Daniel Pipes

But no, the U.S. Department of Justice "entered this case as amicus curiae in support of Bank Melli." It did so, explained a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, "to vindicate a correct reading" of the U.S. regulation. Its amicus brief appears decisively to have influenced the trial judge, Denise Cote, who adopted the joint Bank Melli-Justice Department position in toto and ruled in March 2006 against the funds being awarded to the victims. The latter appealed to the Second Circuit Court, but it too sided with the Justice Department, dismissing the suit in April 2007.

Its funds then in the clear, Bank Melli immediately removed them all from BoNY and transferred them beyond U.S. jurisdiction.

The story does not end there. On October 25, the State Department announced that Bank Melli would henceforth be cut off from the U.S. financial system because it "provides banking services to entities involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs" by facilitating "numerous purchases of sensitive materials." Further, it found that Bank Melli "was used to send at least $100 million" to Iran's terrorist fronts, including those which had trained the Hamas members who perpetrated the 1997 Jerusalem bombing.

This incompetent outrage – Washington first helping Bank Melli, then sanctioning it – fits a larger pattern of federal agencies advocating in court on behalf of terrorists.

* Justice tried to shield Tehran from victims' claims in the University of Chicago case.

* It opposed the attachment of a mere $10,000 of Iranian funds to one 1997 victim family; and, when the family won in district court, it appealed the verdict.

* It interceded in Ungar v. Hamas to prevent the orphaned victims' attachment of $5 million belonging to the Holy Land Foundation, a Texas organization prosecuted as a Hamas front.

* In Ungar v. PLO and PA, the State Department rescued the Palestine Liberation Organization when the Ungars tried to enforce their $116 million judgment against a PLO-owned office building in Manhattan.

Is there not something deeply flawed about the U.S. government consistently siding with terrorists and, according to Strachman, "never once supporting terrorism victims to collect their judgments in court"? One hopes it will not require a new terrorist catastrophe to fix these misguided policies.


Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.