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Murderers of U.S. Citizen Avi Boaz in Church of the Nativity

Murderers of U.S. Citizen Avi Boaz in Church of the Nativity

Israeli Attorney Darshan-Leitner's Letter To U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft

May 8, 2002
Attorney General John Ashcroft
United States Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
Via Fax: 202-307-6777

Re: Information Concerning Murderers of U.S. Citizen Avi Boaz

(Background: After Boaz's murder the New York Times ran an article about him. An American citizen with duel Israeli citizenship, Avi Boaz was well-known and loved by a number of Palestinians in Beit Jala. He used to visit them regularly and in the past had helped out some financially. He was invited to their wedding and celebrations, and vice-a-versa. One day he was driving with a Palestinian friend when their car was commendered. The Palestinian was beaten and thrown out of the car. Then Boaz was driven a short distance to an empty field and machine gunned to death as he sat helplessly in his car.)

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft,

This is now the third time I am writing to you concerning the location of the murderers of United States citizen Avi Boaz. My two earlier letters of April 10th and May 2nd, did not receive any response from your office. As I wrote to you previously, (letters attached hereto) I am seriously concerned that the murderers of Avi Boaz, who have currently taken refuge in the Church of the Nativity may not be brought to justice. The pair, Ibrahim Musa Salem Abyat and Ismail Musa Muhammed Hamdan, killed Boaz on January 15, 2002 in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour. Boaz, as I noted before, was 72 years old.

To my dismay the deal that has now been announced concerning the Bethlehem Church standoff will permit both Abyat and Hamdan to escape to Italy and evade criminal prosecution. Even more shocking is that the United States State Department and Secretary Powell are deeply involved in these negotiations. It is unbelievable that following the tragedy of September 11th and in light of the Bush Administration's war on terror, that the United States government would assist the terrorist killers of a United States citizen to escape justice.

Moreover, it is inconceivable that both the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice would allow this to happen without even raising a protest. As you are well informed the United States has jurisdiction to prosecute violent crimes against American citizens anywhere in the world. Pursuant to 18 USC section 2332:

"Whoever kills a national of the United States, while such national is outside the United States, shall - if the killing is murder - be fined under this title, punished by death or imprisonment for any term of years of for life, or both. . . " It clearly was the Congress' intent that crimes committed against Americans anywhere in the world would be vigorously prosecuted by your office.

As such, the United States must minimally, undertake some effort to convince the Israelis to arrest and prosecute Abyat and Hamdan. To merely allow the killers of an elderly and defenseless American citizen to go free, with the Department of Justice's blessing, is contrary to everything the Bush Administration has publicly insisted it is trying to accomplish in its war on terror.

Attorney General Ashcroft, as the chief law enforcement official of the United States, you must recognize that governments, security services, police forces and courts worldwide look to your leadership for the proper response to those that traget innocent civilians. The brutal murder of 72 year old Avi Boaz cannot go unpunished. I respectfully appeal to you to undertake steps to ensure that Abyat and Hamdan are taken into custody either by the Israeli military forces or the United States. It must be understood that the decision to allow them to escape will come back to haunt the American government. There are no quick fixes or short-cuts when it comes to Palestinian terrorist. Moreover, the Department of Justice will not be able to claim it did not know.

After Abyat and Hamdan escape abroad, will the Department of Justice be satisfied to cynically announce a reward for the killers of Avi Boaz and place his photo on the government's terrorist reward website?

In 1985, the United States allowed PLO terrorist Abu Abbas to escape to Italy. Abu Abbas, it is recalled, was the mastermind of the Achille Lauro hi-jacking and the murderer of Leon Klinghoeffer. Today, Abu Abbas freely sits in Bagdad and plots new terrorist attacks that are carried out inside of Israel. The simple lesson is that there can be no deals, compromises or "real politics" when it comes to Palestinian terrorism. 18 USC section 2332 which extends American jurisdiction over crimes against U.S. citizens worldwide is a direct result of Congress' frustration that it had been impotent in the past to act against killers such as Abu Abbas, Abyat and Hamdan. Fortunately, there exists today a legal framework to bring Boaz's killers to justice.

Both the United States and Israel have the jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute Abyat and Hamdan. I await your reply. Very truly yours, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Adv.

Cc: Senator Leahy Senator Biden
Senator Dashle Senator Clinton
Senator Lott Senator Hatch
Senator Biden Senator Specter
Senator Feinstein Senator Harkin
Senator Schumer Senator Kerry
 


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