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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family of American terror victim allowed to sue 'Palestinian Authority' in US

On October 15, 2003, a U.S. embassy convoy was on a visit to Gaza to interview 'Palestinian' candidates for Fulbright scholarship programs in the United States. The convoy consisted of three fully armored but unmarked Suburbans. The first vehicle was occupied by the diplomats on the interview mission. The second vehicle was occupied by American contract protective security specialists: John Branchizio (36), John Linde (30), and Mark Parsons (31). The third vehicle had agents of the Diplomatic Security Service on a “route and area familiarization” trip.

Just after the convoy entered the Gaza Strip from the Erez checkpoint, an explosion totally destroyed the second vehicle in the motorcade, killing the three specialists. A U.S. embassy document states that the device appeared to have been “placed under the road and remotely detonated as the vehicles passed.”

The family of Mark Parsons, and particularly his brother John, have been pursuing justice in Mark's case for nearly eight years. A detailed summary of some of those efforts is here. On Sunday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a lower court ruling and granted the Parsons family the right to sue the 'Palestinian Authority' in a civil lawsuit in the United States.
"Although we agree with the district court that the family's conspiracy claim theories are too speculative to survive summary judgment, we believe a reasonable juror could conclude that Palestinian Authority employees provided material support to the bomber," reads the ruling.

...

The PA, U.S. and Israeli officials all conducted investigations into the bombing. Documents provided to the Parsons family and included in the suit showed that the PA detained six suspects, including Amer Qarmout, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committee, who admitted that he had dug a hole in that spot to place a bomb and asked guards with the PA National Security Service to ignore the shoveling, which he said they did. However, Qarmout said he never personally planted a bomb.

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which tracks data on "radical Islamic terror groups," the immediate forensics investigation after the bombing reportedly was cut short when Palestinians made their way to the explosion site and started tampering with the scene. According to documents released by the FBI, investigators had stones thrown at their cars as they were leaving the area.

The lower court threw out the Parsons family claim under the Anti-Terrorism Act because it said the family cannot link the PA to a specific bomber. But the appeals court ruled that sufficient evidence existed, including forensic reports that showed the bomb that killed Parsons was made of the same material Qarmont says he uses for bomb-making.

That and other statements and documents are enough to allow the case to go to a jury, the judges ruled.

"Sorting out these contradictions, deciding how much weight to give evidence that supports or undermines the family's case and evaluating how much credibility to assign Qarmout's incriminating versus exculpatory statements are prototypical jury functions that courts may not commandeer," the court ruled.

"In sum, we conclude that a reasonable juror could find on the basis of the family's evidence that Qarmout planted the bomb that killed Parsons and that Palestinian Security forces at the nearby security checkpoint complied with Qarmout's request not to interfere with his effort to plant a bomb," the ruling reads. "Because such acts qualify as providing material support ... we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Palestinian Authority on the family's material support claim."

The circuit court judges -- Karen LeCraft Henderson, David S. Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown -- were split on several questions posed by the appeal, and reaffirmed the lower court's decision siding for the PA on whether a conspiracy was in the works to target U.S. security personnel.

Though the State Department mentioned the three men who were killed in its 2004 annual report on Patterns of Global Terrorism, IPT said infighting between the FBI and State Department had hampered the investigation.

IPT reported that John Parsons, the brother of Mark Parsons, said he was told in October 2010 that the FBI had closed the case on the deaths of Parsons as well as John Branchizio and John M. Linde Jr., although no perpetrator was ever caught.
The JPost adds:
In that ruling, the lower court said that it could not hold the PA liable for the "alleged criminal acts of a few employees".

After the bombing, PA security personnel arrested and interrogated six suspects, including Amer Qarmout, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). Qarmout admitted possessing bombs before the explosion that killed Parsons and described the structure of those bombs.

Although both PA and FBI investigations revealed that the bomb that killed Parsons matched in type and structure devices used by the PRC, neither the PA, Israel or the USA have ever publicly identified the bomber responsible for Parsons's death.
One would be astounded at the brazen disregard for American lives by the US government until one realizes that the United States covered up for 33 years the fact that Yasser Arafat ordered the murders two US diplomats and a Belgian diplomat in Khartoum in 1973.

I was in touch with John Parsons today. His battle is far from over: The 'Palestinian Authority' has plenty of American taxpayer money provided as foreign aid with which it will fight John every step of the way, and more than enough 'do gooder' lawyers who are happy to defend the 'poor Palestinians.' It's simply a disgrace.

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