Justice Department, Terror Victims Reach Agreement


The United States Department of Justice has reportedly reached an agreement to distribute the proceeds from the sale of 650 Fifth Avenue to families who were impacted by terrorist attacks allegedly carried out by Iran.

650 Fifth Avenue.
650 Fifth Avenue.

Under the agreement, the plaintiffs – five Israeli families who fell victim to a suicide attack in Jerusalem in 1997 – will share the proceeds from the sale of the seized property, which is worth an estimated $500 million, with hundreds of American terror victims, including victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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Last year U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that Assa Corp., Assa Co. Ltd. and the Alavi Foundation must forfeit all of their assets, including 650 Fifth, subject to litigation brought by the U.S. government. The ruling followed a 2009 lawsuit in which the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office claimed the Alavi Foundation was controlled by Iran.

The victims’ families, backed by human rights attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and the Shurat Hadin law center, had previously sued the Iranian government and a U.S. federal court ultimately awarded them $272 million in 2002.

The new settlement governs that the U.S. government will recoup litigation and sales costs of any of the properties forfeited (including 650 Fifth) and subsequently sold, while the remaining proceeds will be distributed to the plaintiffs at a rate based on the unpaid damages from previous judgments.

“Iran will learn that murdering Israelis comes at a high price,” Ms. Darshan-Leitner told Israel Hayom. “We will pursue them until they bear the cost.”

Alavi and Assa could still appeal Judge Forrest’s decisions.