NEW YORK, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a stunning victory for more than 1,600 survivors and family members of those killed by terrorism in Israel, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon issued a major ruling that is expected to lead to a trial for their landmark civil action against Arab Bank. Judge Gershon rejected the bulk of a defense motion to dismiss the case, ruling instead that suicide bombing attacks and other forms of violence directed against civilians in Israel violate customary international law, that "plaintiffs have successfully stated claims for genocide and crimes against humanity," and that plaintiffs have established a cause of action under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Antiterrorism Act. She found that the plaintiffs had pled sufficient evidence that "Arab Bank's provision of banking services facilitated money laundering and also facilitated the payments from [a Saudi Arabian] Committee to the suicide bombers' beneficiaries," creating "an incentive for suicide bombings." "This is a great victory for everyone -- not just those of us who have had our loved ones savagely murdered in acts of terrorism, but for everyone who loves and wants peace," said Iris Almog Schwartz, an Israeli citizen who lost her mother, father, brother and two nephews in the suicide bombing of Restaurant Maxim in Haifa on October 4, 2003. "Judge Gershon's ruling shows great wisdom in finding that the terrorists' campaign of mass murder of innocent civilians qualifies as genocide and crimes against humanity, and in holding the financiers of these atrocities accountable," Schwarz said. "We eagerly look forward to having our day in court." "I am deeply grateful," Schwarz added, "that the United States Courts remain a beacon to people of all nations who yearn for a world free from terror where justice prevails." "This is a remarkable, precedent-setting ruling that makes clear that no matter where they are located, any organization or individual that aids and abets genocide and crimes against humanity cannot evade accountability in the U.S. Courts," said Ron Motley, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "It not only means that our clients will have the opportunity to win justice; it also strikes a major blow against the financial networks that make terrorism possible." The civil action, Almog, et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC, was brought in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of New York under two civil laws. The Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 gives non-U.S. citizens access to the U.S. Courts to seek justice for violations of "the law of nations," such as genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism, no matter where they occur. The Antiterrorism Act of 1990 gives U.S. citizens who have been injured or whose loved ones have been killed by acts of terrorism the right to seek justice from those who financed these atrocities. In her ruling, Judge Gershon wrote that plaintiffs "adequately allege Arab Bank's knowledge that its assistance would facilitate the terrorist organizations in accomplishing the underlying violations of the law of nations and that its provision of banking and administrative services substantially assisted the perpetration of those violations. Arab Bank provided practical assistance to the organizations sponsoring the suicide bombings and helped them further their goal of encouraging bombers to serve as 'martyrs.'" "[P]laintiffs have sufficiently alleged facts giving rise to Arab Bank's liability for aiding and abetting the violations of the law of nations alleged here," she concluded. The plaintiffs in Almog and a companion case, Afriat-Kurtzer v. Arab Bank, either lost loved ones or were injured as a result of suicide bombings and other atrocities perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist groups against Israel. They include 30 citizens of the United States, as well as citizens of Israel, Russia, France, Poland, Romania, Argentina, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Afghanistan. With approximately 3,000 plaintiffs joining the case since the defendants' motion to dismiss was first filed, they now number 4,657. Arab Bank is headquartered in Amman, Jordan, and is one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, with a global network of more than 400 branches and offices in 25 countries, including the United States. Arab Bank has 22 local branches throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The plaintiffs are represented by Motley Rice LLC, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and other leading international, finance and anti-terrorism attorneys in the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom.
SOURCE Motley Rice LLC