Relatives of American and Israeli victims of Palestinian
attacks have filed an $875 million lawsuit in federal district court in
Manhattan against the Amman-based Arab Bank.
The group alleges that the
Jordanian bank has transferred funds to such insurgency groups as Hamas and
The U.S. lawsuit was based on documents seized by the Israeli military
in February 2004 from the Arab Bank branch in Ramallah. The plaintiffs said
the documents pointed to a direct link between the Arab Bank and Hamas
and Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Arab Bank is one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle
East, Middle East Newsline reported.
Jihad's website, www.palestineway.com, has provided the accounts of organizations
linked to Arab Bank branches in such cities as Bethlehem, Gaza City and
"The Jordanian-based banking institution with a branch in New York is
knowingly administering the distribution of financial benefits to
terrorists, the families of terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations
as part of a scheme to encourage and facilitate acts of international
terrorism." the suit, submitted on July 6, said.
The Arab Bank was said to be operated by Palestinian investors. The
bank, however, has been regarded as a leading financial tool of the
Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.
[On Monday, the Fatah-dominated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed
responsibility for the assassination of an Israeli judge outside his home
near Tel Aviv. The judge, Adi Azar, had recently ordered the freezing of
more than $10 million in PA funds to pay for damages to Israel's largest bus
company from Palestinian insurgency attacks.]
The suit marked the latest attempt by relatives of Israeli and American
victims to obtain financial compensation from Palestinian insurgency groups.
On July 12, the U.S. district court in Rhode Island awarded $116 million to
the parents and children of an Israeli couple killed by Hamas insurgents in
1996. The court ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay the damages to
Yaron Ungar and his wife, Efrat.
The U.S. court ruled that the PA and Palestine Liberation Organization
provided a safe haven and operational base for Hamas to carry out the
attack. In January 2004, the same court also ordered Hamas to pay a similar
The PA had been represented by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey
Clark, while Hamas did not contest the suit. The suit was filed in the
United States in 2000 under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the 1991 law that has
enabled American victims of terrorist attacks abroad to seek damages in U.S.