MANHATTAN (CN) – Amid data-driven testimony from a terrorism expert, a federal jury heard Wednesday about a 2002 suicide bomber who went “to Paradise with Reebok shoes.”
Sa’id Ramadan and his sneakers emerged as Israeli judge advocate Nick Kaufman testified about the convictions of various accomplices in six different attacks between 2001 and 2004 that killed dozens and injured hundreds.
Kent Yalowitz, an attorney representing American families injured in those Jerusalem attacks during the Second Intifada, called Kaufman to the stand for the second day of what’s expected to be a six-week trial against the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.
Kaufman said Ramadan had been driven on Jan. 22, 2002, to a busy intersection in downtown Jerusalem for his mission: shoot and kill as many civilians as possible.
As he crouched in the back of the Isuzu, an M-16 machine gun in one hand and three magazines in his other, Ramadan complained that the new shoes he bought for the mission were too tight, according to the trial documents.
That’s when Mohammed Abdullah, one of the two men who drove him there, pulled off his shoes and handed them over.
“Go up to Paradise with Reebok shoes,” Abdullah told the gunman, according to the court documents read by Kaufman.
Ramadan then got out, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and opened fire, killing two elderly women and injuring 45 others before police shot and killed him.
Kaufman quoted the man who was convicted of setting up the bombing, Ahmed Barghouti, as saying during his trial, “I have no regrets.”
“That’s rather prosaic,” Kaufman said, as he described a series of convictions tied to each of the six attacks.
Although the courtroom was standing-room only and full of victims’ families when the trial opened on Tuesday, there were no families in the courtroom on Wednesday.
Surviving victims of the attacks are expected to testify in the coming weeks.
Yalowitz will try to prove that the attacks were carried out at the orders of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
But Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Mark Rochon, who represents the PLO and the PA, asserted during his opening statement Tuesday that PLO and PA staffers can be tied to only three of the six attacks that the trial will consider.
“This will come as no surprise: Not all Palestinians are alike,” Rochon said during opening arguments. “In our system of justice, we do not have something called guilt by association.”
The PLO was created in 1964, three years before Israel’s war with Jordan, Egypt and Syria that led to military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The PA was formed in ’90s as part of the Oslo Accords.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels is presiding over the trial before a jury of six women and six men, who will determine if the PLO and the PA bankrolled the operations and provided supplies to the terrorists.
Yalowitz filed a $1 billion lawsuit nearly a decade ago. The lead plaintiff in the case, Mark Sokolow, is a lawyer who escaped the south tower of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, only to later survive a bombing in Jerusalem.
Sokolow and his family were among 150 injured on Jan. 27, 2002, when a woman named Yafa Idris arrived at a busy downtown street in Jerusalem and blew herself in the middle of the day. There was one fatality, an 81-year-old man.
The Sokolows suffered “severe burns, shrapnel wounds, fractures and other serious injuries as a result of the explosion,” according to the complaint.
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