Victims have been awarded $1 billion in compensation for a deadly 1985 terrorist attack on airports in Rome and Vienna that a judge found was linked to the Syrian government.
A US Magistrate Judge, John M. Facciola, issued the award against Syria after concluding that the attacks by the Abu Nidal Organization could not have taken place “without Syria’s direct support.” The judgement will go to 26 victims, including estates and family members, with each being awarded $1 billion.
One of those victims awarded the $1 billion includes Victor L. Simpson, Rome bureau chief for The Associated Press. His 11-year-old daughter was killed in the attack on Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport, while he and son Michael were also injured.
The terrorist attack took place on December 27, as four gunmen walked to a ticket counter for Israel’s El Al Airlines and Trans World Airlines in Rome’s airport, firing assault rifles and throwing hand grenades. They managed to kill 16 people and wound 99 others before three attackers were killed and the remaining one was wounded and captured.
Shortly afterward, a separate attack took place at Schwechat Airport in Vienna, Austria. Three terrorists carried out a similar attack, killing three and wounding 39.
Some believe that attacks were meant to be part of a larger plot, as the terrorists intended to hijack airplanes and blow them up in Tel Aviv.
The attacks were carried out by Abu Nidal Organization in retaliation for Operation Wounded Leg, the Israeli bombing of PLO headquarters in 1985.
The victims awarded $1 billion are unlikely to see the money, The Associated Press noted. It will be difficult to collect, and Syria is considered unlikely to pay it.