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
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
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
"[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