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Judge Says Detained Hammas Politician Can Be Extradited

By John M. Goshko
The Washington Post

A federal judge here ruled Wednesday that detained Palestinian leader Mousa Abu Marzook can be extradited to Israel, which wants to try him for murder and terrorism.

Marzook has been held since July after being identified by U.S. immigration authorities as a leading figure in the militant Islamic group Hamas, which has carried out suicide bombings and other actions designed to derail the peace process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Marzook contended he was a Hamas political official with no authority over the militants who staged the bombings.

"There is more than sufficient evidence to show that Abu Marzook was a member of the conspiracy known as Hamas and that the (violent) actions charged against him were foreseeable consequences of the conspiracy," U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Duffy said in rebuffing Marzook's efforts to avoid extradition. He ordered that Marzook be kept in federal detention until a final determination is made about turning him over to Israeli authorities.

Under U.S. law, Marzook's case now is supposed to be referred to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who must decide whether to send Marzook to Israel. However, Marzook's attorney, Stanley Cohen, said he intends to pursue the appeal routes available to his client, and that could lead to lengthy new delays before the case is resolved.

Specifically, Marzook can ask the federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus, which would require the court to determine if proper jurisdiction has been observed and whether Marzook's constitutional rights were respected. If the court rules against him on those grounds, he then could take his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over New York.

Marzook, 45, most recently had lived in Virginia with his wife, Nadia, and three sons. He was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport 10 months ago when he sought to re-enter the country from the United Arab Emirates. He was identified from an Immigration and Naturalization "watch list" of suspected terrorists involved in Hamas' campaign of violence.

Marzook has been in solitary confinement at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center while his lawyer and Justice Department attorneys skirmished about whether he should be deported to Israel. During that time, Cohen sought unsuccessfully to have the court hear testimony or receive depositions that he said would be offered by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders.

Marzook has not disputed that he is the leader of Hamas' political wing. But he insisted that the political wing wants an end to violence, and he added that it exercises only limited control over the dozens of loosely allied militias and cells in the West Bank and Gaza that collectively make up Hamas.