Chapter VII
Recent International Terrorism Cases

Since the bombing of the Murrah Building, OVC has been directly involved in providing assistance to victims in several international terrorism events affecting American citizens. OVC became involved in these cases at different stages, and each case presented unique issues and challenges. In one case, special legislation was passed to enable OVC to provide the assistance needed by victim families. The following are examples of the types of assistance OVC has provided in recent major terrorist cases.

Bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, June 1996

  • OVC worked with the FBI to fund and organize a 2-day briefing for victim families in December 1998. The briefing provided families with information about the status of the investigation and about victim assistance resources. In addition, U.S. Department of Defense representatives were on hand to answer questions about military benefits and autopsy issues.

  • OVC provided funds to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia to operate a toll-free telephone line for surviving families and injured victims and to provide a part-time victim specialist to maintain contact with victims.

  • OVC developed a special resource handbook and mailed it to victims.

Bombings of United States Embassies, Kenya and Tanzania, August 1998

  • OVC provided onsite assistance to the U.S. Department of State when the families of victims traveled to Washington, D.C., for the arrival of the bodies of their loved ones.

  • OVC transferred Emergency Reserve Funds to the U.S. Department of State to assist victims with emergency needs, such as uncompensated medical expenses and funeral and transportation costs, and to pay the salary of a temporary person to serve as liaison with victims.

  • OVC provided funding and staff assistance to sponsor a 2-day informational briefing in Washington, D.C., in May 1999, for injured victims and families of deceased victims.

  • OVC provided staff assistance to help identify resources and coordinate requests for crime victim compensation and other services for individual victims with available programs in their states.

  • OVC provided technical assistance and funding to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York for victim assistance during the upcoming trial.

Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, Lockerbie, Scotland, December 1988

When Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed in 1988, few traditional victim assistance resources were available to Americans who were victimized outside the borders of the United States. Almost 12 years after the crime occurred, the trial of two men accused of the bombing began in a special Scottish Court in the Netherlands under unique circumstances. In April 1999, the Attorney General asked OVC to provide assistance to the victim families during the trial, and Congress passed special legislation, in May 1999, to enable OVC to use Emergency Reserve Funds for this purpose.

Quote from brother of Pan Am Flight 103 victimAlthough the case was to be prosecuted in a Scottish Court under Scottish law, the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies provided a great deal of assistance. OVC's assistance was viewed as a significant contribution to the trial. By establishing a unique partnership with the Scottish police, prosecutors, and court personnel, OVC ensured that the information and assistance provided to the families was appropriate. OVC coordinated with Scottish authorities to assist Pan Am Flight 103 victims and families in many ways.

  • OVC created a comprehensive database containing updated contact information for almost 700 family members of the 270 victims.

  • OVC established an international, toll-free telephone assistance and information line accessible from the 16 countries where victim families are located.

  • OVC provided funding assistance and coordination for case briefing meetings held for victim families prior to the trial. Meetings were held in Washington, D.C.; Dumfries, Scotland; and London, England.

  • OVC set up a secure information Web site, from which victim families can access updated information about the case, including summaries of daily proceedings and full court transcripts; an "electronic scrapbook" of archival information on the bombing and the victims; information about victims services; and a discussion forum for families to communicate with one another.

  • OVC developed a trial briefing book for victim families.

  • OVC provided funding for onsite support services at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands, including a Crown Office prosecutor to serve as the legal liaison to the families to explain Scottish law and procedure.

  • OVC provided funding to create a secure waiting area for victim families at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.

  • OVC provided funding and coordination to the Scottish Court Service to establish four remote sites in the United States and the United Kingdom for closed-circuit viewing of trial proceedings by victim families.

  • OVC provided travel assistance for two family members per victim to attend the trial for 1 week in the Netherlands or travel to one of the remote closed-circuit viewing sites.

  • OVC established a fund to pay for uncompensated mental health counseling for immediate family members throughout the trial process.

Previous Contents Next

Responding to Terrorism Victims: Oklahoma City and Beyond October 2000