I met Nitsana in Toronto about 19 years ago. She was fresh out of law school but had lead a team of fellow students who started a law suit against terrorists before graduation. And so began her career and she never looked back. Can you imagine the scope of these lawsuits against banks and countries. But Nitsana was obviously up to the task and has paved the way for others to follow. Ted Belman
When I was a child, terrorism scared me more than the other kids.
Immigrants carry the fears they know to their new countries and pass them on to their children, often out of context. So having Israeli parents in New Jersey in the 1970s meant growing up worrying that Arab terrorists–rather than kidnappers, tornadoes, or ICBMs–were going to get me. Each night we waited for Walter Cronkite to tell us what evils had befallen our faraway people. A hijacked airplane. A seaside resort attacked by men with rifles and grenades. An elementary school, the murder of children. I was Israeli, and I believed these things could happen to me, too.
In that world, terrorists were crazy, demented, evil people who took guns into schoolhouses and shot up buses and reveled in the blood they had shed, all in order to make a political statement–a statement that my people, my family, my life had no legitimacy at all. It was both grotesque and chaotic. Outside of the realms of law and sense and humanity.
And then I grew up, and the same dark forces expanded and threatened to engulf the whole world: 9/11 and 7/7 and Madrid and Mumbai made terrorism everyone’s problem.
But then, after a few years of major global concern and greater and lesser wars, something else happened. At some point in the last decade, terrorism went from being something demonic and nightmarish to something more like a disease that we knew how to fight. Dangerous if left untreated, but beatable nonetheless. We had somehow put it into a box.
Part of what changed was the determination of Western governments, especially after 9/11, to militarily attack terror bases around the world. Al-Qaeda, in particular, had its whole command structure decimated. But alongside the military campaign was the recognition that terror networks needed money, legitimacy, and freedom to operate–all of which they got from the legitimate global political and commercial systems of the world. Terrorists, it turned out, lived, basically, in the same world we did. The U.S. Treasury, helped by new legislation and led by Under Secretary Stuart Levey under both the Bush and first Obama administrations, took the charge in enforcing strict anti-terror measures against corporations and governments that were on the wrong side of the battle. Intelligence agencies, too, started prioritizing tracking bank accounts and wire transfers. American diplomats lobbied foreign governments to join the effort.