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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Attorney Vows Bank Won’t Escape Terror Costs

BROOKLYN (CN) - Arab Bank can't avoid liability for the deaths of thousands of Americans killed by Hamas-sponsored terrorists in Israel in the early 2000s, attorneys said in federal court.

The Amman, Jordan-based bank had sought a new trial after a jury found it liable in October for the deaths of American terror victims killed in 24 different attacks in Israel between 2000 and 2004 during the Second Intifada.

But attorney Gary Osen, who represented the plaintiffs and who sustained a decade-long trial, said the bank should have its feet held to the fire.

"Every argument they've made is an argument they've made before and lost on, so there's nothing here that's new from their standpoint," Osen told Courthouse News. "The evidence here of what they did is overwhelming."

He also said the bank knowingly did business with the "rock stars" of the terrorist world, and should be he held accountable.

"You don't want to let them get away with it," he said, admitting he finds it hard to escape, "that nagging feeling they've got all the money and the manpower in the world," and that he's fighting for the "shattered lives" of the victims killed in the attacks.

A new jury will decide damages.

Arab Bank has maintained its innocence, that it followed international banking laws and had no way of knowing with whom it was banking.

The bank called Osen's charges "high on rhetoric."

"The evidence at trial demonstrated that Arab Bank provided financial services in compliance with laws designed to counter-terrorism financing," the bank said in a statement. The bank called the jury's decision "misguided."

Arab Bank also pointed out that plaintiffs can't prove that it was a "factual and direct cause" of plaintiffs' clients' injuries or deaths.

According to Osen's brief, Arab Bank "knowingly transferred more than $36 million" to Hamas' "most senior leaders, operatives and institutions and knowingly and actively facilitated payments to the families of 24 Hamas suicide bombers and more than 150 Hamas operatives, more than 10 of whom were directly implicated in the specific acts of terrorism that killed and injured plaintiffs."

Osen says the bank "stonewalled" the jury and U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan during trial , and that it falsely but "loudly complained that the bank was the victim of an unjust 'show trial."

He also claimed during trial that the bank purposefully withheld bank records that he says would link it to Hamas business. The bank has maintained, however, that while it presented a mountain of documents as requested, it was precluded by Jordanian banking laws from releasing certain information.

Osen's filing also takes aim at the bank's "decade of scorched earth litigation tactics," after the protracted fight.

"The Bank did all these things while willfully withholding critical evidence, portraying itself to the public as a victim of the proceedings and exhibiting not one scintilla of remorse either for its litigation tactics or its responsibility for the death and injury of more than a thousand people," Osen said.

"The evidence of the bank's complicity in financing and supporting Hamas was unrefuted, the bank's own litigation strategy eviscerated its creditability before the jury and the liability verdict was not simply supported by - it was the only conceivable result of - the evidence presented," Osen wrote.

The bank's motion for a new trial "embodies the old cliché about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," Osen wrote. "None of the bank's arguments are new and none are any more compelling or persuasive than they were the first two, three or more times they [were] [sic] advanced. Taken as a whole, the bank's arguments are a testament to the defendant's abject contempt for its myriad victims, the court, the judicial process and the very idea of accountability under the law."

The bank was found liable for providing banking services for known Hamas leaders, and for paying out families of suicide attackers.

Osen attacked the bank's assertion during trial that it had no idea with whom it was banking. He said Wednesday that customers associated with Hamas were well-known in their communities and considered rock stars of the Middle East."

"Providing funds to a customer at the bank counter is not by itself a violent act or an act directly dangerous to human life," Osen wrote in his brief. "Neither is selling gasoline to a customer at the gas pump. But when one knows that the customer is throwing Molotov cocktails at a crowd next door, the sale of gasoline would 'involve' violent acts or acts dangerous to human life.:

The plaintiffs sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which lets Americans to seek compensation from terrorist attacks. Hamas was named a terrorist group by the United States in 1997.

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