Placing terrorism in the dock

Israeli lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner (pictured) who has successfully sued a long list of international terror organisations over the past decade, netting more than $US1 billion in damages, is set to visit Australia this month.

The “lawfare” expert, who also runs the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Centre – is being brought out for briefings by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC). Among her addresses, she will deliver the Hans and Gini Bachrach Oration in Melbourne, co-hosted by AIJAC and the Jerusalem College of Technology, and also speak at Shalom College in

Sydney, co-hosted by AIJAC and the State Zionist Council of NSW.

Using Israeli and American leglislation, Shurat HaDin has waged a legal campaign against organisations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the Iranian government in US and Israeli courts.

Darshan-Leitner explained that while terrorists and their sponsors do not pay up, US anti-terror laws allow Washington to freeze their assets and holdings, including bank accounts, stock holdings and real estate, mainly through banks in which these organisations do business. “Money is the oxygen of terrorism, and if we can stop the flow of money, we can reduce terrorism,” she told The AJN in an interview from Israel.

Darshan-Leitner said that while terrorist weapons, such as home-made bombs, are relatively inexpensive, that does not hold true for the amounts of money needed to train and pay recruits working in terror cells.

The first plaintiffs to sue a terrorist outfit were the family of Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound Jewish American who was murdered when thrown from the deck of the Achille Lauro ocean liner during a PLO terrorist attack in 1985.

As there was no PLO presence in the US at that time, US laws were amended to get around a lack of jursdiction.

Now Iran, Syria and North Korea, all on the US State Department’s “watch list” of countries sponsoring terrorism, can be sued in the US.

Shurat HaDin began its litigation in 2000 after the outbreak of the Second Intifada. Since then, it has managed to prise major global banks from their terrorist
customers.

Israeli intelligence sources have told Shurat HaDin its lawsuits have reduced terrorism by around 60 per cent.
“The amount of money Hamas can smuggle through tunnels in suitcases is about a tenth of what can be wired through a bank,” said Darshan-Leitner.

Despite battling major US and European law firms that represent the defendants, Shurat HaDin has an almost perfect strike rate in winning cases, she said.

Iran has been deprived of its financial resources in Italy, France and Germany, where nervous banks have cut ties with the rogue regime, but Tehran has transferred a lot of its banking to Asia, she said.

The Hans and Gini Bachrach Memorial Oration is at 8pm on Monday, February 14 at Caulfield Hebrew Congregation. Enquiries: AIJAC  (03) 9681 6660
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner will speak at Shalom College, Sydney. at 8pm on Tuesday, February 15. Enquiries: AIJAC (02) 9360 5415.

PETER KOHN