in the courts

Illinois appellate court to hear arguments on Hamas terror funding

A judge first ruled in favor of the family of terror victim David Boim in 2004

M. Spencer Green/AP

Joyce and Stanley Boim get into a cab outside federal court in Chicago in this Dec. 8, 2004, file photo, after three Islamic charities and an alleged fund-raiser for the Palestinian militant group Hamas were ordered to pay $156 million to the parents, whose 17-year-old son, David, was shot and killed by terrorists on Israel's West Bank in 1996.

Twenty-five years after American yeshiva student David Boim was killed in a terrorist attack at a West Bank bus stop in 1996, oral arguments are set to begin Thursday in an appeal over whether the teenager’s family can collect a monetary judgment ordered by a court in 2004. The family is looking to collect from groups linked to now-defunct organizations accused of providing material support to Hamas, the terrorist organization responsible for Boim’s murder.

The Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals is hearing an appeal in Boim v. American Muslims for Palestine, in which Stanley Boim, David’s father, alleges that the organization, founded by University of California professor Hatem Bazian in 2006, has direct ties to the now-shuttered organizations that sent tens of millions of dollars to Hamas, which was determined to have carried out the attack that killed Boim.

In 2004, the Boim family was awarded a $156 million judgment against the Holy Land Foundation, the American Muslim Society (AMS) and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) for having provided material support to the terror group. That judgment was the first instance in which the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA) of 1990, which gave victims of terror legal recourse in U.S. courts, was applied in the U.S. court system.

The Holy Land Foundation, which had been based in Richardson, Texas, was designated by the Treasury Department as a terrorist organization in 2001. The Islamic Association for Palestine was shuttered in 2004. Mid-level staffers from the organizations have gone on to work for other groups, including American Muslims for Palestine and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Boim’s parents are now attempting to collect on the 2004 judgment, alleging that AMP is an offshoot of IAP/AMS and the Holy Land Foundation, which folded in 2001.

An amicus brief filed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago argues that the “alter ego doctrine,” which has previously been applied in corporate cases in which businesses close and reopen under new names but with a similar revenue stream and staff, can be applied to the ATA.

Court documents reveal several new examples of collaboration between staffers from IAP and the then-nascent AMP, including a 700-person conference hosted by the latter group three months after its creation. According to the amended complaint filed with the court, the conference featured the same “audience, content, format, management, speakers, and… message” as previous conferences hosted by IAP.

In addition, Magdi Odeh, who was listed as AMP’s conference point of contact, was an IAP event organizer. Odeh was also part of a “transition” bulletin board hosted on Yahoo in late 2005 ahead of the creation of AMP. Bazian was also an initial organizer of the group.

The brief also alleges that AMP provided material support for Hamas through a series of intermediaries, including the Dallas-based nonprofit Baitulmaal. According to the brief, Baitulmaal provides funds to the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA), with which it shares staff. UFA gives money to the families of Hamas terrorists who have died while carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.

AMP also raises funds for Viva Palestina, the British organization established in part by former MP George Galloway, who, the brief claims, has directly given financial support to top Hamas leaders including Ismail Haniyeh.

Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted the timing of the appeal, which comes amid an uptick in domestic antisemitism following Israel’s military conflict with Hamas earlier this month. “A couple years ago there was a lot of talk of Islamophobia. Now, it’s interesting, because it’s coming up, [there’s] a lot of talk about antisemitism,” he said. “And with the Israel war [with Hamas this month] just in the rear view, one gets a sense that some of the tensions will be high here.”