- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

A federal judge in Washington yesterday ruled for the families of U.S. service members killed or injured in a 1983 suicide bombing of their Marine barracks in Beirut and ordered special masters to determine damages against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

U.S. Judge Royce Lamberth also said he would consider imposing punitive damages against the Islamic Republic and its Ministry of Information and Security.

In his 30-page opinion, Judge Lamberth conceded “that some may question the utility of the present suit.”

Exacting damages from Iran, or even getting tens of millions of dollars from frozen Iranian accounts in the United States, may prove problematic, and the Bush administration may oppose the damage awards as interfering with U.S. foreign policy.

However, Judge Lamberth said he could at least “take steps that will punish the men who carried out this unspeakable attack, and in so doing, try to achieve some small measure of justice for its survivors, and for the family members of the 241 Americans who never came home.”

The judge’s ruling came in a case consolidating two suits filed by survivors of the U.S. service members and those who were injured in the suicide bombing.

“These actions arise from the most deadly state-sponsored terrorist attack made against American citizens prior to September 11, 2001: the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, on Oct. 23, 1983,” Judge Lamberth said.

“In the early morning hours of that day, 241 American servicemen were murdered in their sleep by a suicide bomber,” he added. “On that day, an unspeakable horror invaded the lives of those who survived the attack and the family members whose loved ones had been stolen from them. The memory of that horror continues to this day.”

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