|Participants in the hearing|
Responding to a perceived lack of adequate assistance for U.S. victims of terrorism outside the United States, the US Congress heard evidence yesterday (Tuesday) from the family members of several victims as well as from a Deputy Assistant Attorney General.
From a report headed "Obama Admin Has Not Prosecuted a Single Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed Americans" [Washington Free Beacon, February 2, 2016]:
The Obama administration has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist responsible for killing Americans abroad, despite a congressional mandate ordering the Justice Department to take action against these individuals, according to disclosures made by lawmakers on Tuesday.
Palestinian terrorists have murdered at least 64 Americans, including two unborn children, since 1993. Yet the U.S. government has failed to take legal action against those who committed the crimes, lawmakers disclosed during a Tuesday hearing on the Justice Department’s failure to live up to its mandate to bring these terrorists to justice.
Many of the terrorists continue to roam free across the Middle East, with one hosting a Hamas-affiliated television show in Jordan.
With criticism mounting from Congress and U.S. victims of terrorism, Justice Department officials say they are working to initiate cases, but warn that this could take “many years” to play out.
Arnold Roth was in Washington yesterday (Tuesday) to take part in the hearing. Click below to view his oral testimony:
Video: Arnold Roth's comments start at the 25m 00s mark and then again, responding to a question
from the chairman, at 01h 02m 15s.
from the chairman, at 01h 02m 15s.
His twelve-page written testimony document is here.
The hearing, under the title “Seeking Justice for Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel”, took place in the Subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It sought to examine the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), an office that began operations inside the Department of Justice in May 2005. Its mission has included ensuring that when Americans are injured or killed in terrorist attacks overseas, investigation and prosecution remains a high priority within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
From the Washington Free Beacon:
Justice Department officials who testified maintain that they are aggressively working behind the scenes to make cases against foreign terrorists who have killed and injured Americans. Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, maintained that there are a number of “open investigations,” though he declined to provide further information.And from Hamodia:
“While I cannot discuss these investigations today or the facts of specific cases, it’s important to note the absence of public charges associated with a particular overseas attack does not mean that there are no charges, or that no such charges will be brought,” Weigmann said, noting that a prosecution could take place “many years” after an attack.
“I can certainly understand the frustration of some of the families that the Department of Justice has not prosecuted more cases involving terrorist attacks against Americans in Israel,” Wiegmann said...
Amid emotional testimony from the families of victims and several organizations, the members of a House committee probed Brad Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice, as to why none of the killers of the 64 Americans murdered in terror attacks in Israel had been prosecuted by the department.
At the center of the hearing was the role of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), created in 2005 “to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of deaths of American citizens overseas [as a result of terrorism] are a high priority within DOJ.” Reflecting on the announced purpose of the office and its track record regarding those hurt or killed in Israel, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), the chairman of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in the hearing, “This is not what Congress intended [by creating the special department], nor is it what the American people want.”
Rep. DeSantis told Hamodia that the committee called the investigative hearing after it “received information from victims’ families about the inadequacy of OVT and the lack of prosecutions.”
Mr. Wiegmann said that while he “understands the frustration” over the lack of prosecutions, the chief purpose of the OVT is to “assist in foreign prosecutions,” implying that if the government of the country in which the act was perpetrated was acting appropriately, the department would not act directly. He also pointed to 12 instances where the DOJ prosecuted Palestinians for financing terror and added that a lack of “public charges does not mean that there are no charges or that none will be brought.”
Committee members seemed less than convinced, with Rep. DeSantis saying, “When it’s 0 to 64, people wonder what the department is doing.” Mr. Wiegmann confirmed that the DOJ had indicted many perpetrators of terror against Americans in countries other than Israel. He could not provide a number.
One of those giving testimony was Arnold Roth, father of Malka Roth, HY”D, who was killed in the bombing of the Sbarro pizza shop in 2001.
“Since justice is the heart of our concerns, and years have gone by without update or result, it has to be said that justice has not been achieved here,” he said. “If some larger truth lies behind the lack of momentum, that truth ought to be disclosed. If diplomatic considerations override the law enforcement imperatives, we wish that were made known, too.”
Mr. Wiegmann flatly denied this motivation under questioning, saying it is “absolutely not the case.” ["Congress Grills DOJ on Inaction Over U.S. Victims of Palestinian Terror", Rafael Hoffman in Hamodia, February 3, 2016]
Naturally we're hoping for some concrete outcomes. Updates if and when they come.