After frequent calls on this blog for some action against Sudanese President Omar Bashir, it is welcome news that the US Congress is committing to halt aid to any country that hosts the indicted war criminal.
A US House of Representatives press release reports that the House Appropriations Committee has adopted an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for 2013 to this effect, proposed by Representative Frank Wolf.
In a powerful statement, Wolf noted that the number of countries that still treat Bashir as a dignitary, despite his flouting of an ICC indictment for almost five years:
Bashir, an internationally indicted war criminal, literally has blood on his hands. And yet, unbelievably, he continues to travel the world with virtual impunity. Some countries, like China, go so far as to roll out the diplomatic red carpet for him.
We must not forget that Bashir’s government gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s, and Khartoum was a revolving door for Hamas and other designated terrorist groups.
In a time when the foreign affairs budget is being squeezed, I believe our assistance should be a direct reflection of American values and priorities.
Surely we can all agree that bringing a war criminal to justice is in our national interest. Leveraging our foreign assistance in this way sends a powerful message.
Another breakthrough worth noting is the decision this week by a US District Court for the District of Columbia to award $332 million in damages against Iran and Syria for their role in the murder of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old American who was killed in a suicide bombing in Israel in 2006.
As noted by Jerusalem Post reporter Joanna Paraszczuk, the suit was brought by Wultz’ surviving relatives on the grounds that Iran and Syria had provided material support and resources to terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad in order to enable them to conduct the attack.
The court learned that Daniel had been conscious immediately after the bombing and up until his death, and had suffered extreme physical and emotional pain both because he knew the horrific extent of his injuries and because he was aware he would die from them.
The 16-year-old suffered wounds including severe bleeding from multiple shrapnel wounds, a perforated bowel and multiple infections, including gangrene. …
In finding all of the plaintiffs responsible for providing the material support that led to the suicide bombing, [Justice] Lamberth said the evidence established that Islamic Jihad “acted generally as an agent of the Iranian and Syrian defendants” and that “their financing, encouragement and instruction prompted [the attack].”
“When a state chooses to use terror as a policy tool – as Iran and Syria continue to do – that state forfeits its sovereign immunity and deserves unadorned condemnation,” he said in his ruling.
While the two states are unlikely to pay the settlement at this point, the US Congress may soon pass a law allowing Iranian assets in the US to be seized for the purpose of paying these kinds of claims.
This would be a significant step in helping the victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.