Damages Awarded in Terror Attack

ByABC News
July 11, 2000, 6:57 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, July 11 -- A federal judge ruled today that Iran wasresponsible for a terrorist bombing in Israel that killed anAmerican couple, and awarded their relatives $327 million.

The parents of Matthew Eisenfeld, 25, a rabbinical student fromWest Hartford, Conn., and Sara Duker, 22, of Teaneck, N.J., suedIran under a federal law that allows victims to seek damages fromnations that sponsor international terrorism.

Payment Delay Expected

Other terrorism victims have won similar court judgments, onlyto be stymied by the U.S. government in their efforts to collect. The Clinton administration maintains that frozen assetsand diplomatic properties of foreign nations cannot be used to payoff the judgments.

Dukers mother, Arline, said she expects similar roadblocks butis determined to overcome them.

I see this as a $327 million weapon against Irans use ofterrorism to conduct foreign policy, she said. The issue is forIran not to have the money, for Iran to be punished.

A message left at Irans mission to the United Nations was notimmediately returned today.

A Key ConfessionThe Iranian government did not send representatives to court tocontest the lawsuit. Still, to win a judgment, the families had toprove Iran was behind the Feb. 25, 1996, bus bombing in Jerusalemthat killed 24 and injured 80.

Their lawyer, Steven Perles, built the case around a confessionthe accused mastermind of the bombing, Hassan Salamah, gave toIsraeli police.

We learned from that confession that he was selected by theIranians to run a Hamas bomb cell, Perles said, using the popularname of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

Perles said Salamah spent time at a secret military installationoutside Tehran learning such skills as how to disassemble a landmine, so its explosive could be used in a terrorist attack.

Perles said the bomb that killed Duker and Eisenfeld contained20 pounds of explosive extracted from a mine built byCzechoslovakia, sold to Egypt and most likely salvaged from anabandoned minefield on the Egypt-Israel border.