Bloomberg News reported this afternoon that the Arab Bank, the biggest lender in Jordan and one of the largest in the Middle East, has been found liable for helping "Hamas militants carry out a wave of violence in Israel that killed and wounded hundreds of Americans."
The Amman-based lender did business with more than 150 Hamas leaders and operatives in the early 2000s, helping finance about two dozen suicide bombings and other attacks, jurors decided today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
The case highlights the ways banks can play a role in funding terrorist groups and the extent to which they can be held responsible for monitoring their customers, even those who aren’t on government lists of terrorists. Credit Lyonnais SA and Bank of China Ltd. are facing similar cases in the U.S., alleging they served as conduits for terrorism financing.
The plaintiffs were nearly 300 Americans who were victims or were related to victims of Hamas attacks.
The burden of proof was high: The plaintiffs had to prove that the terrorist attacks were indeed conducted by Hamas, and that the bank’s support of Hamas was the “proximate cause” of the events. In addition, the plaintiffs had to demonstrate that their injuries were “reasonably foreseeable” as a consequence of the bank’s acts.
After 10 years of litigation and a five-week trial, the jury apparently found that the plaintiffs met the legal threshold, and ruled that the bank was liable. A separate hearing will be held to determine damages.
The verdict in the trial, which started in August, "was the first against a bank on civil claims of violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, making the verdict a potential industry landmark," according to Bloomberg.