Significance of case

MM-Law is proud to have partnered with several other law firms to launch the first major civil counter-terrorism lawsuit on behalf of U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizen victims of terrorist attacks against the Arab Bank, the largest bank in the Middle East.

Despite appeals from the Arab Bank, our plaintiffs have found success in this lawsuit, and the Arab Bank has already been forced to pay much of the settlement. Though the process is still ongoing, this case has made great strides in ensuring justice for the victims of the terrorist attacks that the Arab Bank intentionally funded. In the post-trial proceedings decision, the court even noted that the Bank’s liability is based “on volumes of damning circumstantial evidence that defendant knew its customers were terrorists,” a powerful nod to the victims that these wrongful acts will not go unnoticed.

case overview

Plaintiffs alleged that Arab Bank knowingly or intentionally funded over 400 terrorist attacks by, inter alia, transferring over $200 million from the Saudi Committee to Support the Al Quds Intifada and others to terrorists from 2001 to 2004. Our research task force has been able to document transfers to accounts opened by Arab Bank at its branches in the Palestinian territories for the benefit of the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists serving sentences for murder, assault and terrorist crimes. We were able to trace and map over a dozen “charitable organizations” which in fact were run by Hamas and other terrorists as fronts to channel and launder money. In addition, we have obtained evidence that Arab Bank held accounts for senior Hamas leaders, designated by the US government as terrorists.

Plaintiffs alleged that Arab Bank aided and abetted the perpetration of a systematic campaign of genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism and financing terrorism which resulted in the murder and maiming of thousands of victims.

Claims under the Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. § 1350) – non U.S. nationals

In 2007, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) denied the Bank’s motion to dismiss in an historic ruling, establishing the principle that financing terrorism is a violation of international law and the non-US citizens have standing to bring this lawsuit in federal courts of the United States.

In 2013, based upon the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“2nd Circuit”) in an unrelated case (Kiobels v. Shell) granted the Bank’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the claims brought by non-US citizens under the Anti-Terrorism Statute (ATS) (28 U.S.C. § 1350). The 2nd Circuit has held that corporation have absolute immunity under international law for perpetration of any international crime, including genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. All other US Courts of Appeals who have addressed this issue reject the approach of the 2nd Circuit. Our Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the US Supreme Court on this issue is pending.

Claims under the Anti-Terrorism Act (18 U.S.C. § 2333 et. Seq.) – U.S. nationals

In 2010 SDNY granted our motion for sanctions against defendant Arab Bank for its failure to produce documents in connection with bank accounts at Arab Bank branches in Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, the United Arab Republic and other countries. The Court ordered:

“At trial the jury will be instructed that, based on defendant’s failure to produce documents, it may, but is not required to infer: 1) that defendant provided financial services to organizations designated by the United States as Foreign Terrorist Organizations… (2) that defendant processed and distributed payments on behalf of the Saudi Committee to terrorists…and (3) that defendant did these acts knowingly and purposefully.”

Arab Bank’s attempts at appealing the sanctions have been unsuccessful. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court and the US Supreme Court denied Arab Bank’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

In April 2013 SDNY denied in part Arab Bank’s motion for summary judgment, permitting the claims brought by US citizens under the Anti-Terrorism Act (18 U.S.C. §2333 et seq.) to proceed to trial.

The case was tried before a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with respect to the Bank's liability for 24 attacks carried out by Hamas between 2001 and 2004. After a 6-week trial, on September 22, 2014, the jury found the bank liable for all 24 attacks. These include: the June 1, 2001 Dolphinarium attack in Tel Aviv, the August 9, 2001 Sbarro Pizzeria attack in Jerusalem, the September 19, 2002 Bus No. 4 attack in Tel Aviv, the April 30, 2003 Mike’s Place attack in Tel Aviv, and the August 19, 2003 Bus No. 2 attack in Jerusalem. (SDNY later vacated the judgments on two of the attacks).

On August 13, 2015, Arab Bank entered into a settlement agreement with all US national plaintiffs. Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential. Final pecuniary terms of the settlement will be affected by the outcome of an appeal on certain issues currently pending before the 2nd Circuit.