Saturday, December 29, 2007

Court Overturns Award in HLF Terror Case

The Islamists must be dancing with joy.

U.S. court overturns $156 million award in terror case
A Federal Appeals Court has overturned a $156 million judgment that had been awarded to the family of an American-born student killed in a 1996 attack in the West Bank.

On Friday, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a December 2004 ruling that found three U.S.-based Islamic charities and an individual, whom the plaintiffs charged had ties to Hamas, had played a role in the boy's death because they had raised money for Hamas.

Israel, the European Union and the United States regard the Palestinian militant group Hamas as a terrorist group. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to provide funding for terrorist organizations.

The suit was filed by Stanley and Joyce Boim, whose 17-year-old son David was shot and killed by gunmen while standing at a bus stop near Beit El in the West Bank.

The Boims sued Muhammad Salah, a businessman from the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, the American Muslim Society (AMS) and the Texas-based Islamic charity Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLS).

At the conclusion of the trial in 2004, the jury concluded the Quranic Literacy Institute of the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn was also liable.

The case was brought under a 1992 U.S. law that permits victims of terrorism to seek civil damages against groups deemed responsible for such acts.

A jury in that trial awarded $52 million in damages against the organizations and Salah. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys tripled the amount to $156 million under the 1992 law.

In Friday's ruling, the court found lawyers representing the Boim family had failed to produce clear evidence the activities of the defendants directly contributed to the fatal attack on David Boim and as a result, caused his death.

The case will be sent back to U.S. District Court for further proceedings, where "the Boims will have to demonstrate an adequate causal link between the death of David Boims and the actions of HLF, Saleh and AMS," according to a ruling written for the court by appelate Judge Ilana Rovner.

The decision is the latest setback for U.S. government efforts to implicate U.S. Muslim charities in funding Islamic terrorism.

A Texas U.S. District Court judge in October declared a mistrial on most of the counts against the Holy Land Foundation and several men linked to it who were accused of funneling over $12 million to Hamas.

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