Calderón-Cardona v. North Korea — July 23, 2010
A United States federal court has found the government of North Korea and its intelligence service, the Cabinet General Intelligence Bureau, liable for a terrorist attack perpetrated in 1972. The U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico has ordered the defendants to pay $378,000,000 in damages to two families.
The case arises from a lawsuit brought by victims of the terror attack at Israel’s Lod Airport in May 1972. 26 people were killed and 80 were injured. Most of the victims were Catholic-American pilgrims from Puerto Rico who had come to visit the Holy Land for the first time.
The attack was carried out by Japanese Red Army (JRA), working in league with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The terrorists placed automatic weapons, ammunition, and grenades in their check-in luggage on a flight from Italy to Israel. When their bags emerged on the luggage carousel in Tel-Aviv, the terrorists took out the weapons and opened fire in every direction, gunning down passengers, flight crew members and airport workers. They also attempted to blow up airplanes on the ground using hand grenades.
The Court found North Korea liable for the attack and the resulting injuries inflicted on the families. In its decision the Court wrote that: “As a matter of its official policy, North Korea provided training, resources, weapons and safe haven to the JRA and the PFLP during the period relevant to this case. Defendants ran roughly 30 terrorist training camps from 1968 to 1988 within North Korea’s borders; those camps specialized in terrorist and guerilla warfare training. These camps serviced in excess of 10,000 terrorists, including members of the JRA and PFLP, and provided courses lasting from three to eighteen months.” The Court also found that members of North Korea’s military and intelligence agencies served as instructors in the training camps.
This is the first time that North Korea has been held accountable in a U.S. court for its support of terrorism.