Ruling on Lebanon bombing ups war drive vs. Iran

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat May 31 23:53:10 MDT 2003


The ruling also lays basis for prosecuting resistance to US
occupation, attacks (both of which were taking place in Lebanon at the
time, as violations of US law.
Fred Feldman

Story last updated at 9:32 a.m. Saturday, May 31, 2003

Judge rules Iran behind Marine barracks bombing
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON--A federal judge in Washington ruled Friday that Iran was
behind the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed
241 American servicemen, clearing the way for more than 600 of their
relatives to collect financial damages against the Islamic republic.

In a 30-page decision that resulted from a lawsuit filed by the
families, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote that the terrorist
group Hezbollah carried out the attack at the behest of Iran and its
Ministry of Information and Security.

"The approval of both the Ayatollah Khomeini and President Rafsanjani
was absolutely necessary to carry out the continuing economic
commitment of Iran to Hezbollah, and to execute the Oct. 23 attack,"
the judge wrote. "Given their positions of authority, any act of these
two officials must be deemed an act of the government of Iran."

Steven Perles, an attorney in the case, hailed the decision, saying it
was the first time a judicial ruling had linked Iran to the bombing.

"The fact that Iran has taken on the role as the pre-eminent sponsor
of terrorism, and is the subject of discussion in the White House only
heightens the importance of the decision," Perles said.

In issuing his ruling, the judge said a court appointed master would
consider the financial claims in the case. Ultimately, however, it may
be difficult to collect compensation. The only money paid to victims
of Iranian terrorism to date has come from a fund in the U.S. Treasury
that matches the $400 million remaining in frozen Iranian accounts.

Perles said he hopes to get payouts by locating secret Iranian
investments in the United States he said may exceed $4 billion.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Lynn Smith Derbyshire, 42, of
Northern Virginia, whose oldest brother, Capt. Vincent Smith, was
killed in the bombing, said she was thrilled with the decision.

"When I first heard the news I fell to my knees in tears," she said.
"This is a step toward justice. The Beirut bombing has been brushed
under the rug all these years. Now it's been proven in a court of law
that the government of Iran was responsible for this."

The lawsuit was filed in 2001 on behalf of more than 600 people who
lost family members in the truck bombing of the Marines' 24th
Amphibious Unit. The bombing eventually led to the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Lebanon.

Under the rules of combat, troops have no clear right to sue. But the
judge ruled that the troops were on a peacekeeping mission under
peacetime rules of engagement. Therefore, survivors and family members
could sue Iran under a 1996 law that allows U.S. citizens to take
legal action against nations that sponsor terrorism.





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