Brown Urges President Obama to Press the New Libyan Government on Accountability for Terrorist Attacks Sponsored by Qaddafi

2012 Marks the 40th Anniversary of Munich Olympic Massacre; The Families of Israeli Olympian David Berger of Beachwood— and the 11 Israelis Who Died that Day—Have Yet to Receive Compensation From the Libyan Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged President Barack Obama to begin negotiations with the Israeli and Libyan governments to provide compensation to the victims of the Munich Massacre. The Black September Organization (BSO) is responsible for the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, which resulted in the death of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, including Ohioan David Berger.  While Libya has agreed to compensate other victims of its terrorist activities, previous attempts to engage the Libyan government on the Munich Massacre have failed.

“We must hold terrorists accountable,” Brown said. “Accountability means that every victim’s family of the 1972 Olympic Massacre is compensated – including the family of Ohioan David Berger.  With the fall of the Qaddafi regime, we must seize the opportunity to compensate these families and send a clear signal to terrorist regimes that we will not rest in our fight for justice.”

Brown most recently visited Israel in November 2010. The David Berger National Memorial, located in Beachwood, Ohio, honors the Shaker Heights native and all the victims of the tragedy in Munich.

A copy of the letter can be read here.

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President: 


I appreciate your efforts regarding the possibility of using frozen Libyan assets to supplement the settlement amounts to US victims of terrorism sponsored by the Qaddafi regime.   I hope that you will continue to work toward an effective solution given the constraints facing the US-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement.  With a new government in Libya, we must work to create a free and democratic Libya while compensating those who were victims of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s global terror campaign.


I ask that you work with the Israeli government and your counterparts in the international community to compensate other victims of terrorism sponsored by the Qaddafi regime that fell outside of the 2008 US-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement.  The victims of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games included 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, including American David Berger. 


It is well established that the massacre was carried out by the group Black September and that it was supported by the Libyan government of Qaddafi.   Unfortunately, during negotiations that led to the 2008 US-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement, Mr. Berger was not included.  Those responsible for the murders remain unpunished.  The families of the victims have received no compensation from the Qaddafi regime.


There is a national memorial to David Berger in Beachwood, Ohio.  Mr. Berger was an American citizen and one of the 11 Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Olympic Games.  As a nation, we honor his memory and Israeli teammates, but we must compensate his family and hold those responsible for his death accountable.


Holding the Qaddafi regime accountable for its actions does not terminate with the end of the regime.  Seeking justice and compensation for victims of global terrorism sends a powerful message to those who may be seeking to act similarly.   The window of opportunity to engage the new Libyan government has never been greater.   Yet, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the massacre, memories fade while justice remains denied.  


I ask that you work with the governments of Libya and Israel to forge an agreement that will allow Libya to move forward in its quest to shake its dark past, while providing the families of the innocent Israeli and American victims of the Munich massacre the compensation and justice that has been so long denied.


Thank you for your attention to this important matter.




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