Deal reached in Arab Bank suit over attacks

By Tom Hays
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit accusing a large Jordan-based bank of sharing responsibility for a wave of Hamas-sanctioned suicide bombings in the early 2000s that left several Americans dead or wounded, lawyers said last Friday.

Details of the deal between more than 300 plaintiffs and Arab Bank weren't disclosed. It came three days before the damages phase of the case was scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

"The parties have reached an agreement to settle the litigation. The framework will be finalized over the next few months," said attorney Michael Elsner, of Motley Rice LLC, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs. Arab Bank declined to discuss details.

The high-stakes legal offshoot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had pitted American victims of terror attacks in the early 2000s against an international bank with several branches in Gaza and the West Bank. The victims sued in 2004, accusing the bank of knowingly helping Hamas fund a "death and dismemberment benefit plan" for martyrs from the territories.

The jury heard Hamas experts and other plaintiff witnesses attempt to link extremists to Arab Bank accounts and detail how cash payments were funneled through the bank and into the hands of the families of suicide bombers. The defense argued that people the plaintiffs identified as Hamas operatives who did business with the bank weren't on a terrorist watch lists compiled by authorities in the United States and other Western nations.

It marked the first time a bank had faced a trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims of U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation. The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997.

Published: Tue, Aug 18, 2015