America First Legal (AFL), headed by former Trump Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, has won a “key procedural victory in its lawsuit to stop the Biden Administration from violating the Taylor Force Act by subsidizing terrorism with American tax dollars.”
The small but meaningful victory in the case, brought by Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and others, will give AFL expedited discovery that could uncover US aid intended for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank being unlawfully used to indirectly benefit terrorism. The State Department describes the funding as being at a “high risk” of benefiting Hamas.
This would be a violation of the Taylor Force Act. The 2017 legislation was intended to “cut some aid to Palestinians until they end stipends for terror convicts and families of slain attackers” according to The Times of Israel.
AFL’s brief, filed in August 2023 before the atrocious Hamas attack last weekend, alleges that a FOIA’d production from the Department of State includes “a license application to the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) seeking authorization to conduct official US Government activities in the West Bank and Gaza that might otherwise be prohibited by counterterrorism sanctions regulations.”
The Department of State requests on foreign policy grounds that OFAC issue a specific license for a period of two years authorizing the conduct of the official business of the U.S. government employees, grantees, or contractors thereof in the West Bank and Gaza that would otherwise be prohibited by the Global Terrorist Sanctions Regulations and Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Sanctions Regulations to support the Administration’s foreign policy objectives.
To explain its “need for an OFAC License,” the Dept. of State averred that:
…Due to its overall strength and level of control over Gaza, we assess there is a high
risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S.
assistance to Gaza. There is less but still some risk U.S. assistance would
benefit other designated groups.
What the Dept. of State meant by the phrase “indirect, unintentional benefit” is unclear. However, what is clear is that the Department of State believed it needed “maximum flexibility” to circumvent anti-terrorism sanctions and laws to carry out the Biden Administration’s plans for using U.S. taxpayer funds to build a Palestinian state.
AFL Senior Counsel Reed Rubenstein, in a press release, stated:
“To defend our lawsuit, the Defendants claimed that Congress and the Supreme Court have it all wrong – money is not fungible, and material support for terror groups and regimes is not the feedstock for atrocities. But State Department documents show otherwise, and that the Biden Administration clearly knew U.S. dollars would benefit Hamas and subsidize terrorism. This Court Order opens the door to answers and accountability.“
The Taylor Force Act stems from a 2004 Palestinian Authority (PA) policy known was “Amended Palestinian Prisoner Law No. 19”. According to the Modern War Institute at West Point, the law “was constructed to support anyone who was jailed by Israel for ‘participation in the struggle against the occupation‘ and considers such individuals ‘an integral part of the fabric of Arab Palestinian society.‘”
The MWI publication discloses that the PA policy would waive health insurance payments, tuition at state-run colleges and professional training programs, and potentially lead to a government job when released from prison. Additionally, an Israeli-Arab who “commits a terrorist act sufficient to land him or her in an Israeli prison for thirty years” would earn $39,000/year while incarcerated. This would be a huge financial incentive as the per capita GDP in the West Bank is around $2,800, according to the MWI.
These “pay for slay” payments by the PA are reportedly around $300 million per year, which, purely by coincidence, is the amount the US was giving to Palestine in annual foreign aid at the time of MWI’s publication in 2017. President Trump reduced this foreign aid by $200 million in 2018.
In August 2021, the New York Post addressed the 2001 Sbarro’s Pizza-shop bombing that murdered 15 people, including 7 children and US citizen Malki Roth, and injured 130 others. According to the Post, the PA has paid the suicide bomber’s family more than $53,000, the “mastermind” $52,000, and the bomb maker more than $213,000. The bombing mastermind, Ahlam Tamimi, was freed in a 2011 prisoner swap and now lives in Jordan despite US warrants for her and a $5 million bounty.
Attorneys Viva Frei and Robert Barnes discuss the case here: