American victims of the 1972 Lod Airport terrorist attack go to a federal court in Puerto Rico today to try holding the North Korean regime responsible for its role in supporting acts of international terrorism.
In May 1972, terrorists from the Japanese Red Army (JRA), in concert with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) carried out a devastating attack on Lod Airport in Israel. The terrorists placed automatic weapons, ammunition, and grenades in their luggage and upon arriving in Israel opened fire, killing 26 people and wounding 80. Many of the American victims of the attack, including the named plaintiffs in the litigation Carmelo Calderon-Molina and Pablo Tirado-Ayala, were Christian pilgrims visiting holy sites for the first time.
Both the JRA and the PFLP publicly claimed credit for the attack, in which two of the three JRA terrorists were killed. According to the complaint, however, the attack could not have happened without the weapons and financial and logistical support provided by North Korea, a country that was designated by the U.S. State Department in 1988 as a state sponsor of terrorism.
As the State Department has recognized, "without state sponsors, terrorist groups would have much more difficulty obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and secure areas they require to plan and conduct operations." In this case, lawyers for the plaintiff will argue that in the months up to the massacre, JRA and PFLP met with North Korean officials who provided:
"Military and other training; training bases; facilities for, inter alia, training, storage of weapons and explosives and the maintenance and operation of a leadership command and operational infrastructure; safe haven; lodging; means of communication and communications equipment; financial services, including banking and wire transfer services; and means of transportation."
Although the plaintiffs are likely to be victorious in this battle, it remains to be seen whether they will ever be compensated for their injuries. As we have previously reported, a major hurdle in similar suits against the Iranian regime has been recovering damages.
The complaint in Calderon-Cardona v. Democratic People's Republic of Korea, can be found here.
For background on civil suits against state sponsors of terrorism see here.