Hamas Victims’ Lawyer: Arab Bank Financed Terrorists

NEW YORK (AP) -

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 deadly Palestinian riots 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 Palestinian controlled areas 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 plaintiffs used flat screens to display 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.”

The defense said the transaction wasn’t caught because Yassin’s name was misspelled on the bank’s terrorist watch list.