A long-awaited trial starts Monday, in which U.S. victims of Hamas and their families are suing a massive Middle Eastern bank for allegedly funnelling money to family members of terrorist suicide bombers.
The decade-old case alleges the Jordanian Arab Bank helped funnel “martyr payments” to the relatives of terrorists through its New York branch during the second Palestinian Intifada between 2000-2005 (a period of intense fighting between Israel and Palestine that reportedly cost 4,000 lives).
The high-profile suit will be the first-ever civil trial involving terror financing, according to Osen Law, the firm representing the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court rejected the bank’s petition for it to hear the case in June, paving the way for the controversial case to go to trial in Brooklyn federal court this week.
The suit claims Arab Bank helped funnel money from insurance benefits provided by the Saudi Committee, a group that supported the Intifada, to the families of Palestinian terrorists who had become “martyrs” or been injured or captured by Israeli forces.
This insurance “is ultimately designed to provide substantial material support to Palestinian terrorist organisations and to provide a meaningful incentive both to prospective recruits and to individuals contemplating the commission of independent acts of violence in the name of the ‘popular resistance,” according to the complaint.
The complaint list five terrorist attacks in which Arab Bank allegedly funneled money to terrorists’ families.
One case involves John Linde Jr., who was killed along with two other security officers by an IED in northern Gaza as they were escorting U.S. diplomats to interview Palestinian candidates for Fulbright Scholarships in October 2003.
In another heartbreaking case, Tehilla Nathansen, just 3 years old, was killed while sitting on her mother’s lap on the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem in August of 2003. In another attack on a child, Jacob Mandell, an 8th-grader, was stoned to death, along with another friend, by Palestinians while he was hiking in May of 2001.
The suit claims Arab Bank has violated Section 2339B of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which makes it illegal for an entity within the U.S. to provide material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organisations.
Originally filed in 2004, the suit is only now reaching trial because Arab Bank did everything they could to withhold information from the plaintiffs, lead attorney Gary Osen of Osen LLC told Business Insider.
“They have done everything in their power to deny us the opportunity to have a full record and to delay the proceedings for as long as they could,” he said.
If Arab Bank is found liable, a jury will determine the amount in damages the plaintiffs will receive, he said.
“We can’t obviously predict what impact, if any, the proceeding or trial could have one way or the other, but if liability is found, we hope it will impact the way foreign financial institutions conduct their risk management in the area of terror financing.”
Although some have speculated that Arab Bank will try and settle this case out of court, Osen said he “fully expects this trial to start Monday.”
Although Arab Bank did not return Business Insider’s request for comment, it did provide this statement to Forbes:
“The facts show that Arab Bank provided routine banking service in compliance with applicable counterterrorism laws and regulations, and had no intention of providing support to Hamas or any other known terrorist organisation.”
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