Israeli flag
A damaged Israeli flag continued to fly at Kibbutz Nir Oz following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre. (Ilia Yefimovich/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

ADL joins with legal powerhouse to seek compensation for U.S. victims of Oct. 7 massacre

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

(JTA) — WASHINGTON — The Anti-Defamation League’s legal team is joining with a top-ranked American legal firm to seek compensation for U.S. victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre in Israel.

Theirs will be the latest of multiple lawsuits in the United States targeting entities that lawyers say abetted or profited from the atrocities.

The lawsuit filed Monday by ADL and the Crowell and Moring law firm accuses Iran, Syria and North Korea of abetting the terrorists, who murdered some 1,200 people on Oct. 7, wounded thousands more and abducted more than 250 people.

The plaintiffs are basing their action on a 2015 law that is meant to compensate victims of state-sponsored terrorism through criminal penalties and seized assets.

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of antisemitism and terror — along with Syria and North Korea, they must be held responsible for their roles in the largest antisemitic attack since the Holocaust,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said in a press release.

“It’s about finding justice for the victims and their families, and putting all the weight behind this case, because what we’re talking about is the largest and most deadly and systematic attack since the Holocaust,” James Pasch, the lead ADL counsel in the case, said in an interview. “The world should know who was responsible for providing support for this heinous terrorist attack and hear the stories of the victims and the families of the victims.”

Iran funds and trains Hamas. The terrorist group’s leaders have for decades had close dealings with Syria’s Assad regime. The lawyers say they will produce evidence that those two countries and North Korea provided material support to Hamas in carrying out the Oct. 7 attack.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The 2015 law requires fines levied on state sponsors of terrorism to be streamed into a fund for their victims. The federal government has in recent years directed just a fraction of the money obtained from such fines into the fund.

The lawyers are simultaneously working with a bipartisan slate of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a law that would tighten that measure to ensure a substantial portion of the monies reach the fund.

The sponsors include Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Dan Goldman of New York and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, all of whom are Jewish. Other sponsors include New York Republican Reps. Mike Lawler and Nicole Malliotakis and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

A source close to the case noted that there should be ample funds available to victims, pointing to $4 billion exacted in November from cryptocurrency fund Binance and its CEO for illegal dealings with Iran and Syria, among others.

The lawsuit is the latest in a number of high-profile attempts to get civil relief in U.S. courts for victims of the attack, applying a number of legal strategies. This case is notable for the inclusion of Crowell and Moring, which is consistently ranked high among top-earning firms, and which employs dozens of former federal government officials.

“Each of the more than 100 plaintiffs in this suit is a U.S. citizen, or the family member of a U.S. citizen, and is therefore eligible to bring suit for the deaths, physical and emotional injuries, and hostage-takings Hamas caused during its barbaric rampage,” the ADL release said.

It quotes Nahar Neta, the son of Adriennne Neta, a U.S. born midwife who was among those murdered on Oct. 7.

“My mom devoted her life to caring for others regardless of race or religious beliefs,” said Neta. “She was a peace and justice seeker who was active in many civilian efforts to bridge the gap between Jews and Arabs in Israel.”

Ron Kampeas

Ron Kampeas is the D.C. bureau chief at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.