WASHINGTON [MENL] — The United States has opened an office to track those who kill Americans abroad in what was deemed terrorist attacks.
The Justice Department has established the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism to monitor investigations and prosecute killers of Americans in terrorist strikes. The office was part of a bill passed by Congress in 2004 to pursue terrorists who target Americans.
A department statement said the office would be responsible for “monitoring the investigation and prosecution of terrorists who attack Americans abroad.” The office would work with other agencies in the Justice Department as well as the FBI.
Officials said the office would compile data on terrorist attacks and respond to congressional inquiries regarding the killing of Americans overseas. The office would also file reports with Congress regarding prosecution of alleged terrorists.
“This new office guarantees a voice for victims and their families in the investigation and prosecution of terrorists who prey on Americans overseas,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said. “Our commitment to these victims is as strong as our dedication to bringing their terrorist attackers to justice.”
The new office would also establish a joint task force with the State Department. The task force would be activated should Americans come under terrorist attack abroad.
In December 2004, as part of the 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Congress passed the Koby Mandell Act, named after a 13-year-old American killed by Palestinians outside his home in community of Tekoa.
The Zionist Organization of America, which lobbied for the legislation, said 52 a.m.ericans have been killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel since 1993.
In 2003, three U.S. embassy security guards were killed in a Palestinian ambush north of Gaza City. Officials said that despite several appeals, the Palestinian Authority has failed to capture and prosecute the attackers.
“We hope this office can begin to rectify the disappointing lack of U.S. pursuit of Palestinian Arab killers compared to the pursuit of non-Palestinian Arab killers of American citizens,” ZOA president Morton Klein said.