day in court

Federal judge rejects American Muslims for Palestine motion to dismiss decades-old terror-financing case

The family of teenager David Boim is seeking to collect $156 million from groups alleged to have provided funding to Hamas

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.

A federal judge in Illinois rejected a motion for dismissal by defendants in a decades-old legal fight waged by the family of a slain Jewish teenager, whose parents allege that the defendants had, under other identities, provided funding to Hamas, members of which carried out the deadly 1996 West Bank attack.

Judge Gary Feinerman ruled that a case against American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP) and Rafeeq Jaber, a former president of both the American Muslim Society and the Islamic Association for Palestine, could proceed.

A judge had ruled in 2004 that the family of David Boim, who was 17 when he was shot and killed at a bus stop in the West Bank, could collect a $52 million judgment from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Holy Land Foundation. Both organizations shuttered in the early 2000s.

That judgment was tripled as a result of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which increased the amount of money that could be given to victims of terror and their families.

Attorneys for the Boim family say that IAP and the Holy Land Foundation reopened under new names, with similar professional and lay leadership, in an effort to evade paying the Boim family.

“They were going to have to pay a judgment,” Alyza Lewin, who has represented the Boim family for two decades, told JI. “And they didn’t pay it. They said, ‘We’re out of business.’ They weren’t really out of business. They basically quietly moved down the block, hung out a new shingle that instead of saying ‘Islamic Association for Palestine’ said ‘American Muslims for Palestine,’ and they were back in business.” 

In his ruling, Feinerman denied the dismissal on four key issues: that the defunct organizations had overlapping leadership with the newly created entities; that the groups served the same organizational purpose; that the defunct organizations shared a similar operating structure; and that the defendants were seeking to avoid having to pay the judgment.

An Illinois judge had previously ruled that AMP could not be considered what is legally described as an “alter ego” of the earlier organizations, a classification reserved for corporate cases in which a company shutters but transfers its assets, institutional knowledge and clientele to a newly created entity. That ruling was reversed last year.

AMP, AJP and Jaber will now have an opportunity to respond to the court’s latest ruling.

Christina Jump, an attorney for the defendants, told JI, “American Muslims for Palestine is an American-formed nonprofit, funded by donations from within America, created to operate only in America. The Boims have never proven anything different. In fact, they have not proven anything in this lawsuit. And no judge has ruled they’ve proven a single allegation against AMP, or any defendant in this case. And if Rafeeq Jaber is ultimately held legally liable in this lawsuit, for the debts of his former employer based on a judgment from the Boims’ first lawsuit, every corporate officer for every company with even one U.S. asset needs to worry.”

“The Boims had the right to file their first lawsuit in 2000,” Jump added. “Multiple judges ruled that the Boims met their burdens of proof in that case. And multiple judges upheld the judgment awarded to them against those defendants.  But not one of those defendants is a defendant in this case. And no judge says they’ve proven any claims in this case. It’s time for answers, and it’s time for proof.”