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After 'long, difficult road,' Schumer, Higgins announce US agreement with Sudan 'will finally deliver justice' for Buffalo's Granville family

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Wed, Dec 23rd 2020 05:45 pm

Buffalo native & USAID diplomat John Granville was murdered in Khartoum in 2008

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins announced the omnibus budget package approved by Congress includes “long-overdue justice” for a Western New York family.

On Jan. 1, 2008, Buffalo-native John Granville and his colleague, Abdel Rahman Abas, were murdered by terrorists in Sudan after leaving a New Year’s Eve event at the British Embassy in Khartoum. At the time, Granville was working as a diplomat for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). After years of negotiations, the U.S. government recently removed Sudan as a state sponsor of terror, because the country is transitioning from a dictatorship to a civilian-led government. Sudan has deposited $335 million in an escrow account to be disbursed to survivors and families of those killed at U.S. embassies and in other terrorist attacks. Following congressional approval of the agreement, the Granville family is now able to access a settlement of more than $2 million.

“John Granville was a dedicated and patriotic diplomat with a deep love of country, family, and Western New York,” Schumer said. “While nothing can fill the void left by his murder, this legislation achieves a commonsense resolution, which will finally allow the Granville family to receive some measure of justice and closure after all they have suffered.”

“John Granville was a bright young man, making a difference in the world with his work promoting free and fair elections in Sudan when he was gunned down by terrorists nearly 13 years ago,” Higgins said. “It is in fact, John’s work that has contributed to a transitioning government for the people of Sudan today. John’s death was devastating in itself, but the family has continued to suffer by actions in the years that have followed. This legislation will help ease the family’s long, difficult struggle.”

A press release explained that, after months of negotiation Schumer, along with Sen. Robert Menendez, brokered a compromise that led to the passage of legislation unlocking compensation for the Granville family and victims of the East Africa embassy bombings. Following a conversation with the Granville family in September, Schumer worked tirelessly with Menendez for a commonsense solution that would allow them to receive their settlement while also addressing the deep deficiencies in the legislation proposed by the administration that harmed other victims of terror. Schumer announced the agreement was part of the bipartisan omnibus legislation, unlocking millions for the Granville family after years of uncertainty.

Higgins learned about the killing after receiving a call from Granville’s mother on the morning of his death. Since then, Higgins has undertaken significant advocacy on behalf of the Granville family and American diplomatic missions around the world. In 2013, Higgins testified on diplomatic protection before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and later that year pressed then-Secretary of State John Kerry on the need to hold Sudan accountable. He also took the lead on a letter to Sudanese President al-Bashir to rescind a pardon that was granted to Granville’s killer, and has made numerous speeches on Granville’s behalf on the floor of the House of Representatives. Earlier this year, Higgins reached out to the House Foreign Affairs Committee to request the settlement agreement for families with the Sudan government be included in year-end legislation. Higgins also worked closely with the family to appeal for the agreement and coordinated with Schumer and Sen. Chris Coons.

Granville grew up in South Buffalo, graduated from Canisius High School. He earned a degree from Fordham University in international relations and a master’s degree in international development and social change from Cark University. He was a Fulbright Scholar and volunteered for the Peace Corps before beginning his work with USAID. He is survived by his mother and sister. 

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