Father suing Iran for daughters death in Gaza bus attack

NEW YORK — Stephen Flatow is preparing a multimillion-dollar suit against the government of Iran, seeking damages for the death of his daughter Alisa, killed last year in a terrorist attack in Gaza.

"We are going to show that there is a price to pay for providing funding to kill Jews," Flatow told The Jerusalem Post.

This would be the first suit filed in the United States, under new anti-terror legislation, against a sovereign state for sponsoring terrorism, said Steven Perles, Flatow's attorney. President Bill Clinton signed the legislation last month.

Alisa, a 20-year-old Brandeis University junior from West Orange, N.J., was killed in the April 1995 terror attack by the Islamic Jihad on an Egged bus at Kfar Darom.

"The criminal prosecution of terrorism against U.S. nationals abroad has been singularly unsuccessful," Perles said Friday of last week.

However, he added, a civil case should be easier because it has somewhat lighter requirements for proving guilt. "I am pretty confident we can win, although it will be a long process," he said.

The Flatow suit could publicly expose some of the links long alleged between Tehran and terror groups. Perles will attempt to prove that Islamic Jihad undertook the Kfar Darom act and that Iran is the sponsor of Islamic Jihad's activities.

He told the Post that he will rely on witnesses who are experts on terrorism. The burden will then shift to Iran to prove it is not sponsoring terror.

In general, sovereign states cannot be sued for their conduct against Americans. However, Perles said, the new U.S. anti-terror law allows a sovereign state to be sued in the United States if that state sponsors a terror group that conducts activities that result in the death of an American.

Perles, who will file the suit shortly, successfully represented Holocaust survivor Hugo Princz in his years-long legal battle to have Germany provide reparations for his confinement at Auschwitz. Much of Princz's fight dealt with his right to sue the sovereign state of Germany.

Flatow has been a tireless advocate against terror since his daughter's death. With the suit, Perles said, "he wants to make the cost of terror against U.S. nationals so great that no one will ever again perpetrate these kinds of acts. He wants Alisa's death to serve as a deterrent against terror."