51 Members Of Congress Urge Ashcroft: Arrest Bethlehem Killers Of American
May 30, 2002

NEW YORK – Fifty-one members of Congress have written to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, urging him to indict and extradite two of the Palestinian Arab terrorists from Bethlehem who were involved in the murder of an American citizen.

Ibrahim Abayat and Jihad Ja’ara, both members of Yasir Arafat’s Fatah terrorist group, were involved in the January 15, 2002 murder of 72 year-old U.S. citizen Avi Boaz. Abayat and Ja’ara were among the terrorists who occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last month. They are now residing in Europe.

The co-sponsors of the Congressional letter to Ashcroft were U.S. Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. J.D.Hayworth (R-OK), House Majority Leader Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which worked closely with Congress on the letter, strongly praised Representatives Engel, Hayworth, Armey, and Weiner for their “courageous and principled efforts to bring Palestinian Arab killers of Americans to justice.”

Sarah Stern, director of the ZOA’s Capitol Hill office, added: “These two killers of Americans are now living in Europe, within easy reach of U.S. law enforcement officials. This is a golden opportunity for the Bush administration to capture and prosecute two terrorists who murdered an American citizen. Will the administration fulfill its legal obligation to arrest them—or it will continue the deplorable policy of the Clinton administration of granting de-facto immunity to terrorists who are affiliated with, or under the protection of, Yasir Arafat…?”

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We are writing to urge you to take immediate steps to seek the extradition of two Palestinians sent into ‘exile’ from the Church of the Nativity so that they stand trial for the murder of American citizen Avi Boaz of Brooklyn, New York. There is very strong evidence that Ibrahim Moussa Salem Abayat and Jihad Youssef Khalil Ja’ara directed and took part in the abduction and murder of the 72 year-old Boaz near Bethlehem on January 15, 2002. The Justice Department must not allow these terrorists to escape justice for this heinous act against an innocent American.

U.S. law —specifically 18 U.S.C. 2331 and 2332— makes it a crime to kill or injure, or to conspire to kill or injure, an American national outside the U.S. in furtherance of a terrorist cause—even if Americans were not the intended targets. The law further provides that prosecutions shall be undertaken only with the “written certification of the Attorney General.

In Congressional testimony last September, you said: “The fight against terrorism is now the highest priority of the Department of Justice.” As part of that effort, DOJ won an indictment against Sheik Omar Saeed, the mastermind behind Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s execution and the kidnapping of American Bela Nuss in India in 1994. More recently, DOJ also won an indictment against six members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on charges of murder in the deaths of three Americans.

We believe that Americans killed by Palestinian terrorists in Israel are equally deserving of justice and that DOJ’s fight against terror should extend to all U.S. victims of terror. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to instruct the DOJ to seek extradition of these two terrorists so they can be tried in a U.S. court.

The letter was also signed by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX); U.S. Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA), Ranking Democratic Member of the House International Relations Committee; Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Howard Berman (D-CA); John Boozman (R-AZ), Kevin Brady (R-TX); Bob Clement (D-TN); Howard Coble (R-NC); Phil Crane (R-IL); Joe Crowley (D-NY); John Culberson (R-TX); William Delahunt (D-MA), Bob Ehrlich (R-MD); Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Randy Forbes (R-VA); Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Sam Graves (R-MO); Felix Grucci (R-NY); Steve Israel (D-NY); Sam Johnson (R-TX); Jack Kingston (R-GA); Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ); Nita Lowey (D-NY); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Mike McNulty (D-NY); George Miller (D-CA); Jeff Miller (R-FL); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Tom Osborne (R-NE); Butch Otter (R-ID); Mike Pence (R-IN); Joseph Pitts (R-PA); Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Jim Saxton (R-NJ); Adam Schiff (D-CA); Ed Schrock (R-VA); Pete Sessions (R-TX); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Chris Smith (R-NJ); Mark Souder (R-IN); John Sullivan (R-OK); Pat Tiberi (R-OH); Greg Walkden (R-OR); Henry Waxman (D-CA); Dave Weldon (R-FL); and Zach Wamp (R-TN).

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