Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published August 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Page modified August 14, 2014 at 1:20 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments
  • Print

US victims' lawyer: Arab Bank financed terrorists

A large Jordan-based bank funneled tens of millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers and terrorist operatives with ties to Hamas during a deadly Palestinian uprising from 2001 to 2004, lawyers for American terror victims said Thursday at a federal trial in Brooklyn.


Associated Press

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
The New York Times has a less sanitized article, naming the folks behind Hamas support. Good old House of Saud. They... MORE

advertising

NEW YORK —

A large Jordan-based bank funneled tens of millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers and terrorist operatives with ties to Hamas during a deadly Palestinian uprising from 2001 to 2004, lawyers for American terror victims said Thursday at a federal trial in Brooklyn.

The funds were distributed over the counter in cash to relatives of dead bombers at Arab Bank branches in the West Bank and Gaza by bank officials who "knew these neighbors of theirs were evil and criminal people," attorney Tab Turner said in opening statements.

Arab Bank attorney Shand Stephens countered by telling jurors that Arab Bank had followed regulations requiring it to screen transactions against lists of known terrorists compiled by the U.S. and European officials and none were flagged. The bank, he added, was following the instructions of an organization run by the Saudi government, the Saudi Committee for Supporting Al Quds Intifada.

"The Arab Bank did not choose who to pay," Stephens said. "The Saudi Committee did that."

The civil case is the first time a bank has faced a trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims of U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation. The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997.

American victims in two dozen attacks in Israel sued in 2004, accusing the bank of knowingly helping Hamas finance a "death and dismemberment benefit plan" for martyrs. Their lawyers on Thursday alleged that the Saudi Committee had used Arab Bank's offices in Jordan and New York to convert donations into U.S. currency before they were distributed to Hamas sympathizers.

The plaintiffs used flat screens in the courtroom to display a record of an electronic transfer naming Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and a list from a bank file of people designated for $5,300 payments based on deaths from "martyr operations." They also cited the confession of the mastermind of two attacks who claimed the money for weapons had been transferred through the United States and into his private Arab Bank account.

Doing business with Hamas "wasn't an accident," said another plaintiff lawyer, Mark Werber. "It wasn't a mistake. It wasn't routine banking. It was a choice that Arab Bank made."

The defense said the transaction naming Yassin wasn't caught because his name was misspelled on the bank's terrorist watch list. It also described the payouts to martyrs by the Saudi Committee as a broad humanitarian effort aimed at helping any Palestinian harmed by the conflict.

"A martyr does not mean terrorism," he said. "It does not mean a suicide bombing. It means somebody who's dead. And that money is going to the families of people who died. ... No one got paid for being a suicide bomber."

The case had stalled in recent years as the bank fought demands that it turn over customer account information and other financial records, arguing that doing so would violate banking secrecy laws in Jordan and elsewhere. In 2010, a judge issued sanctions against the bank for its "recalcitrance" in withholding evidence -- a penalty that would allow the court to instruct the jury that it could infer that it knowingly worked with terrorist organizations.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

Bad email habits to break today


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►