With its recent judgment against Arab Bank PLC, a New York jury has potentially paved the way for justice in the form of significant financial penalties against the bank, and compensatory payments to victims of terrorism and their families.
We see this as a significant decision – one that through the legal process will enable victims of terrorism to accomplish results that have not been achieved through orchestrated economic sanctions.
On Sept. 22, a unanimous jury in the case entitled Linde v. Arab Bank found that the Amman-based lender – the biggest in Jordan – knowingly funded Hamas-affiliated terrorists and terror organizations during the Second Intifada. The bank’s financial support led to 24 attacks in Israel from 2001 to 2004, including suicide bombings, and violated the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.
The plaintiffs in the Linde case – about 300 victims and their relatives – established that a portion of the funding for the terror attacks was provided through front organizations operating as “Islamic charities” that disbursed funding and cash payments through 22 Arab Bank branches in the West Bank and Gaza. The evidence further established that in many instances, cash payments were given to individuals who were not account holders.
The Arab Bank has said that it will appeal the jury’s findings. And the bank asserts that the decision “exposes the banking industry to enormous liability for nothing other than the processing of routine transactions.” But the case has already sent an important message: Banks have a responsibility to ensure that the funds they hold do not end up in the hands of terrorists, and they cannot turn a blind eye to such activity.
By being the middle men in the channeling of blood money, it is as if those bankers are shedding the blood themselves. And for that, it is appropriate for participating banks to be held accountable and liable.