Law Firms Help Family of American Victims of Al-Zarqawi Win Over $400 Million Against Syria for Sponsoring Terrorism

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A federal judge in the District of Columbia entered orders awarding in excess of $400 million to the families of two American subcontractors in Iraq, Jack Hensley and Eugene "Jack" Armstrong who, in September of 2004, were kidnapped and murdered by beheading while working Baghdad, Iraq. Syria was found liable for facilitating the recruitment and training of Al-Zarqawi followers and their transportation into Iraq, harboring terrorists, and providing financial support to Al-Zarqawi and his terrorist network in Iraq.

On September 26, 2008, the Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer, a federal judge in the District of Columbia, entered orders awarding in excess of $400 million to the families of two American subcontractors in Iraq, Jack Hensley and Eugene "Jack" Armstrong who, in September of 2004, were kidnapped and murdered by beheading while working Baghdad, Iraq. Syria was found liable for facilitating the recruitment and training of Al-Zarqawi followers and their transportation into Iraq, harboring terrorists, and providing financial support to Al-Zarqawi and his terrorist network in Iraq.

Jack Hensley and Eugene "Jack" Armstrong were private subcontractors working in Baghdad, Iraq. They were employed by an American consortium providing civilian technical, logistical and operational support to the United States rebuilding effort in Iraq. Kidnapped in September of 2004, Jack Hensley and Eugene "Jack" Armstrong were kept in captivity for weeks. Hensley and Armstrong were then brutally beheaded. The gory beheadings were filmed by their captors who distributed the video of the beheadings so that it could be published via television and the internet for propaganda purposes.

The terrorists were led by Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born extremist and associate of Al-Qaeda. In the Order, the Federal Court found that Syria played an important supporting role, both materially and financially, in the terrorists' plans. Specifically, the Federal Court found that Syria served as a "logistical hub" for Zarqawi and his terrorist network in Iraq. Syria's material and financial aid and support for Zarqawi and his followers was fully known and approved by the Syrian government at its highest levels. Zarqawi was killed June 7, 2006 in an American airstrike near Baquba, Iraq.

The Court's Order details evidence from a three-day trial in January of 2008. Syria never appeared to contest the claims. In explaining its decision as to the award of damages, the Court cites the viciousness of the murders and the publication of the horrific video footage: "The videos of these atrocities transformed innocent men into mere props in a propaganda campaign. The videos glorified cruelty and fanned the flames of hatred, in a fundamental offense to human dignity. Syria's liability for its continued support to Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq must be recognized and deterred."

The trial was conducted by a team of lawyers: Steven R. Perles and Edward B. MacAllister, of the Perles Law Firm in Washington, D.C., and Roy E. Barnes and John F. Salter, of the Barnes Law Group, LLC, in Marietta, Georgia.

Asked about the size of the judgment, the attorneys, Steven R. Perles and John F. Salter, felt the award reflected both the cruelty of the murders and the quality of the men who were lost. Steven Perles said, "it is our hope that if we can collect on some of this, Syria will realize they must repudiate their support for terrorists and rejoin the civilized world."

John Salter, of the Barnes Law Group, LLC, agreed and added: "It is an extraordinary testament to the fortitude of these families. No one should ever have to witness a family member suffering such unspeakable brutality. They hoped the judge's order would send a message. Together, I think we did exactly that."

Barnes Law Group located in Marietta, Georgia is a specialty litigation firm anchored by one of the nation's preeminent trial lawyers and Georgia's former Governor, Roy E. Barnes. The firm operates on a simple, yet extraordinarily powerful philosophy: make it right for those who have been wronged. Barnes Law Group specializes in Wrongful Death, Consumer Fraud, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home Abuse, and Class Action Litigation.

The Perles Law Firm, P.C. is located in Washington, DC and provides legal services to clients in the areas of international business and commercial law, including import-export issues, litigation and appeals based on international issues, federal relations and legislation, and international natural resources law.

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