The late David Boim.
The lawsuit has now been judged and the Boims won the case, or at least the first round. Here are extracts reporting on yesterday's decision from the Chicago Tribune's report, "3 Islamic fundraisers held liable in terror death."
In a victory for the parents of a 17-year-old gunned down in a terrorist attack in Israel, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that three Islamic fundraisers, including a Chicago-area man, are legally responsible for his death.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys ruled that the fundraisers are liable for the 1996 slaying of David Boim because they helped finance the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The decision names Muhammad Salah of Bridgeview, the Islamic Association for Palestine, which recently closed its Palos Hills office, and the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
The decision is the first holding U.S. citizens or organizations liable under a 1990 federal law that allows victims of terrorism to sue for civil damages. In a case in Rhode Island, plaintiffs last year won a multimillion-dollar judgment against Hamas, but the group didn't contest the lawsuit. Keys' ruling means the judge has found Salah and the two groups liable for damages. A jury trial starting Dec. 1 will determine if they have to pay the Boims. That jury also will have to determine whether another defendant, the Quranic Literacy Institute of Oak Lawn, is liable and if it should pay. …
the case got a boost in 2002 from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. In a landmark ruling, the appeals court said the groups could be held liable if the Boims could establish that they "aided and abetted" David Boim's killing. On Wednesday, Keys said the Boims didn't have to show that the defendants knew about the attack on David Boim or did anything specifically to aid the attack. Instead, "the Boims need only show that the defendants were involved in an agreement to accomplish an unlawful act and that the attack that killed David Boim was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the conspiracy," according to Keys' opinion. Keys ruled that the Boims presented ample evidence that the three defendants knowingly supported Hamas and its terrorist activities. …
In his determination about Holy Land Foundation, which was one of the country's largest Islamic charities, Keys relied heavily on recent federal court rulings in Washington. Those legal actions arose after Holy Land Foundation unsuccessfully challenged the government decision's to freeze its assets after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Evidence in the Washington court case showed that the Holy Land Foundation provided substantial funding to charities in Israel that were fronts or supporters of Hamas, according to Keys. The judge also said the charity frequently focused on supporting the families of suicide bombers. In July, the government indicted the charity, which has ceased to operate, and several of its officers for conspiring to aid Hamas. …
[Stephen] Landes, the attorney for the Boim family, said he intends to seek damages of about $15 million. The defendant with the most assets is believed to be the Holy Land Foundation, with several million dollars in charitable contributions frozen by the government.
(November 11, 2004)
Dec. 14, 2004 update: I wrote a second article on this topic at "[The Boim Trial:] Exploiting the Koran to Terrorize," focusing on the role of the Quranic Literacy Institute.
Dec. 28, 2007 update: The Boims lost at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The full text of the decision can be found at "Stanley Boim and Joyce Boim v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, et al."
Jan. 29, 2008 update: Aaron Eitan Meyer provides a stinging assessment of the appelate decision at "Legalism over Justice: The Case of the Boim Decision."
June 23, 2008 update: Andrew McCarthy reports that "the Seventh Circuit has reversed itself and granted rehearing en banc (i.e., before all judges of the Seventh Circuit, not just the three judges on the first panel) to consider the question whether a donor who contributes to an organization the donor knows to be a terrorist organization may properly be prosecuted for providing material support to terrorism absent proof that the donor intended to advance the violent component of the organization's activities."
Dec. 3, 2008 update: A federal appeals court upheld the $156 million judgment against the three Palestinian charities for funding terrorism. It also dropped Muhammad Salah from the case, on the grounds that he was in jail when an anti-terrorism charity law was passed.