Sep 01

The Story Behind the Arab Bank Trial

When federal jurors in Brooklyn, N.Y., issued their recent liability verdict against Arab Bank, plc, for helping finance terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens, the unanimous decision moved the plaintiffs one step closer in their 10-year quest for justice.

The 11-person jury’s verdict followed 10 years of litigation and appeals up through the U.S. Supreme Court. The first trial involved 24 terrorist attacks that were perpetrated by Hamas, a Foreign Terrorist Organization, in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza between 2001 and 2004. Following six weeks of trial and two days of deliberations, the verdict marked the first time a financial institution has been held civilly liable for materially supporting terrorism.

At trial, the plaintiffs proved that Arab Bank knowingly provided material support to Hamas by illegally maintaining accounts for: Hamas itself, via an account held in the name of senior Hamas leader and spokesman Osama Hamdan; dozens of Hamas leaders and senior operatives, including its founder and supreme leader and the former head of its military operations; a dozen Hamas-controlled organizations in the Palestinian Territories; and the families of suicide bombers and other terrorist operatives through the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada al Quds.

The original lawsuit was filed in July 2004 by New Jersey attorney Gary M. Osen of Osen LLC. Three groups of plaintiffs ultimately filed lawsuits against Arab Bank, with the claims of nearly 300 U.S. victims of the 24 Hamas attacks consolidated at trial. In addition to Osen, the trial team included C. Tab Turner of Turner & Associates, Michael Elsner of Motley Rice, and Mark Werbner of Sayles Werbner, who was joined by co-counsel Jonathan David of The David Law Firm, Richard Heideman of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, and James Bonner of Stone Bonner & Rocco.

The September 22, 2014, verdict earned international headlines after jurors determined that Arab Bank should be held responsible for its role in the 24 separate terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas.

The jury’s decision finding Arab Bank liable will be followed by a damages phase that has not yet been scheduled by the court.

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