A federal judge Wednesday found two U.S.-based Islamic charities and an alleged fund-raiser for the Palestinian militant group Hamas liable for damages in the 1996 shooting death of an American teenager in Israel.
A jury trial is set to start Dec. 1 to determine the amount of damages in the $300 million lawsuit filed by the parents of David Boim, 17, who was gunned down while waiting for a bus in the West Bank.
In a 107-page opinion, Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys held Texas-based Holy Land Foundation and another charity, the Islamic Association for Palestine, liable for damages in the shooting for knowingly aiding Hamas.
‘Huge win’ for terror victims
Keys also held Mohammed Salah, a Chicago man currently under indictment in an alleged Hamas fund-raising conspiracy, liable for damages in the May 13, 1996, shooting.
“This is a huge win for victims of terrorism,” said Stephen J. Landes, an attorney for Stanley and Joyce Boim, former New Yorkers now living in Jerusalem, who brought the suit on behalf of their son and his estate.
The Boims maintain that the charities funded Hamas and therefore financed the violence that led to the death of their son.
Landes said the Boim lawsuit was the first to be brought against institutions based in the United States for allegedly supporting terrorism. A previous case in Rhode Island was brought against the Hamas organization itself but not against U.S.-based institutions, he said.
The four defendants denied having anything to do with Hamas. They also argued that there was nothing to show that money they sent to charitable groups on the West Bank was used for anything related to Boim’s death.
Keys ruled, however, that the Boims didn’t need to show that money sent by the defendants directly paid for the shooting. He said the law required only that the groups realized they were aiding Hamas and understood it engaged in violence.
Keys based his ruling not on testimony but on months of court papers filed in the case in what lawyers call “summary judgment.”
The jury that is expected to determine damages in the case also will be asked to decide whether another defendant, the Quaranic Literacy Institute, based in suburban Bridgeview, should be held liable for damages in the Boim shooting, as well.
The Boims claim that because Salah worked at the institute, which translates Islamic texts, it provided him with cover for alleged Hamas fund-raising activities.
An attorney for the institute, John Beal, said the institute was “disappointed and has maintained all along they have absolutely nothing to do with the funding of Hamas.”
“They have an important function as an Islamic organization and they are disappointed that they have to continue to defend this case,” Beal said.
Messages left for attorneys for the other defendants Wednesday were not immediately returned.