In Historic Ruling, Court Finds Iran, Syria and Iranian Banks Responsible for Murder of American Citizen in Israel

Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP and MM~LAW LLC won a significant victory in the fight against terrorism yesterday, with a finding in the U.S. Federal court that Syria, Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and three Iranian banks (Markazi, Melli, and Saderat) were all liable for Hamas’ brutal murder of American Eitam and his wife Naama Henkin in 2015.

This marks the first time that the courts have found Banks Markazi, Melli or Saderat liable for a terror attack by a foreign terrorist organization against a U.S. national. The verdict was announced yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, with the Honorable Judge Royce C. Lamberth presiding.

Eitam and Naama Henkin were driving in Israel’s West Bank with their four children – then aged nine, seven, four, and ten months – when Hamas terrorists attacked them and killed them in front of their children. The children survived because their father Eitam, who was a citizen of the United States, and their mother, Naama, fought with the armed terrorists to save their lives. During the brawl, the gun held by the terrorist struggling with Naama fired killing Eitam and wounding the terrorist struggling with Eitam.

The orphaned children and the estates of their parents filed suit in 2019 under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a law used by U.S. victims of attacks by foreign terrorist organizations and their close family members to bring claims against state sponsors of terrorism, government agencies, and any commercial instrumentalities of those states. None of the defendants responded to the lawsuit.

The court’s lengthy ruling yesterday found that Iran and its proxies are liable under U.S. law for the murder of U.S. citizen Eitam Henkin, and liable under Israeli law for the harm suffered by Naama and the children stemming from Eitam’s murder.

“There is no doubt that this horrific, murderous act was sponsored by Syria, Iran, and Iranian state-sponsored organizations, and the court’s ruling yesterday sends a loud and clear message that financiers of terrorism will be held responsible for their despicable actions,” said Jonathan Missner, Managing Partner of Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP. “The Iranian banks, including Iran’s central bank, Markazi, have never before been held accountable so this is a huge step forward when it comes to holding foreign actors to account for the murder of Americans.”

“We are gratified that the United States justice system worked as it should in providing an avenue for recourse for the children of Eitam and Naama,” added Stein Mitchell attorney Michael Petrino.

Gavriel Mairone of MM~LAW LLC stated that “financing is the oxygen needed for terrorism. Bank Markazi, serves as both the Central Bank of Iran and the Central Bank for financing international terrorism directed against Americans and our allies. The Treasury Dept. has sanctioned Melli and Saderat as facilitators and financiers of international terrorists such as Hamas and Hizballah.”

The court will determine monetary damages in a later proceeding.

About Stein Michell Beato & Missner LLP
Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP combines the skills of seasoned trial lawyers with the flexibility and personal touch of a dynamic law firm to achieve extraordinary results for their clients. They are recognized as “the small firm that takes on big cases and wins.” Their well-earned reputation as a top-tier litigation firm with a national and international practice rests not only on our fifty-year history of success, but also on the on-going confidence of their clients who entrust them with their most complex and challenging legal matters.

About MM~LAW LLC

Since 2000, MM~LAW has represented over 15,000 victims of international terrorism and genocide, obtaining judgments in U.S. courts in excess of $9.8 billion, collecting over $1.5 billion, and continuing to pursue collection on unsatisfied judgments. MM~LAW represents over 2800 Gold Star Families and veterans in lawsuits against European and Iranian banks pending in courts in New York and Washington D.C. as well as over 13,000 victims of chemical weapons attacks in lawsuits pending in France and Iraq against weapons suppliers to rogue regimes.

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