Two Al-Qaida Victims’ Families Win $400 Million in Syria Terror Suit
The order from a federal judge in Washington began eerily — unlike any other announcement of the conclusion in a civil liability case.
“It was a sunny day somewhere in Iraq and a light wind blew the long curtains into the room through the open door. A group of men clad in total black, faces covered, stood on a Persian rug facing a camera. Before them, a single man knelt.”
The man was blindfolded, bound and gagged.
From that literary beginning, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer on Sept. 26 embarked on a grim, painfully detailed recitation of the beheadings of two American civilians — which were videotaped for worldwide distribution on the Internet — by al-Qaida in Iraq in September 2004.
Behind the brutal facts, the judge found that the Syrian government, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian intelligence agency and Syria’s director of military intelligence provided material support and resources to the al-Qaida group and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
(…) According to Collyer’s order, Hensley took the job in Iraq after the family fell on difficult economic times. His acceptance of the yearlong job in Iraq kept his family from bankruptcy.
Armstrong and Hensley lived in Iraqi residential housing guarded by the Iraqi militia. But according to Collyer’s order, they and a third man, English national Kenneth Bigley, were kidnapped, reportedly because “these guards abandoned their posts upon a small payment.” On Sept. 18, 2004, a video prominently displaying the logo of al-Qaida in Iraq was released on the Internet showing all three hostages blindfolded and held captive by armed men.
Within days, videos depicting the beheadings were posted on the Internet. Bigley met the same fate as Armstrong and Hensley, according to Collyer’s order. Their bodies were recovered where they had been dumped in Baghdad.
Collyer’s order describes in gruesome detail the beheadings, which were carried out with a short knife. “The horrific sights and sounds of the videos have but one clear purpose,” she continued. “To glorify acts of terrorism, mayhem and murder to frighten the viewer.”
(…) Evidence presented during the trial demonstrated that, “Syria’s support for insurgents in Iraq was evident from the location of the bus transit point to take fighters to Baghdad,” the judge wrote. The transit site was at one time located across the street from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. The street is heavily guarded and regulated by the Syrian military, “one of the most closely guarded and observed spots in Syria.”
According to Collyer, “Foreign fighters were lining up and down the street … actually across the street from the embassy to go to this office and sign up to get on a bus and be transported to Baghdad to take part in the insurgency.”
Collyer concluded that Syrian officials had to have had knowledge of Zarqawi’s activities. “Syria is a ‘world-class’ police state with a dozen intelligence networks spying on its own people, as well as each other,” she wrote. “The effectiveness of Syria’s intelligence networks resembles the Stasi spy system that operated in East Germany. Nothing that happens within Syria of any political significance is unknown to the government.”
This is the real reason why the terrorism exists. Syria knows very well it doesn’t have capability to attack US or Israel militarily speaking. But it can very well practice this kind of terrorism, going unnoticed and without any kind of international sanctions. The considerations in this trial should be given as much publicity as it’s possible, because it’s the only way to make citizens aware that terrorism would never have existed if politically and strategically didn’t meet some kind of people’s goals.