News Release
November 17, 2009
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
(202) 307-7977

DEA Honored By Anti-Defamation League

NOV 17 -- (NEW YORK) – In recognition of their efforts to bring a notorious terrorist to justice, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Each received the ADL Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation Award during the League's Annual Meeting in New York City. The award is named for Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair bound American tourist murdered while aboard the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985, when it was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.

As part of a successful undercover operation began in 2005 known as "Operation Legacy," a group of DEA agents infiltrated the inner ring of Monzer al-Kassar, a notorious arms dealer and the terrorist who supplied weapons to the hijackers of the Achille Lauro. After his arrest and extradition to the United States for attempting to sell weapons to a Colombian terrorist organization, al-Kassar and his associate were convicted on multiple terrorism charges in November 2008. Al-Kassar received a 30-year prison sentence.

In presenting the award named in honor of their father, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer spoke of the unwavering commitment of the DEA and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Today we honor the tenacity and dedication it takes to brings terrorists and those who enable terrorism to justice," said Ilsa Klinghoffer. "As a family that has been victimized by terrorism, we cannot adequately express our appreciation to those who continue to investigate, track and prosecute terrorists."

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James Soiles, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division for DEA, accepted the awards on behalf of their respective offices.

With their late mother, Marilyn, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer established the ADL Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation in 1985, mandated to combat terrorism through educational, political and legal means.

"After suffering this most inexplicable and public of tragedies, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer did what many people do not have the strength or the courage to do – they decided to fight back," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Through their constant, selfless and tireless efforts, they have transformed terrorism and its victims from the abstract and put a face to those whose lives have been directly affected by terrorism."

The ADL Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation Award is an honor bestowed periodically in appreciation of important contributions to the struggle against terrorism. Past recipients of the award include former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, on behalf of the Clinton Administration, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Charles Schumer, Rep. Henry Hyde, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Richard Schifter, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Williams, and former Secretary of State George Schultz.