American Victims of Palestinian Terror Seek Justice

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WASHINGTON -- Over the years, Palestinian terror groups have slaughtered countless Israeli civilians. In the process, they've also killed and injured dozens of American citizens.

Now there is a movement to have those Palestinians face justice here in the United States. But the hardest part may be getting the U.S. government to take action.

Seeking Justice

When Israeli solider Gilad Shalit was released, after years of captivity, by his Hamas kidnappers last fall, many Israelis cheered.

Yet Israel paid a heavy price in the deal: More than 1,000 hardened Palestinian terrorists were exchanged for Shalit, including some who were involved in the murder of Americans.

"We know of at least 15 terrorists who were released who were involved in attacks with American casualties," American terror victim Alan Bauer told CBN News.

Bauer and his young son were among those injured. In 2002, they were seriously wounded by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem.

Bauer said two of the attack's planners were released as part of the Shalit deal -- as were others who've been involved in attacking Americans.

"These were people who were instrumental in the planning, executing, and arranging of attacks in which people were killed and injured," Bauer said.

At least 54 U.S. citizens have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks since 1993. Another 83 have been wounded, some seriously.

The attacks have targeted American tourists, students, and expatriates living in Israel or areas under Palestinian control.

Ahlam Tamimi helped mastermind the deadly 2001 bombing of the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem, which killed 15 people. Among those murdered was New Jersey schoolteacher Shosana Greenbaum.

Tamimi, who was released in the Shalit deal, now lives in Jordan and is unrepentant about her actions.

U.S. Abandoning its People?

"We have an extradition treaty with Jordan. If America wanted to get this woman and shackle her and have her stand justice and actually be punished for her heinous crimes, we could," said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth in Washington, D.C.

Stern said the U.S. government is not following through on cases involving Palestinian terrorists.

"There's a 1990 anti-terrorism law that says that any time an American is killed anywhere in the world, we have the right to retrieve that suspect and have them stand justice," Stern said.

When it became clear that wasn't happening, Stern helped push through legislation on Capitol Hill that would bring justice to American families affected by Palestinian terrorism.

That move led to the Department of Justice opening an office devoted to American victims of overseas terrorism.

Yet in the seven years since that office opened, not one Palestinian involved in terror against Americans has been extradited or even indicted to face justice in the United States -- despite plenty of leverage in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority each year.

The U.S. has extradited a Somali pirate, al Qaeda members, and several Israeli citizens who were involved in drug trafficking and Internet fraud, but no Palestinian terrorists.

"The DOJ is comitted to the principle that those who engage in or materially support terrorist acts against U.S. citizens must be brought to justice, whether in the United States or elsewhere," a Justice Department official told CBN News.

But Bauer said the American reluctance to pursue Palestinians is not limited to those involved in the Shalit exchange and has been going on for years, under both Presidents Bush and Obama.

 "The U.S. government has decided that extraditing Palestinian terrorists would hurt its reputation with the Palestinian people, and with the Arab street. And as such, it has made no real effort," Bauer said.
 
He hopes that will change. Along with other victims of Palestinian terror, Bauer recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to bring their attackers to justice.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.