Jewish activist Rabbi Avi Weiss has filed separate lawsuits against two of Washington’s most prominent entities, the FBI and Howard University.
The FBI suit, which names Director Louis Freeh, accuses the bureau of suppressing evidence that Weiss was a potential target of the terrorist network indicted in the World Trade Center bombing two years ago.
The suit against Howard alleges that security guards at the predominately black university violated Weiss’ right to protest when they failed to protect him and three other activists during a controversial speech there last year by Nation of Islam leader Khalid Abdul Mohammad.
Mohammed has made numerous anti-Semitic statements in his public speeches.
The FBI suit was filed in Federal Court, while the Howard suit was filed in U.S. District Court.
In the FBI suit, filed May 3, Weiss seeks a court order saying the bureau breached its constitutional duty and federal laws when it waited seven months to inform him that members of the group led by Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman had twice called him "a suitable candidate for violence."
Weiss, national president of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns-Amcha, is also asking for an injunction preventing the FBI from suppressing such information in the future, according to an Amcha statement.
"I am just one person who was not told," Weiss said in the statement. "I’m taking this action because I believe there are others who might be potential victims who should be informed so they can take appropriate measures."
In a May 5 statement, the FBI said Weiss’ allegations were "without any factual or legal merit."
The statement also said the bureau’s actions in the matter were "entirely appropriate" and did not endanger Weiss.
Meanwhile, the Howard suit, filed April 12, is on hold until the university responds to the complaint, said Steven Lieberman, Weiss’ attorney in the case.
The suit, which also names Howard security guard Robert Cyrus, alleges that Cyrus and District of Columbia police allowed observers to heckle Weiss at the April 1994 event.
The suit also accuses Cyrus of destroying several of Weiss’ signs and forcing him to leave.
Weiss is seeking at least $50,000 in damages, and has requested a jury trial, Lieberman said, adding that if his client wins the lawsuit, Weiss plans to donate the money to a charity that deals with black-Jewish relations.
A university spokesman refused to comment on the case.