Appeals Court Next Stop As Jury Awards $156 Million In
December 9, 2004
By Mike Robinson
Associated Press Writer
Three Islamic groups and an alleged fund-raiser for the Palestinian
militant group Hamas are expected to appeal the $156 million in damages
they are being ordered to pay in the death of an American teenager at
hands of Hamas gunmen.
A federal court jury set $52 million in damages Wednesday after one day
deliberation in the civil suit brought by the parents of 17-year-old
Boim and U.S. Magistrate Arlander Keys tripled the amount in accord
U.S. anti-terrorism law.
It was a fresh blow to a group of Islamic charities and others who have
seen their assets frozen and in some cases found themselves under
indictment for allegedly funding terrorist groups as part of the
11 war on terrorism.
The Boim case was also the first in which jurors awarded damages from
U.S.-based charities accused of bankrolling Hamas, according to Boim
attorney Nathan Lewin.
Joyce and Stanley Boim, who moved their family from New York to
in 1985 for religious reasons and have long fought the case through the
courts, were elated.
"I finally have justice for David," Joyce Boim told reporters. "He's up
there, smiling down."
Asked what she would tell her son, she said, "We did it, David. I pinch
your round face."
The jury assessed damages against the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation
Relief and Development, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the
Literacy Institute of suburban Oak Lawn and Mohammed Salah of suburban
Both sides said a hard-fought appeal battle was guaranteed.
Amer Haleem, secretary of Quranic Literacy Institute which translates
Islamic texts, left the courthouse saying the case was part of a wave
He promised there would be "a vigorous appeal."
"It may wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court," said Boim attorney Stephen
U.S. law allows victims of overseas terrorist groups to sue American
organizations that finance them. The Boims maintain Islamic charities
been raising money for guns and explosives in this country while using
charity as a cover.
Boim attorneys said they hoped the verdict and other cases being filed
under the same law would help to choke off the flow of money to
groups in the Mideast.
The government already had frozen the assets of Holy Land, Quranic
Salah and Holy Land are both currently under federal indictment on
of stemming from their alleged support of Hamas.
There is little likelihood that the Boims will collect anything like
Not only are the assets of three defendants frozen by the government
federal prosecutors are asking the court in Texas to order Holy Land to
forfeit its assets.
"If there's any money there, we'll get it," Landes said.
Chicago Muslims raised the possibility that the verdict could have a
negative effect on contributions to legitimate Islamic charities.
"People are hesitating to give to the needy and the poor, which is a
fundamental issue in the Islamic religion," said Yaser Tabbara,
director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic
Lawyers for Holy Land, Islamic Association for Palestine and Salah
boycotted the trial. Veteran Chicago defense attorney John Beal,
representing Quranic Literacy, was ordered to be on hand but declined
address the jury or cross-examine witnesses.
He maintained that Keys didn't give his group enough time to mount a
Holy Land attorney James Fennerty and Salah attorney Matthew Piers did
immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on the verdict
Salah has long been accused by the federal government of being a Hamas
fund-raiser. He has said he is not a Hamas member, although he took the
Amendment when asked that question under oath in a deposition taken by
lawyers for the Boim family.
A former FBI terrorism analyst who testified in the weeklong trial,
Levitt, pointed to documents allegedly showing high-ranking Hamas
Mousa Abu Marzook had funneled $985,000 to Salah just before he left
Israel in January 1993 at a time when Hamas had been crippled by the
deportation of 400 activists to Lebanon.
Salah was arrested that month, pleaded guilty to bankrolling Hamas and
spent five years in an Israeli prison. Levitt also testified that
show in the early 1990s Saudi financier Yasin al-Kadi furnished a
salary to Salah and two Quranic Literacy officials.
Al-Kadi, whose name has appeared on government terrorism lists, also
furnished hundreds of thousands of dollars to Quranic Literacy through
real estate developer, Levitt testified.