The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has found Iran liable for injuries sustained by U.S. citizens during a 2003 bombing attack conducted by Hamas in Israel. The plaintiffs, represented by The Miller Firm, are Ora Cohen, her then-husband Shalom and their five children, who were all injured to some degree during the suicide bombing.
Ora Cohen is an Iranian born U.S. citizen and all of her children are U.S. citizens. Her then-husband Shalom is a foreign national whom she met and married on a visit to Israel. The family visited the Western Wall, a holy site in Old Jerusalem, on Aug. 19, 2003. While riding home on a bus that evening, the family members, including the children who were ages seven, six, four, one and one month, were victims of a suicide bombing. The family was split up during the aftermath for days and suffered multiple injuries, some of which persist to the present day, including loss of hearing and vision, shrapnel damage, anxiety and depression, fear of public transportation and ongoing emotional trauma. Many other passengers on the bus were injured and 23 people were killed.
Raed Misk was the suicide bomber. The terrorist organization, Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya or “the Islamic Resistance Movement”) quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and listed Misk as a martyr. Hamas has been designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. since 1997 and Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. since 1984. In 1998, Iran accepted a Hamas delegation into its government.
Two Middle East experts with over 50 years of combined experience in the field gave declarations on Iran’s ties to Hamas: Dr. Patrick Clawson, the Director for Research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Dr. Matthew Levitt, a Senior Fellow and Director at the same institute.
The experts explained that annual reports from the U.S. Secretary of State to Congress on terrorism named “Country Reports on Terrorism,” or “Patterns of Global Terrorism” repeatedly point out Iran’s sponsorship of Hamas, particularly in the early 2000s, when this attack occurred. For example, The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), described in the Judge’s Memorandum Opinion as an “independent military body under the command of the Supreme Leader,” has run military training camps for Hamas members. Intelligence agencies from numerous countries have also reported that Iran provided millions of dollars of support to Hamas.
The Cohens, along with several of their family members in the U.S., brought the action against Iran and several of its instrumentalities including the IRGC under the state-sponsor-of-terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Because, after repeated attempts to serve the Iranian defendants, they chose not to appear, the Court granted a default judgment against Iran. A special master will determine the amount of damages awarded to the Cohen family members at a later time.
The Miller Firm is now accepting clients who were injured or families who experienced a terrible loss during the attacks September 11, 2011. Please call 1-800-882-2525 and ask to speak to attorneys David Dickens, Timothy Litzenburg, Michael Miller or Nancy Miller. Or, email them at [email protected] or [email protected].