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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Syria Ordered to Pay|Bombing Victims $300M

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge held the Syrian government liable Tuesday for the 2005 suicide bombing in Jordan that left a 9-year-old girl and a bank chairman dead.

The two American citizens, Lina Mansoor Thuneibat and Mousab Ahmad Khorma, were among 57 killed on Nov. 9, 2005, when al-Qaida terrorists wearing suicide bomb belts blew up three Amman, Jordan, hotels: the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt, and Days Inn.

More than 100 were wounded in the attacks, which U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found Syria financed and supported.

Thuneibat and Khorma's families sued Syria in 2012 for wrongful death, seeking $1.5 billion in damages. In his 48-page opinion, Judge Howell clipped the original amount sought and awarded each of the family's estates more than $150 million.

"The defendants' conduct in providing material support to the terrorist group that perpetrated the attacks here is indeed outrageous, and the results are indisputably tragic," the opinion states. "The conduct here, however, is not more outrageous and the results are not more tragic than the events at issue in other cases."

Thuneibat, a 9-year-old student in private school, was in the Radisson's ballroom during the attack, attending her cousin's wedding.

The girl's mother, Nadira, was outside the ballroom during the explosion and rushed in to find her daughter and her uncle dead.

"She waded through the chaos after the suicide bomber detonated his bomb belt in the middle of a wedding party and saw guests decapitated and disemboweled," the opinion states.

Khorma, a 39-year-old deputy chairman of Cairo Amman Bank, was one of 10 killed in the Grand Hyatt's lobby when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb.

The attack was planned by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who took credit for the coordinated bombing a few days later and lamented that the attack didn't result in more deaths.

Zarqawi was killed by U.S. jets in 2006.

"These suicide bombers were trained, funded, and sent by Zarqawi and his organization AQI, which received material support and resources from the defendants," Judge Howell wrote.

The opinion quotes senior Syrian officials at the time of the attack as saying Syria wanted to see U.S.-led forces defeated in Iraq, and it makes mention of Syrian Ba'ath Party official Fawzi Mutlaz al Rawi's ties to terrorist groups.

Nadira Thuneibat claimed in the lawsuit that the shock of her daughter's death caused her depression, eating disorder, and for her menstrual cycle to stop.

Thuneibat's son has since become withdrawn and has been pulled from school, requiring private, one-on-one tutoring, according to the ruling.

Khorma's mother said her son's death made her a recluse.

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