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Senators Lankford, Duckworth, Grassley Introduce Bill to Ensure Justice to US Victims of Terrorism

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Senate Finance Committee, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which seeks to provide justice for US victims of international terrorism while promoting the important security cooperation among US, Israeli, and Palestinian security forces. With respect to US victims of terrorism, the bill would strengthen the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which Congress passed without objection last year, to restore US federal court jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for claims by Americans injured or killed by acts of terrorism overseas sponsored by the PA/PLO. The legislation affirms the fundamental principle that normal participation as part of the international community, or engaging in certain conduct here in the United States, demands first answering for prior support for terrorist acts.

“American victims of international terrorism need access to justice and the Palestinian Authority needs our assistance to promote security. This important bill would give victims of terrorism their day in court and promote US security interests in the Middle East by improving our nation’s engagement with Palestinian security forces, a relationship highly praised and valued by the Israeli Government. Given the urgency for justice and security in the Middle East, I urge my Senate colleagues to work to pass this bipartisan legislation as soon as possible.” 

“In the last 30 years, Congress repeatedly and unanimously voted to open the courthouse doors to American victims of international terrorism. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority chose to dodge accountability in US courts, harming its own people and goodhearted aid organizations in the process. This legislation promotes access to justice for American victims of terrorism while restoring essential security and humanitarian support that the PA blocked in retaliation for bipartisan congressional action.  It has the blessing of the State Department and American victims, and I urge all of my colleagues to again show their support,” Grassley said.

The bill is designed to ensure access to courts for Americans who were injured or killed by acts of terrorism while abroad. Recent federal court decisions created loopholes in longstanding US anti-terrorism law, allowing certain foreign actors to evade US court jurisdiction when they support or carry out acts of terrorism against American citizens. The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act seek to close these loopholes.

Lankford is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which he serves on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee.