Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba are being sued by the family of an American couple and their unborn child who were slain by militants during the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday afternoon last week, alleges wrongful death on behalf of Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who was pregnant at the time. Both were both gunned down at the Chabad Lubavitch in Mumbai.
The Holtzbergs were killed even as their two-year-old son Moshe survived the attack, after being whisked off to safety by his nanny, Sandra Samuel. Reports said that the grandfather of Moshe, who now lives in Israel, was one of the plaintiffs.
Media reports added that the plaintiffs, including the relatives of two other victims of the terror attack, alleged that the ISI had aided the 10 men carrying out the commando-style attacks that left more than 160 people dead. An extract from the lawsuit reportedly said that the ISI had “provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination for the attacks.”
Speaking to The Hindu, James Kreindler, lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said: “We have sued both the LeT, the leaders of LeT, the ISI and top ISI people, who have been identified as being involved in providing support to LeT.” He clarified that the government of Pakistan had not been sued.
Mr. Kreindler explained that under the United States' anti-terrorism law, the plaintiffs had the right to sue the defendants in the U.S. Noting that this lawsuit represented “nearly all of the U.S. victims,” of the attack, Mr. Kreindler said that the civil suit sought compensatory and punitive damages of over $75,000, the jurisdictional limit for filings in federal courts.
Mr. Kreindler said: “Obviously, Pakistan is an ally of the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan and our efforts to fight Al-Qaeda... We know, however, that ISI has straddled some fences and while Pakistan is certainly cooperating with us, the ISI has used [LeT] for its own purposes.”
While the U.S. and Pakistan had a “complicated relationship,” the case had been presented in a “responsible, non-inflammatory and low-key way,” and it would also serve a public function in terms of the fight against terror, he said.
Mr. Kreindler is renowned for his success in leading a civil suit against the government of Libya and its intelligence agencies following the 1988 Lockerbie bombing case, in which a bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, killing 270 people on board.