A Thank You From The Lawfare Project
On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, The Lawfare Project and the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP presented Lawfare: Expert Perspectives, featuring New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Amb. John Bolton, Amb. Ido Aharoni, Dr. Qanta Ahmed (author of In The Land of Invisible Women), and LP Director Brooke Goldstein.
Hosted by Mayer Brown partners Richard A. Spehr and Steven Wolowitz, the event was held to announce the firm's participation in counter-lawfare initiatives on a pro bono basis. The Lawfare Project would like to thank Mayer Brown and all participants for making the event a tremendous success.
Photos of the event are available on our Facebook Page, and video of the event will be available soon on the LP website.
Kansas governor signs measure blocking application of foreign law in U.S. courts, CAIR says it will likely bring suit
USA Today (May 26, 2012)
Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed a law, taking effect July 1, stating that courts, administrative agencies, and state tribunals cannot base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would deprive the parties of rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions. The law makes no specific mention of Sharia law, and legislators who were skeptical of the bill have opined that it is "broad and bland enough" such that it does not specifically target Islam. It was approved unanimously by the House and with "broad, bipartisan support" by the Senate. Nonetheless, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that the legislation will likely be challenged in court because the law's supporters allegedly expressed concern about Sharia law.
CAIR, an unindicted coconspirator in a Hamas funding trial, is a frequent lawfare proponent. The organization frivolously sued former Representative Cass Ballenger after he reported CAIR to the FBI as the "fund-raising arm for Hezbollah," unsuccessfully attempted to have the tax-exempt status of the Clarion Foundation revoked for its film Obsession (which analyzed the nexus between terrorism and militant Islam), and was recently accused of working to impede FBI investigations into terrorism.
Turkish prosecutor wants Ashkenazi, 3 more IDF chiefs jailed for flotilla killings
Times of Israel (May 23, 2012)
Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci seeks to indict former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi along with three other IDF commanders over the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, during which nine Turkish citizens were killed after Israeli interception of the ship. The document released by the Turkish prosecutor charges the former commanders with premeditated murder of ten Turkish nationals as well as deliberate torture of 114 Palestinian passengers on board. In 2011, Israel conducted a formal investigation into the Mavi Marmara event and cleared the IDF of wrongdoing. Additionally, Israel has stated that the Israeli naval commandos were attacked when they attempted to commandeer the vessel pursuant to Israel's blockade of Gaza, and that they opened fire in self-defense.
The UN committee that investigated the flotilla incident, as well as other experts, agree that the maritime blockade of Gaza is legal and in accordance with international law. Attempts to break the blockade are aimed directly at assisting Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Intended to prevent the furnishing of weapons and other non-humanitarian assistance ("material support") to Hamas, the blockade is applied impartially to all vessels and has permitted the delivery of humanitarian aid into the blockaded area. Additionally, numerous accounts - including video recordings - have shown that Mavi Marmara passengers were armed with stun grenades, metal rods, chains, and other weapons, and that the passengers were the initial aggressors, attacking the IDF soldiers as they boarded the flotilla.
Further Lawfare Project analysis of the Mavi Marmara incident can be found here.
Indonesia: No Model for Muslim Democracy
The New York Times (May 21, 2012)
While Indonesia has made considerable improvements in consolidating a steady, democratic government after five decades of authoritarian rule, recent praise of the nation by Western leaders is premature. British Prime Minister David Cameron, for instance, applauded Indonesia for demonstrating that "religion and democracy need not be in conflict," and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, "If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women's rights can coexist, go to Indonesia." Freedom of religion is protected under Indonesia's constitution, but atheists, Christians, Bahá'ís, Shiites, Sufis, and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community are routinely prosecuted under anti-blasphemy and anti-proselytizing regulations. As of 2010, more than 150 religiously motivated regulations restricting minority rights had been enacted.
Ohio man gets six years for plot to smuggle money to Hezbollah
Reuters (May 21, 2012)
Hor Akl was sentenced to 75 months in prison after pleading guilty to arranging shipment of $200,000 to Hezbollah, an Islamist terrorist group in Lebanon. The counts include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering, perjury, and bankruptcy fraud. Akl's wife, Amera, plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist group and is now serving a 40-month prison sentence.
Iran, Syria ordered to pay terror victim's family
The Jerusalem Post (May 15, 2012)
A United States district court awarded $332 million in damages from Iran and Syria to the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old who died from wounds sustained in a 2006 Tel Aviv suicide bombing. The attack was carried out by a member of Islamic Jihad, an offshoot of the designated terrorist organization Hamas. Iran and Syria, the court held, provided material support and resources needed for the bombing. The suit was brought under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1602 et seq., enabling U.S. civilians to sue sovereign states that sponsor terrorism, such as Iran and Syria. According to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, this is the first time that the Syrian government has been found liable by a U.S. federal court for its support of Islamist terror organizations, which continuously carry out suicide attacks against civilians in Israel.