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The parents of an American teen-ager killed by members of a Palestinian militant group in the West Bank can sue U.S. Islamic charities accused of contributing to the organization, a federal appeals court ruled. Wednesday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows the family to use a never-tested law and could bolster lawsuits filed by victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “It should be taken as a warning to any contributors to an organization that supports terrorism that if there is an American victim, he can sue the contributors and recover huge damages in an American court,” said Nathan Lewin, an attorney for Joyce and Stanley Boim. The couple filed a $300 million lawsuit in the 1996 killing of their son, David, by Hamas militants. The court’s decision marked the first time a federal appeals court ruled on the provisions of the 1992 federal Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows for the recovery of damages due to acts of terrorism. “It’s a notable decision both for the fact that it addresses a very interesting and largely unsettled free-speech issue and it arises in the context of lots of terrorist acts taking place,” said Jesse Choper, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Attorneys for the charities, which had appealed a trial judge’s decision not to throw out the lawsuit, argue that only people who commit terrorist acts can be sued under the law. Named as defendants in the Boims’ lawsuit are Quranic Literacy Institute of Oak Lawn, Ill.; Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which has offices in Palos Hills, Ill.; and Mohammed Abdul Hamid Khalil Salah, a Bridgeview, Ill., resident who served five years in an Israeli prison for funneling funds to Hamas. The groups have said there is no way they could have known that any money they contributed to organizations on the West Bank would be used in the Boim shooting. John Beal, an attorney representing the Quranic Literacy Institute, which translates Islamic texts, said no decision has been made on whether to ask the full court to hear the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Holy Land Foundation, whose offices were raided and closed by the U.S. Treasury Department in December as part of a terrorism investigation, has denied supporting terrorism, saying it raises funds for humanitarian and disaster relief. Salah couldn’t be reached for comment because he has an unlisted phone number. The Boims are former New Yorkers who live in Jerusalem. Their son was a 17-year-old yeshiva student when he was gunned down while waiting with other students at a bus stop in the Jewish settlement of Beit El. The men apprehended in the attack were described in court papers as members of Hamas. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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