NEW YORK (Sep. 8)
A leading U.S. senator has joined with the parents of terror victims in urging Washington to press for the extradition of Palestinians suspected of killing 11 American citizens.
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday that the United States should set a deadline for Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to turn over 12 Palestinians for trial here.
Failure to comply should result in the loss of U.S. financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, D’Amato said at a news conference organized by the Zionist Organization of America.
The news conference took place outside a federal building in lower Manhattan, only blocks from the courthouse where two suspected terrorists will be tried for the Aug. 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Twelve U.S. citizens were among the more than 250 people killed in the explosions.
The anti-terrorism act of 1996 permits the prosecution on American soil of individuals who allegedly kill U.S. citizens abroad.
“What about the Americans killed in the Middle East?” New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind asked the crowd of about 40 people. “Are they less American than those killed in Africa?”
D’Amato announced that he would send a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright demanding that she seek action to extradite and try Palestinians identified by the Israeli government as having been involved in the deaths of American citizens during the past four years.
Also speaking at the news conference were Stephen Flatow, Joyce Boim and Vicki Eisenfeld, the parents of three of the Americans killed in terrorist attacks.
“I will not rest until justice is done,” said Boim. “My son’s blood is as good as any Americans wherever they were killed.”
The news conference attracted some local media coverage and a few curious passers-by — an illustration, some in attendance said, of the lack of attention the call for U.S. prosecution of Palestinian terrorists has generated.
But in May, the House of Representatives unanimously supported, in a vote of 406-0, a bipartisan resolution calling on President Clinton to address the matter.
Earlier that month, 62 congressional representatives sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno calling on the Justice Department to “investigate, indict, and prosecute any individual who kills, attempts to kill, or engages in a conspiracy to kill a U.S. national in a foreign country pursuant of a terrorist act.”
D’Amato’s involvement in the cause follows his successful campaign on behalf of Holocaust survivors to wrest payment from Swiss banks and an Italian insurance firm. His appearance at the news conference also comes amid his re-election campaign.
Noting that the Palestinian Authority receives $100 million in U.S. aid annually, D’Amato said it was “not acceptable” to allow Arafat “to continue business as usual.”