Complaint describes scheme by which Arab Bank administers “insurance plan” by giving benefits to families of suicide bombers.
US Eastern District of New York Judge Nina Gershon will hold a key hearing on Wednesday in what could be the first terror financing case against a bank to go to trial in United States history.
The potential blockbuster case against Arab Bank has already been featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning show and, in addition to setting significant and binding precedents, could have a “meaningful impact on banks” that finance terror groups “for profit because they are indifferent to just another customer and don’t care,” said lead litigator Gary Osen.
It will increase the risk for funding terrorist groups such as Hamas and al-Qaida and may change the conduct of institutions and banks that do business in gray areas, he continued.
The case involves allegations of large transfers to Hamas leadership institutions and families of Hamas prisoners and suicide bombers via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation.
If the case goes to trial, it will shine a spotlight on how Hamas and its leaders have been funded over the past 10 years, offering the public an unprecedented and highly documented glimpse into the nuts and bolts of their financing.
The lengthy list of terror attacks in 2001-2003 involved in the case includes: the Sbarro Pizza attack in Jerusalem; the Dolphinarium discotheque attack in Tel Aviv; the multiple suicide bombings on Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem on one Saturday night; the Cafe Moment and Cafe Hillel bombings in Jerusalem; the Park Hotel Passover Seder attack in Netanya and the explosion at the Sheffield Club in Rishon Lezion.
While major judgments have been won against terror entities and third party banks and organizations that finance terror, they have all been by default, meaning the defendants were too afraid of the consequences to show up, or at least denied the court’s jurisdiction.
Because these were default judgments, they have not set binding precedents to the same extent that a contested all-out legal battle leading to a trial by jury and a final judgment on the merits would have.
They also have saved the banks and terror groups from having to expose their financial dealings to the public on a high-profile stage.
This is the first case in which a bank has fought the charges, filing a motion for summary judgment, or a motion that means that the bank has fully shown up in court and is fully contesting the evidence against it, while trying a last ditch attempt to avoid a full trial.
The hearing itself delves deep into the details and legal principles of how much proof is needed to win a counterterrorism lawsuit and, for the first time, whether the plaintiffs have sufficient proof to go to trial.
If the court rejects Arab Bank’s summary judgment motion, the case will be the first to go to trial.