The Anti-Terrorism Act – which grafts civil remedies onto criminal statutes aimed at international attacks by militant groups – is confusing. As U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan of Brooklyn explained Wednesday in an opinion upholding a jury verdict of liability under the ATA against Jordan-based Arab Bank, the civil provisions “are derived from a complicated series of incorporations by reference” from the criminal laws – not, in other words, the easiest statutory texts for judges to interpret.
One of the most hotly contested disputes in ATA litigation is what plaintiffs must show to establish that their injuries occurred “by reason of” the defendant’s actions, which is the language the ATA uses. Must victims of terror attacks prove that the attacks would not have taken place but for the material support defendants provided to the groups that executed the operations? Or that the defendant’s material support led directly to the attacks? Or both?
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