291 F.3d 1000 (7th Cir. 2002), 01-1969, Boim v. Quranic Literacy Inst. and Holy Land Foundation For Relief And Development

Docket Nº:01-1969
Citation:291 F.3d 1000
Party Name:Boim v. Quranic Literacy Inst. and Holy Land Foundation For Relief And Development
Case Date:June 05, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 1000

291 F.3d 1000 (7th Cir. 2002)

Joyce BOIM and Stanley Boim, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of David Boim, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

QURANIC LITERACY INSTITUTE AND HOLY LAND FOUNDATION FOR RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 01-1969, 01-1970.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 5, 2002

Argued Sept. 25, 2001.

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Nathan Lewin, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, Washington, DC, for Joyce and Stanley Boim.

John M. Beal, Chicago, IL, for Quranic Literacy Institute.

Mark J. MacDougall, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, Washington, DC, for Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

Nancy Chang, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY, for National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom and Center for Constitutional Rights.

Douglas Letter, Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., App. Sec., Washington, DC, for United States.

Before ROVNER, DIANE P. WOOD, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

In this case of first impression, the parents of a young United States citizen murdered in Israel by Hamas terrorists have sued several individuals and organizations for the loss of their son. Two of the organizational defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, and the district court denied the motion. In this interlocutory appeal, we are asked to consider the viability of a claim brought under the never-tested 18 U.S.C. § 2333, which allows U.S. nationals who have been injured "by reason of an act of international terrorism" to sue therefor and recover treble damages. We affirm the district court's denial of the defendants' motion to dismiss.

I.

We derive the facts from the allegations of the complaint. At this stage of the proceedings, we must accept these allegations as true, extending to the plaintiffs the benefit of every reasonable inference that may be drawn from the complaint. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164, 113 S.Ct. 1160, 122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993); Slaney v. The International Amateur Athletic Federation, 244 F.3d 580, 597 (7th Cir. 2001), cert. denied,

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--- U.S. ----, 122 S.Ct. 69, 151 L.Ed.2d 35 (2001); Camp v. Gregory, 67 F.3d 1286, 1290 (7th Cir. 1995),cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1244, 116 S.Ct. 2498, 135 L.Ed.2d 190 (1996). We may affirm the dismissal of that complaint only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiffs can prove no set of facts in support of their claim that would entitle them to relief. Slaney, 244 F.3d at 597.

David Boim was the son of Joyce and Stanley Boim, who are United States citizens. David held dual citizenship in the United States and Israel. In 1996, the Boims were living in Israel, where seventeen-year-old David was studying at a yeshiva. On May 13, 1996, David was murdered as he waited with other students at a bus stop near Beit El in the West Bank. He was struck by bullets fired from a passing car, and was pronounced dead within an hour of the shooting. His two attackers were later identified as Amjad Hinawi and Khalil Tawfiq Al-Sharif. The Palestinian Authority apprehended Hinawi and Al-Sharif, and temporarily imprisoned them in early 1997. They were released shortly thereafter, apparently pending trial. Al-Sharif subsequently killed himself and five civilians and injured 192 other people in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on September 4, 1997. Two other suicide bombers joined him in this action. Hinawi, who confessed to participating in the shooting of David Boim, was eventually tried for David's murder by a Palestinian Authority court and was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment on February 17, 1998.

Both Hinawi and Al-Sharif were known members of the military wing of Hamas. The Boims describe Hamas as an extremist, Palestinian militant organization that seeks to establish a fundamentalist Palestinian state. The group is divided into two branches, one political and one military. The military branch receives orders and material support from the political branch. Hamas seeks to advance its political objectives through acts of terrorism and works to undermine the Middle East peace process through violent attacks on civilians. Hamas has a global presence, and terrorist operatives in Gaza and the West Bank receive their instructions, funds, weapons and practical support for their missions from Hamas organizers throughout the world. The Boims believe that Hamas has command and control centers in the United States, Britain and several Western European countries. The leaders of these control centers coordinate fund-raising efforts from sympathetic parties in these various countries and then launder and channel the money to Hamas operatives in Gaza and the West Bank. They also arrange for the purchase of weapons and for the recruitment and training of military personnel. They work with local commanders in the West Bank and Gaza to plan terrorist attacks. Hamas was designated a terrorist organization by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1995 by Executive Order. 1 In 1997, Hamas was designated a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1189. 2

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The Boims allege that Hamas' military wing depends on foreign contributions, with approximately one-third of its multi-million dollar annual budget coming from fund-raising in North America and Western Europe. The Boims believe that the Quranic Literacy Institute ("QLI") and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development ("HLF"), along with other defendants not involved in this appeal, are the main fronts for Hamas in the United States. They allege that these organizations' allegedly humanitarian functions mask their core mission of raising and funneling money and other resources to Hamas operatives in support of terrorist activities.

QLI is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that purports to translate and publish sacred Islamic texts, but the Boims believe it is also engaged in raising and laundering money for Hamas. QLI also employed another defendant, Mohammed Abdul Hamid Khalil Salah, nominally as a computer analyst. The FBI has seized $1.4 million in cash and property from Salah, who is the admitted United States based leader of the military branch of Hamas. He has been prosecuted for channeling money to Hamas and for recruiting, organizing and training terrorist operatives in Israel. Salah is named on a list of Specially Designated Terrorists compiled by the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. 3

HLF is also a not-for-profit corporation, whose ostensible mission is to fund humanitarian relief and development efforts. HLF's director has acknowledged providing money to Hamas, and the Boims allege that, although HLF purports to have a charitable purpose, its true function is to raise and channel money to Hamas for terrorist activities. The U.S. base of HLF's operations is in Texas. HLF also has offices in Jerusalem and in Illinois.

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HLF, QLI and the other organizational defendants are linked by interlocking directorates and by ties to Salah and Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, another individual defendant (not involved in this appeal) who has a leadership role in the military branch of Hamas. 4

According to the Boims, money flows from American contributors to Hamas in a three-step process: first, the front organizations solicit contributions; second, the leaders arrange for the money to be laundered and wired overseas; and third, Hamas operatives in Gaza and the West Bank use the money to finance terrorist activities. Because it is illegal to provide financial support to recognized terrorist groups, the money flows through a series of complicated transactions, changing hands a number of times, and being commingled with funds from the front organizations' legitimate charitable and business dealings. The funds are laundered in a variety of ways, including through real estate deals and through Swiss bank accounts. The Boims allege that money raised by HLF and QLI was transferred to Hamas terrorists using these various methods in order to finance terrorist activities. Hamas used the money raised in this way to purchase weapons to carry out terrorist attacks, including the attack on David Boim. Hamas regularly drew money from a pool of laundered funds in order to finance training, weapons purchases, lodging, false identification, communications equipment, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation and other material support for terrorist operations. The Boims believe that expenditures from this pool of funds paid for the vehicle, machine guns and ammunition used to kill David Boim, and also paid for the training of Hinawi, Al-Sharif and other Hamas operatives involved in the attack on David Boim. The funds were also used to provide a stipend for Al-Sharif's family, as it is a common practice to pay the families of suicide bombers in order to encourage others to volunteer for these activities.

The Boims bring their suit against HLF, QLI and other organizational and individual defendants pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2333. They charge that all of the defendants are civilly liable for David's murder. They name Hinawi and Al-Sharif as the persons who actually killed David, but allege that the other defendants aided, abetted and financed Hinawi and Al-Sharif. They assert that the organizational defendants provided material support or resources to Hamas as those terms are defined in 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A and 2339B. The Boims seek compensation for the extreme physical pain David suffered before his death, and for the cost of his funeral and the loss of accretion to his estate due to his death at age seventeen. They also seek damages for their own extreme mental anguish and loss of the society of their son. They ask for $100,000,000 compensatory damages, $100,000,000 punitive damages, plus costs and attorney's fees, and request the trebling of damages pursuant...

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