In 2002, Dr. Alan Bauer was seriously wounded in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002. The bomber, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, blew himself up in a crowded shopping district, injuring 42 people and killing 3 others, including a woman pregnant with twins.
In 2011, Dr. Bauer filed a civil suit in the Manhattan federal district court seeking to impound 14 vessels which were outfitted to be used in the 2010 Mavi Marmara Flotilla – which set off from Turkey in order to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip – on the grounds that the funding for the ships was raised illegally in the United States.
The act of fund-raising, in being used for hostilities against a US ally, constituted a violation of American law: the rarely used 18th century “informant statute”, which allows that a plaintiff (referred to as an “informer”) is entitled to privately seize vessels outfitted in the US for use against a US ally. The law allows both criminal and civil penalties for anyone outfitting any vessel intending hostilities against a foreign state with which the United States is at peace.
The district court that originally heard the case dismissed it, stating that the US government — and not Dr. Bauer — was the only authority capable of seizing the boats. In September 2014, Bauer appealed, arguing that the lower court had erred in not realizing that a provision in the act allows private informers to sue. Dr. Bauer has also sent a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the U.S. Justice Department investigate and proceed to criminally prosecute the parties involved, but US Chief Prosecutor refused to pursue the matter.
The outcome of this case could quite possibly establish a legal precedent which would impede the ability of terror groups and organizations from using the United States as a fundraising base, be it for operations against Israel or any other US ally.