Arab Bank has been accused in court of fueling terrorism after specific bank transactions were found indicating that the recipients were members of Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. Arab Bank has its headquarters in Jordan. There were multiple transactions that drew the attention of the plaintiffs.
One transaction that drew attention was a transfer of $60,000 to a Hamas leader made in 2001. In other cases, transactions for transfers were coded with the account number of Osama Hamdan, a known spokesman for Hamas, and had “Hamas” as the designee. Investigators also found cash payments that were made on the behalf of a Saudi charity called the Saudi Committee that took a circuitous route through Jordan, then Ramallah before being sent to multiple branches of Arab Bank.
The case against Arab Bank is the first civil trial against a bank under the Antiterrorism Act. Nearly 300 plaintiffs were represented by several lawyers as the case began in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The plaintiffs are all victims or family members of victims of terrorist attacks linked to Hamas that occurred in the early 2000s.
Arab Bank denied wrongdoing and claimed that it took proper compliance steps by screening account holders and transactions against the lists of terrorists provided to them. According to Arab Bank, the transactions in question were made in error and slipped through the numerous safeguards that the bank had put into place. A lawyer for the bank claimed that Mr. Hamdan listed his profession as a merchant when the account was opened back in 1998. The account was not flagged as a potential violation because Mr. Hamdan was not added to the applicable terrorism lists until 2003.