First Civil Case against Bank under 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act Opens

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Victims of terrorist attacks in Israel are attempting for the first time under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 to hold a bank accountable for financing such operations.

 

A class-action lawsuit targeting the Jordan-based Arab Bank claims it supported two dozen terror attacks inside Israel from 2001 to 2004.

 

Arab Bank “knowingly and willfully” financially helped Hamas and other “terrorists who have killed, injured and maimed civilians” and “aided and abetted and conspired to commit said acts of international terrorism,” according to the lawsuit filed by 297 Americans.

 

The bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, is accused specifically of assisting the Saudi Committee for the Support of Intifada Al Quds, which reportedly pays money to the families of terrorists killed in attacks.

 

The claims against Arab Bank constitute multiple violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act, making the institution liable for compensating the survivors of attacks, the plaintiffs say.

The litigation was filed in 2005, but was held up in pre-trial proceedings while the defendant’s lawyers tried to withhold bank records from being released to the plaintiffs.

 

“Finally, District Court Judge Nina Gerson ruled that if Arab Bank continued refusing to turn over its records, it could not use them in its own defense during the trial. And she said the jury would be told it could infer the bank’s wrongdoing when it comes to considering the evidence,” Stewart Ain reported for The Jewish Week.

 

The bank appealed Gerson’s ruling, claiming it was prohibited from turning over some of the requested records because of foreign bank privacy laws, but it was denied. Arab Bank claims it had nothing to do with selecting the payment recipients and checked them against a blacklist, on which none of them were named.

 

Some bank lawyers are concerned that a decision against Arab Bank would make all financial institutions responsible for the criminal activities of their customers.

 

The trial, which began on August 14, is expected to last about a month.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Hamas Terror Trial Opens In Brooklyn (by Stewart Ain, Jewish Week)

Terrorism Trial of Mideast Bank Worries the Financial World (by Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times)

NY Jury Told to Blame Bank for Gaza Terror (by Nick Divito, Courthouse News Service)

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