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US victims to seek $50mn from ISI, LeT

world Updated: Nov 26, 2010 00:44 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

The families of Americans killed and injured in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai could be seeking to get as much as $50 million in compensation from the government of Pakistan, its spy agency the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which have all been named in a wrongful death suit filed in a New York court.

The ISI and the LeT have been named as defendants in the case and the legal team counseling the families is looking at ways to serve summons on those it wants to appear before the court in the New York borough of Brooklyn. The families of four American victims and one person who was injured are party to the case.

The compensation to be sought is expected to be in the vicinity of $10 million for each of the victims, including rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka who were killed in the attack on the Chabad House. Both were from Brooklyn.

Lead attorney James Kreindler pointed to the settlement of another case, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 by Libyan terrorists in 1988. Twenty years later, the Libyan government paid $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 persons on the ground who were killed in the attack.

"That is the relevant precedent," he said. Kreindler was also involved in that case as well as in another case involving families of those killed on 9/11 in which the Al Qaeda is being sued in New York. According to Kreindler, the Lockerbie bombing case was also relevant in the sense of a government organ being involved in a terror attack; the 26/11 case argues that the ISI directed the 26/11 attacks.

The legal team can also seek to get the testimony of David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, who are in prison in Chicago. Asked if he will have them questioned, Kreindler said, "Probably, but not immediately."

The legal team is currently exploring the way to serve the court’s summons on those it has named in the suit including the current chief of the ISI, several ISI officials involved as well as LeT chief Hafeez Saeed and other members of the outfit.

The summons for the ISI officials will be sent to the agency’s headquarters and the lawyers say they are also collecting addresses for the LeT defendants.

The cooperation of the Indian government in pursuing the case may also be sought. He said, "We will contact all productive sources."