American relatives of Hamas terror victims in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv took the Jordanian-based Arab Bank to court in New York, alleging that the bank processed payments for and funneled money to the terrorist organization—and won. A federal jury found Arab Bank liable Monday for “knowingly supporting terrorist efforts that were connected to 24 attacks in the Middle East,” the New York Times reports.
Specifically, the bank was found to have processed payments and transferred money for Hamas, ‘knowingly’ being the key term: Arab Bank has previously claimed that any payments to Hamas had been an error.
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.
It’s a major precedent-setting ruling—the civil case was the first such case against a bank to go to trial—that has implications for victims of terrorist attacks internationally. It also implies that the scope of terrorism networks, and the dark channels that fund attacks and, as in this case, compensate suicide bombers, are being fished up towards the surface.