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legal moves

ADL, victims’ families sue Iran, Syria and North Korea over Oct. 7 support

ADL is working with more than 100 American victims of the attack and their family members, seeking financial compensation

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Family belongings including teddy bears, and the Judaica shelf are destroyed in a home after Hamas militants attacked this kibbutz near the Gaza border on October 13, 2023.

The Anti-Defamation League filed a federal lawsuit on Monday, alongside more than 100 American victims and survivors of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and their family members, accusing Iran, Syria and North Korea of providing material support for the attacks.

The lawsuit ultimately seeks compensation for the victims and their families, which would likely be paid out from the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism fund. It accuses the three rogue states of providing military, tactical and financial support to Hamas.

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of antisemitism and terror — along with Syria and North Korea, they must be held responsible for their roles in the largest antisemitic attack since the Holocaust,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We are doing everything possible to hold Hamas terrorists and those who support them accountable, including putting all of ADL’s weight behind this effort.”

Greenblatt said he’s hoping that the case will “bring justice” for some of the victims and “create a record” of the Hamas atrocities, as supported by foreign states.

One plaintiff, Nahar Neta, whose mother, Adrienne Neta, was a U.S. citizen who immigrated to Israel in the early 1980s and was killed in Kibbutz Beeri, said, “While nothing will ever undo the unbearable pain Hamas caused our family or recover the brutal losses we’ve suffered, we hope this case will bring some sense of justice.”

“It’s important for us to be able to tell our stories so the world can hear how Hamas has terrorized Israel, the Jewish people, and many American citizens,” Neta continued.

ADL filed the case with law firm Crowell & Moring. It’s the first such case filed since the Oct. 7 attack and the largest of its kind, the ADL said in a statement.

James Pasch, ADL’s senior director of national litigation and the group’s lead counsel on the case, noted in a statement that Iran, Syria and North Korea have all been held responsible in U.S. courts for their support for attacks harming U.S. citizens, and adding that there’s “clear evidence” that each supported Hamas.

Crowell & Moring has been involved in terrorism cases relating to the UTA flight 772 bombing and bombings of U.S. embassies in Beirut and Nairobi, Kenya, and said it has won $18 billion in judgments.

“It is imperative to combat terrorism using whatever tools are available,” Crowell & Moring attorney Aryeh Portnoy, a co-lead of the firm’s terrorism team, said. “One of those tools is the courts, and another is the U.S. Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund. We are committed to fighting for the victims and families so that they are never forgotten, and so that they may find some measure of justice for the horrors they have endured.”  

ADL highlighted in a release about the effort that there have been long-running challenges for victims hoping to receive compensation from the victims of terrorism fund, prompting legislative action, which ADL is also supporting “to ensure that the victims of the October 7th terrorist attacks will receive the compensation to which they are entitled when they obtain their judgements.”

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