Saturday, August 09, 2014

9-Aug-14: Terrorism financing case against a bank due to go to trial this week in New York

The planner of the terrorist massacre at Sbarro,
now freed, living in Jordan and presenting weekly
television programs that celebrate terror. [Source video]
Exactly thirteen years ago today, on August 9, 2001, a human bomb in the service of Hamas, led by a second Hamas terrorist, a woman called Ahlam Tamimi, brought a guitar case slung across his back and filled with explosives and nails into the Sbarro restaurant at the corner of Jaffa Road and King George V Avenue in the heart of Jerusalem.

The explosion that resulted, at 2:00 pm when the pizza shop was filled with children and women, killed 15 people, leaving a 16th unconscious (she remains unconscious all these years later) and maiming some 130 others, many of them passers-by on the busy street.

Our daughter Malki was fifteen years old when she was murdered in that Hamas attack. The human bomb died, of course. The chief planner was a woman of 21 at the time. She brought the human bomb, who evidently did not know Jerusalem as well as she did, to the site that hot afternoon. She later boasted that she had selected it because of the large number of Jewish children she knew would be patronizing it at that hour on that school vacation day. She walked away a few minutes before the massive explosion, returned quickly to Ramallah and presented the evening news that night on PA Television.

Behind terrorist massacres like the one at Sbarro, there are often quite complex webs of logistics, connections and funding that tie the various perpetrators and their often-highly-placed enablers to each other.

To illustrate, the parents of the human bomb appeared on NBC News some years ago, and candidly revealed to the interviewer and the cameras that after the "heroic" deed of their dead son, they received payments from Arab Bank in ways that are laid out in an article ["Terror ties at a Middle Eastern bank?"] on the NBC News website. That NBC item includes a video clip of the parents speaking as well as a conversation between NBC's investigative reporter and a spokesperson for Arab Bank.

The human bomb's parents, as recorded in a video interview with one of the Hamas satellite television channels, described the impact on them:
They both expressed their pride and appreciation of Tamimi and how she helped their son become a Martyr: "We are proud of Ahlam Tamimi even before our son, by Allah. She fulfilled her obligation and made me proud. We thank Allah and Ahlam Tamimi, who brought him [my son] to this high level." [Palestinian Media Watch]
Now this syndicated Reuters report below, published yesterday, via the Voice of America website.

Arab Bank in US Faces Trial Over Hamas Funding

Arab Bank PLC goes on trial next week in New York over claims that it provided material support to the Palestinian group Hamas, in what one of the plaintiffs' lawyers said is the first terrorism financing case against a bank to go to trial in the United States.

Almost 300 U.S. citizens who were the victims – or their relatives – of militant attacks allegedly committed by Hamas in Israel and the Palestinian territories between 2001 and 2004 sued the Amman, Jordan-based bank in 2004. About 200 other plaintiffs in the lawsuit with claims against the bank stemming from attacks blamed on the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other groups have not yet gone to trial.

The plaintiffs accused the bank of violating the U.S. 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 organization in 1997. Arab Bank has said it did not cause or provide material support for the attacks.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, presiding over the case in Brooklyn federal court, has said the trial could last up to 60 days. Jury selection begins on Monday.

Precedent-setting case?

The bank could be liable for millions of dollars, said Gary Osen, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He said this was the first terrorism financing case against a bank to go to trial in the United States. The trial could be a guidepost for the other plaintiffs in the case, Osen said. Meanwhile, civil terror financing cases are pending against Bank of China Ltd. and Credit Lyonnais SA in Manhattan and Brooklyn federal court.

The plaintiffs' evidence will include bank records and newspaper advertisements showing that Arab Bank maintained accounts for Hamas operatives and processed payments for the families of suicide bombers, Osen said.

Arab Bank’s defense

Arab Bank has said it will argue that of millions of transactions it processed during the period, only four processed in New York involved parties the United States had designated as terrorists, which it reported to U.S. regulators who took no action.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the bank said it “provided routine banking services in compliance with applicable counter terrorism laws and regulations, and had no intention of providing support to Hamas or any other known terrorist organization.”

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, in the same Brooklyn federal court, dismissed a similar case against the bank, saying plaintiff Mati Gill could not prove it was responsible for injuries sustained in 2008 from gunshots fired from Gaza into Israel.

Daniel Alonso, a managing director with compliance consulting firm Exiger and former prosecutor, said courts apply strict standards to claims for recovery under the Anti-Terrorism Act. “It's not enough simply to have failed in your controls,” said Alonso. “The defendant must have caused injury to the victims through their actions.”


See also "Terror Victims to Press Claims Against Arab Bank | Suit Alleges Financial Firm Knowingly Routed Compensation Payments to Hamas Operatives", Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2014. A brief extract:
The evidence Mr. Osen [one of the plaintiff's lawyers in this week's trial] said he plans to use at trial includes records of transactions that flowed through the bank's New York branch, as well as records of bank transactions involving a Saudi charity called the Saudi Committee, which the lawsuit says paid a "comprehensive insurance benefit" of about $5,300 to families of suicide bombers. If the bank were found liable, a separate trial would determine the amount owed to victims and their families.
The bank said it provided routine services to the Palestinian charities and said it legally processed tens of thousands of automated fund transfers for the Saudi Committee, including 1,700 payments to survivors of Palestinians who died in the conflict. "Arab Bank processed the Saudi Committee transfers with the understanding that they were intended to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories and not, as the lawsuits allege, to incentivize Palestinians to commit terrorist attacks," the bank said in an online statement.

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