MANHATTAN (CN) – The family of Meier Kahane, a radical rabbi who was assassinated in 1990, seeks enforcement of a $350 million judgment against Iran. Kahane’s family, and the families of two men who were wounded with him, sued Iranian-owned Assa Corp., the Alavi Foundation and its Alavi building on 5th Avenue, which federal prosecutors already have seized in a money laundering case.
According to the federal complaint from the Kahane family and the families of Irving Franklin and Carlos Acosta, El Sayyid Nosair shot Kahane to death and seriously wounded the two other men on Nov. 5, 1990 in New York.
Kahane, a founder of the Jewish Defense League, claimed a “second Holocaust” was coming in the United States, and he urged Jews to flee to Israel. He also founded Kach, an Israeli political party, which was outlawed after a follower murdered 29 Muslims at a mosque in 1994.
Kahane was shot after delivering a lecture at the Marriott Hotel on the East Side of Manhattan.
Kahane’s estate and the families of the other men say they won a $350 million judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security for those shootings. Acosta was a U.S. Postal Service policeman; Franklin was just attending the lecture, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say their judgment should be garnished under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act from New York-based Alavi Foundation, Assa Corp., and 650 Fifth Avenue.
Assa is owned by Iran’s Bank Melli, which the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control calls a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs claim Alavi is a front for Iran with a longstanding history of sponsoring Iranian terrorist activities. Alavi partnered with Assa to create 650 Fifth Ave. and evade paying federal income tax on rental income, according to the complaint. Federal investigators say Assa and the 650 Fifth Avenue building became “straw owners” of Alavi when they paid off the foundation’s mortgage in exchange for becoming partners in its building and revenue.
When a grand jury began subpoenaed Alavi’s records, the foundation’s president, Farshid Jahedi, shredded and tried to dispose of English and Farsi documents from his office. Jahedi was arrested and pleaded guilty to two felony counts, including obstruction of justice, according to the complaint.
Alavi’s director from 1983 to 1992 was the son of an ayatollah who oversaw the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines, according to the complaint. The foundation is also said to have given $1.4 million to a Brooklyn mosque belonging to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Rahman used to lead Al-Gam’aa Islamiyah, the terrorist organization to which Nosair belonged when he shot Kahane, Franklin and Acosta, according to the complaint.
(Ironically, the Alavi Foundation is a successor to the Pahlavi Foundation, which was owned or directed by former Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was restored to the Peacock Throne after a CIA-engineered coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaddegh in 1953. Pahlavi was ousted by the 1979 coup led by Muslim hardliners who still rule Iran.)
The plaintiffs seek an order compelling Alavi, Assa and 650 Fifth Avenue to turn over any real and personal property. They are represented by Curtis Mechling with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.