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  • Gates v. Syrian Arab RepublicGates v. Syrian Arab Republic
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Gates v. Syrian Arab Republic

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
580 F. Supp. 2d 53 (2008)


Section 1605A(c) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) creates a private right of action against a foreign nation sponsoring terrorism under limited circumstances for certain damages, including economic, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) beheaded United States civilians Jack Armstrong and Jack Hensley, videotaping and broadcasting the act internationally. Armstrong's and Hensley's next of kin, Francis Gates, Jan Smith, Pat Hensley, and Sara Hensley (plaintiffs) brought suit under § 1605A of the FSIA against the president of Syria, a Syrian general, the Syrian Military Intelligence, and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) (defendants). Armstrong's and Hensley's next of kin contended Syria provided material support and resources to AQI and its leader, contributing to the deaths of Armstrong and Hensley. After none of the defendants answered the allegations, the court entered a default judgment pursuant to § 1608(e) of FSIA and held a hearing to determine liability and damages. During the hearing, Armstrong's and Hensley's next of kin presented evidence establishing that Syria supported AQI by providing recruitment, training, transportation, sanctuary, and financial assistance despite knowledge of AQI's inhuman and violent terrorist acts.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Collyer, J.)

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