NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 700 survivors and family
members of those killed or maimed by terrorism in Israel today filed an
unprecedented international civil action in the U.S. Courts against Arab Bank,
PLC, charging that it provides financial services and support for the
terrorists' campaign of genocide, and that it encourages the recruitment of
The plaintiffs, citizens of the United States, Israel and 10 other
countries, are taking this action to cut off the financial pipeline fueling
the effort by Hamas and other terrorist groups to drive the Israeli people out
of the Middle East, in the process killing more than 1,000 innocent people and
injuring more than 8,000.
"The terrorists have declared war on us, ordinary civilians, but today, we
are striking back non-violently with the most powerful weapon we have - the
U.S. Courts," said Iris Almog Schwartz, an Israeli citizen who lost her
mother, father, brother and two nephews in the October 4, 2003 suicide bombing
of Restaurant Maxim in Haifa. The attack seriously injured her two sisters, a
nephew and a niece. "With this action, we will stop Arab Bank from supporting
Hamas' campaign of genocide against the Israeli people and cripple terrorism,"
"When it comes to terrorism, handing out the cash is no different than
planning the attacks or detonating a bomb," said Joshua Faudem, a Detroit
native who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship and was injured in the April
30, 2002 bombing of Mike's Place bar in Tel Aviv.
"What happened at Mike's Place could happen tonight at a bar here in
Brooklyn," Faudem added. "It could happen anywhere. That's why it's everyone's
responsibility to stop terrorist funding."
"Money contains two links of the chain of evil -- terrorism and genocide,"
said Yossi Mendellevich, whose 13-year-old son, Yuval Mendellevich was killed
in a March 2003 bus bombing in Haifa. "The first part pays for the terrorist
infrastructure up front -- the bombs, the hideouts, the cars. The second part
provides the motivation for people to become terrorists and engage in
genocidal mass murder -- the money paid to the families of suicide bombers.
But through today's action, we will break the chain and uphold the rule of
"We are here today to cut off the funding of terrorists, to stop all the
killing, and to end the suffering of families on both sides," said Yoheved
Franco, who lost her 18 year-old daughter, Keren Franco, in a suicide bombing
on Egged bus #960, en route from Haifa to Jerusalem, on October 4, 2002.
The civil action, Almog, et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC, was brought under two
U.S. civil laws. The Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 grants 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.
"This action goes to the core of what makes our nation great," said Ron
Motley, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "Here we have a law signed by none
other than George Washington that uniquely empowers citizens of other
countries to take action to stop the genocide that Palestinian terrorists are
waging against the Israeli people. This stands as a tribute to the wisdom of
our founding fathers and their enduring values of freedom and justice. Today,
in that spirit, we point out the direct causal relationship between terror
financing and terrorist attacks. Both are inextricably linked."
Dr. Allan Gerson, co-lead counsel, noted that for American plaintiffs,
"Congress and the executive branch made clear in both the Antiterrorism Act
and the USA Patriot Act that U.S. citizens have not only the right but the
obligation to use the courts to stop terrorism.
"Clearly, the defendant provided organized and systematic financial
services that served to create and sustain an economic infrastructure for a
highly organized campaign of genocidal terrorism," Gerson said. "Arab Bank's
New York branch even processed money from Saudi Arabia and sent it to the bank
accounts of the families of suicide bombers in the West Bank. Justice demands
that the families of the victims of terrorism receive compensation from those
who facilitated and profited from these payoffs."
Almog, et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC, was filed today in United States District
Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Complaint notes that Hamas,
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and the Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine "have long and openly adhered to a shared mission:
to topple and eradicate the State of Israel [and] to expel the Jews" by
conducting "suicide bombings and other shockingly egregious violent acts which
constitute violations of fundamental and universally recognized precepts of
international law ... "
"To successfully plan, fund, and carry out these attacks, [the four
terrorist organizations] rely upon an open, notorious, and formalized system
of terrorist financing which incentivizes and incites the attacks by paying
families of suicide bombers," the Complaint alleges. It cites a BBC interview
with a 15-year-old would-be suicide bomber captured by Israeli soldiers who
said that the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade "told me, once you carry out the
operation and the soldiers come and demolish your home, we'll stand by your
parents and rebuild your house and give them money."
Arab Bank empowered these terrorist groups "by serving as the 'paymaster'
to the families of those terrorists who carried out suicide bombings," the
Complaint charges. In particular, the defendant served, among other things,
as the banker for a massive, government-supported fundraising campaign in
Saudi Arabia that has funneled more than $4 billion from public and private
Saudi sources to Palestinian terrorist groups and the families of suicide
bombers. Arab Bank created and managed a formalized process which required
beneficiaries to obtain an official certification of their deceased relative's
status as a suicide bomber before receiving money.
Arab Bank's New York office was central to this operation, the Complaint
alleges. Because the Saudi terrorist support committees "raised funds in Saudi
Riyals, which cannot conveniently be converted into Israeli currency (most
commonly used in Palestinian controlled areas), Arab Bank converted those
funds into U.S. dollars through its New York branch and then routed the funds
back to its local branches."
"The victims are not willing to sit back and do nothing," said Jason
McCue, a British-based attorney for the plaintiffs. "When governments are
unable to effectively tackle these issues for one reason or another, private
initiatives by the victims become a legitimate means to fight the war on
terror. Indeed, these proceedings will be the first opportunity for victims of
different terrorist atrocities to unite as a community to challenge both
terrorism and the global corporate banking system that is used by it and
Gavriel Mairone, an Israeli-based attorney for the plaintiffs, commented
that, "International terrorism cannot be defeated solely by military might or
police action. Attorneys have a duty to help victims rebuild their shattered
lives and seek compensation from the terrorists and the greedy profiteers of
terrorist organizations. At the same time, we can create a real disincentive
for the terrorists and the banks and others engaging in the business of
supporting terrorism for profit. This is the first step in our campaign
seeking global justice."
"We will pursue the financiers of terrorism to the ends of the earth,"
said David Mena, counsel to the Representative Organization of Israel's Terror
The plaintiffs in Almog, et al. v. Arab Bank, PLC, include citizens of the
United States, Israel, Russia, France, Poland, Romania, Argentina, Ukraine,
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Afghanistan.
The defendant 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 does business in every Arab country where private banking is permitted,
and has 22 local branches throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In
addition, Arab Bank has operated a federally chartered branch in New York city
for 20 years.
Counsel for the plaintiffs include Motley, Jodi Flowers, Don Migliori,
Michael Elsner, Justin Kaplan and John Eubanks of Motley Rice LLC, Mt.
Pleasant, S.C., the firm that also serves as lead counsel to the 9/11 Families
United to Bankrupt Terrorism; Gerson, who broke new legal ground in helping
the families of those who lost their lives on Pan Am Flight 103 pursue their
claims against Libya; McCue of H2O Law, London, U.K., who brought the first
civil action in the world against terrorists (against the Real IRA for the
Omagh bombing); Mairone of Mann & Mairone, Ramat Gan, Israel, who is widely
recognized as a top security, intelligence and legal expert on Middle Eastern
terrorism; and Mena of David Mena & Co. Law Offices, a former member of the
Knesset. Serving as special counsel is Lee Wolosky of Boies, Schiller &
Flexner LLP, New York, who was director for transnational threats on the
National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
The plaintiffs are utilizing a multinational research team of investigative,
counterterrorism and intelligence experts.
SOURCE Motley Rice LLC