Top Fatah Official Hit With Lawsuit Upon Landing in New York Over Alleged Role in 1995 Torture, Murder of Palestinian-American Man in West Bank
Top Fatah official Jibril Rajoub received a $250 million lawsuit and a court summons when he landed at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City this week, the Hebrew news site Ynet reported on Wednesday. However, the report noted, it is not expected that Rajoub will be questioned or detained by US authorities.
The suit was filed by family members of Azzam Rahim, a Palestinian-American married father of six who was allegedly tortured and murdered at a Palestinian Authority Preventive Security Force (PSF) facility in the West Bank in 1995. Rajoub was the head of the PSF at the time.
Rahim’s family members, who live in Texas, are being represented by lawyers Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Robert Tulchin.
The suit was originally filed in 2006, but it was dismissed because the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 allows for claims only against individuals present in the US.
“Rajoub, as head of the Preventive Security Force, played a central role in the torture and brutal murder of American citizen Azzam Rahim in 1995,” Darshan-Leitner was quoted as saying. “The State Department recognized Rahim as a victim of torture in the Palestinian Authority and demanded that Yasser Arafat apologize to the family and investigate the incident.”
“This is the first time,” she continued, “that the terrorist leader Rajoub has been allowed into the United States, and we were determined not to allow him to escape this time. We will act in the financial realm and bring him to pay compensation to the family, but the American Justice Department must investigate the case and also take the criminal steps against Rajoub.”
Last week, as reported by The Algemeiner, relatives of five American victims of Palestinian terrorism called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to deny Rajoub entry to the US — a call that went unheeded.
The bereaved family members — including Stuart Force (father of Taylor Force), Ruth Schwartz (mother of Ezra Schwartz), Rina Ariel (mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel), Micha Avni (son of Richard Lakin) and Avraham Fraenkel (father of Naftali Fraenkel) — were joined in their appeal to Tillerson by the Jerusalem-based NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
According to PMW, Rajoub, a former terrorist who spent 15 years in Israeli jails before being released in a 1985 prisoner swap, has a long and ongoing history of virulent anti-Israel rhetoric — including a 2013 threat to nuke the Jewish state — and incitement.
“Prohibiting Jibril Rajoub’s entry to the US would demonstrate that there is no immunity for those who promote and glorify terror,” PMW said. “It is time to hold Jibril Rajoub accountable for his calls for murder.”
Rajoub traveled to New York City to take part in a Wednesday Israel Policy Forum event.