Within the Department of Justice, the FBI serves as the lead agency for investigating federal terrorism offenses, and the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices have lead responsibility for prosecuting such offenses. OVT does not have investigative or prosecutorial responsibilities. OVT’s efforts to identify victims, monitor cases, and protect victims’ rights, however, ensure that victims' cases and issues remain a priority with investigators and prosecutors. Through its advocacy on behalf of victims and in serving as a bridge between victims and decision-makers, OVT makes a valuable contribution to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses domestically and abroad. In doing so, OVT promotes justice for the victims of overseas terrorism as a primary Department goal. Recent examples of OVT accomplishments include:
U.S. Government’s Hostage Policy Review Committee
On June 24, 2015, President Obama formally issued a new Presidential Policy Directive to improve how the United States works to bring home American hostages and how we support their families. President Obama also signed a new Executive Order to establish new operational bodies and a new diplomatic position to support that directive.
Victim Family Travel to Frankfurt, Germany
OVT assisted family members and victims during the German prosecution of Arid Uka for murdering two U.S. servicemen and injuring two others outside the Frankfurt, Germany airport. OVT funded travel expenses for six victim family members to travel to Germany to attend and participate in the German prosecution, provided information to the families concerning proceedings and sentencing options, and assisted in obtaining authorization from U.S. victims to include personal information in a memorandum to foreign prosecutors addressing sentencing aggravating factors. The German court ultimately sentenced the defendant to the maximum sentence available after finding aggravating factors supporting such a sentence.
OVT Accompaniment and Victim Family Travel to Israel
OVT funded travel expenses for a victim’s parents to attend several court proceedings in the Israeli prosecution of Iyad Fatafa and Kifah Ghneimat for the murder of an American citizen in Israel. OVT’s Attorney Advisor accompanied the parents to Israel and assisted during meetings with the Israeli prosecutors, a visit to the crime scene, development of a victim impact statement for presentation to the Israeli court, and a meeting with managers of the Israeli victim compensation program. The defendants were sentenced to life plus twenty years and two life sentences, respectively.
OVT Accompaniment and Victim Family Travel to West Bank
OVT funded travel expenses for a victim’s parent to attend several court proceedings in the West Bank-Judea Military Court for the murder of an American citizen in the West Bank. OVT’s Director and Attorney Advisor accompanied the parent to a court proceeding in the West Bank. One defendant was sentence to two life sentences plus 58 years, while an individual convicted of an after the fact theft received 10 months.
Notification to the Victims of the 2009 Hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia
OVT maintained a password-protected website for U.S. victims of the July 17, 2009 J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia. The website provided regular updates on the ongoing prosecution of 17 defendants tried for their role in that crime.
Notification to the Victims of the 2010 bombings in Kampala, Uganda
OVT maintains a password-protected website for U.S. victims of the July 11, 2010 bombings in Kampala, Uganda. The website provides regular updates on the ongoing prosecution of the defendants being tried for their role in that crime.
Intensive Support for Bali Bombing Trial
OVT maintained a password-protected website for U.S. victims of the 2002 Bali, Indonesia bombings that provided regular updates on the prosecution of Umar Patek for his role in that crime. OVT also provided information on U.S. crime-victim rights to Indonesian officials and worked with ten U.S. citizen victims or their families to draft, notarize, and properly format victim-impact statements. OVT supported the travel of one U.S. citizen survivor of the bombings to testify at the trial in Jakarta. During his testimony, he provided photos, medical records, and the victim-impact statements from ten of the U.S. victims to the judges.
Information for Victims of Mumbai Attacks
OVT maintains a password-protected website for the U.S. victims of the November 2008 Mumbai, India attacks. The website monitors the prosecutions going on in both India and Pakistan. In the only U.S. prosecution based on the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, OVT used its password-protected website to notify victims of the indictment of American, David Headley, for his role in planning that crime.
Achille Lauro Support
OVT introduced the family of a U.S. citizen killed in the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship to those investigating and prosecuting an arms supplier suspected of having supplied the hijackers in a case involving unrelated charges being prosecuted in a U.S. District Court. Thereafter, Victim Witness Coordinator staff in the U.S. Attorney’s Office assisted the victims in connection with court proceedings.
Assistance for Victims of Al Qaeda Atacks
OVT assisted U.S. victims of overseas attacks attributed to al Qaeda in connection with Military Commission proceedings. OVT maintained a webpage for victims of al Qaeda attacks, supported victim access to proceedings being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and coordinated meetings between government officials and victims. Al Qaeda-attributed overseas attacks include the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, the East Africa Embassy bombings, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2003 Jakarta, Indonesia hotel bombings, and the kidnap and murder of a U.S. citizen journalist in Pakistan.