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NCU Faculty Represents Terrorism Victims Before Supreme Court

Edward Maggio at Supreme Court

By Edward Maggio, JD, M.Sc., Adjunct Professor, School of Business

At NCU, I serve as an adjunct professor in the School of Business. In that role, I currently teach Introduction to Legal Studies, Constitutional Law, Civil Actions I-II, Contract Law and Strategic Planning and Implementation in Criminal Justice.

In my professional life as an attorney, I specialize in litigation on behalf of the victims of terrorist organizations and the nations that support them. This includes dealing with complex legal matters involving nations such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Iran on a regular basis.   

Working with a team of law firms, we brought a case against the nation of Sudan for their role in supporting Al Qaeda. On Aug. 7, 1998, Al Qaeda planned and executed truck bombings against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. These catastrophic terrorist attacks killed 224 people and wounded thousands of others. Without the Sudanese government’s support, Al Qaeda could not have carried out these horrendous attacks against innocent people. These victims have been unable to receive compensation from any other source due to Sudan’s refusal to recognize the U.S. court judgments.

In 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued final judgments against the Sudanese government. The court awarded more than $10.2 billion in damages against Sudan for these victims of terrorism. The basis of their claims stems from the argument that the bombings were "extrajudicial killings" under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Sudan appealed the cases. Finally, on behalf of the victims, we appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in Opati v. Republic of Sudan, asking our nation’s highest court to clarify whether "the FSIA may be applied retroactively to impose punitive damages on a state sponsor of terrorism for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute.”

The Supreme Court issued their opinion on May 18, 2020. The court held unanimously that FSIA allowed punitive damages to be applied retroactively on a state sponsor of terrorism for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute. Sudan now faces up to potentially $10.2 billion in damages that must be paid to the victims of terrorism. It also now puts other nations on notice that their support for terrorism can make them accountable to the victims and their families.

It was an honor and privilege to work on a great legal team with multiple law firms and see everyone’s efforts come together for a great cause. More importantly, the victims and their families are now receiving the assistance and attention they deserve after years of struggling against overwhelming odds.

One of the great things about NCU is tying real-world situations, like this case, to classroom learning objectives and weekly assignments. This gives students the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they’ll need when facing unique challenges in their future careers.