St. John's Journal of International and Comparative Law
Civil litigation has fantastic potential to punish acts of terror and to deter future acts. However, there exists a conundrum regarding the establishment of the factual connection between the regime that secretly sponsors or supports terror and the actual acts of terror. To hold a regime responsible for terrorism, accountability must be established.
The ongoing civil action of Sokolow v. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) perfectly illustrates this dilemma—on the one hand the offending regime disavows acts of terror while on the other hand it secretly supports and orchestrates terror. However, Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Assembly (PNA), Chairman of the PLO, and senior leader of the Fatah political party, ultimately bears direct responsibility for the terror attacks against the American civilians involved in Sokolow.
In order for the plaintiffs in Sokolow to succeed in the subject civil action, it must be demonstrated that the PLO and the Fatah party, both under the effective control of Yasser Arafat, were responsible for the terror attacks during the Second Intifada. Because the defendants acted to avoid accountability, as is the pattern for all regimes that sponsor or support terrorism, this task is difficult. It is demonstrable, however, that, given the length of the Second Intifada and the number of terror attacks, the fingerprints are massive, and the case can stand as an ideal illustration of the use of civil suits to bring terrorists to account. The Sokolow case has the potential to do much good in the quest for justice and deterrence.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, Using a Civil Suit to Punish/Deter Sponsors of Terrorism: Connecting Arafat & the PLO to the Terror Attacks in the Second Intifada, 4 St. John’s J. Int’l & Comp. L. 71 (2014).