were accused of financing Hamas and related groups in what has resulted in attacks on civilians.

"The victims allege that defendants knowingly funded the 21 terrorist attacks in Israel and aided and abetted the financing of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, extrajudicial killing and terrorism by conspiring with known terrorists and clandestinely transferring tens of millions of dollars to terrorists, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Arab Liberation Front in violation of U.S. and international laws," a statement by the attorneys for the plaintiffs said.

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The suit, filed on Dec. 30, was said to represent nearly 200 Israelis and Americans, victims of Hamas and other attacks in the Middle East. The suit also named Oscar Wyatt and David Chalmers, principal shareholders of El Paso Energy and Bayoil.

Attorneys Gavriel Mairone and Michael Miller said they gathered evidence that El Paso Energy and Bayoil paid the families of Hamas and other suicide bombers. They said the payment was channeled through numerous fronts in tax havens.

"In a simple way, those profiting or financing terrorism should at least pay the victims monetary compensation for the damages caused by the terrorists," Mairone and Michael Miller said in a statement.

The two attorneys have filed a series of suits on behalf of victims of insurgency attacks against Americans and Israelis. In August 2008, Mairone and Miller filed a $30 billion suit against Sudan, Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on behalf of 221 victims "for providing financing and material assistance to Al Qaida in connection with the bombing of the United States Embassies in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998."

Mairone has also been involved in a multi-billion-dollar suit in U.S. federal court against a major international bank. The bank was sued by more than 1,500 victims of attacks attributed to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades and the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

"It is our goal to help these victims, and force the cruel financiers of international terrorism to be accountable for the murder, maiming and destruction of so many families and innocent children, women and men," Mairone said.

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