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Does Arab Bank support terror?

The bank, which Israeli officials call "the Grand Central Station of terrorist financing," has been forced to shut down much of its U.S. operation but remains a dominant player in the Middle East

The article [source here] is based on NBC TV's May 2005 investigation of the involvement of Arab Bank in the funding and support of acts of murder and terror, including the murder of Malka Chana Roth and fourteen other innocent people in the Sbarro restaurant massacre, 9th August 2001. A video clip, embedded within the original article, can be viewed at the end of the article, below.

The Role of Arab Bank: Terror ties at a Middle Eastern bank?

Arab Bank Headquarters in AmmanAMMAN, Jordan - August 2001: A suicide bomber hits the Sbarro pizza parlor in Jerusalem, killing 15 people, including an American — Shoshana Greenbaum, a pregnant schoolteacher. The Palestinian bomber's name was Izz Ad-Din Al-Masri. His parents told NBC News that soon after the bombing a group that helps families of suicide bombers told them they'd be compensated for their son's "sacrifice."

"They told me to go to the Arab Bank and open an account, and you will receive a salary," says the bomber's father, Shuhail Ahmed Al-Masri. He says almost immediately, he began receiving $140 a month. And after the Israelis leveled his house, he says he was told to go to the bank and pick up more money — $6,000.

Al-Masri's father says he was told to open an account at the Arab Bank branch in the West Bank settlement of Jenin. There, he says he's received money almost every month for the last three years. The branch, plastered with posters eulogizing suicide bombers, isn't the only one allegedly paying bombers' families. An ad in a Palestinian newspaper told dozens of martyrs' families to pick up money at the nearest branchof the Arab Bank.

"Those types of payments are aiding and abetting terrorism," says Jimmy Gurule, a former official at the U.S. Treasury Department who was in charge of cutting off money to terrorists.

The FBI tells NBC News that it's now conducting a criminal investigation into the Arab Bank's alleged movement of funds for suspected terrorists. The investigation was triggered after U.S. regulators examined Arab Bank operations in New York City on Madison Avenue. U.S. officials tell NBC News that regulators found that the bank had 40 to 60 suspected terrorists and groups as customers. They were allegedly associated with al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah. Officials say all had accounts with the bank or had moved money through the New York office.

"I'm not aware of another situation involving a bank operating in the U.S. that has conducted itself in such a manner," says Gurule. Arab Bank headquarters in Amman - Terror central?

The Arab Bank, headquartered in Jordan, turned down repeated requests for an interview, so NBC visited bank headquarters in Amman. And only got as far as the lobby.

Lisa Myers: Does the bank support terrorism?

Omar Al-Sheik, Arab Bank official: Of course not.

Myers: Does the bank believe it's proper to move money to help terrorists?

Omar Al-Sheik: Of course not.

In a statement, the Arab Bank denies ever knowingly doing business with terrorists. And officials insist the bank has never moved money for anyone officially designated a terrorist by the U.S. government.

However, NBC News provided the bank with documents showing it dealt with three Hamas terror groups even after they were blacklisted by the United States. It's against the law for banks in the United States to handle transactions for terrorists on the blacklist.

The bank says the three transactions still were legal because they occurred outside the United States but that in the future it will honor the U.S. blacklist worldwide.

As for suicide bombers, the Arab Bank strongly denies ever knowingly handling payments for bombers' families. Their statement reads, in part: "Arab Bank considers suicide bombings an abominable human act."

Then what about that ad telling bombers' families to collect money at the Arab Bank? The bank says it didn't place the ad.

After NBC News provided account numbers for the Al-Masri family, the bank froze the account, which the bank claims was opened before the bombing.

Shoshana Greenbaum's father, who moved to Israel after her death, is now suing the bank.

"This organization, if allowed to continue with a mere slap on the wrist, would be sending a message that it's perfectly all right to support terrorism," says Alan Hayman.

The bank, which Israeli officials call "the Grand Central Station of terrorist financing," has been forced to shut down much of its U.S. operation but remains a dominant player in the Middle East.

[Online here]

A criminal investigation is under way into a prominent Middle Eastern bank's possible involvement with dozens of suspected terrorists. NBC's Lisa Myers reports. [Click the image below to view the NBC investigative video report.]

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Selected updates

Jordan Times | Arab Bank ‘will use all options’ to disprove claims it financed terrorism
Omar Obeidat - Jordan Times [15th July 2010]

AMMAN –– Arab Bank on Wednesday said it will exercise all legal options to disprove accusations that it provided banking services to terrorist groups.

Hundreds of Israelis have filed lawsuits in a New York federal court against Arab Bank for allegedly holding accounts that financed attacks which killed members of their families.

On Tuesday, the Amman-based bank was sanctioned by a judge for failing to turn over documents requested in the case.

US District Judge Nina Gershon said in a ruling in Brooklyn, New York, that she would instruct jurors they may infer that the bank provided financial services to groups designated as terrorist organisations by the US and that it processed payments on behalf of a group called the Saudi Committee for the Support of Al Quds Intifada.

The bank’s legal adviser, Bob Chlopak, from Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates in Washington, DC, told The Jordan Times yesterday by e-mail: “Arab Bank has not and does not provide banking services to known terrorists or terrorist organisations.” 

“The banking services it provided to the Saudi Committee and those related to other alleged claims in this lawsuit were routine and lawful,” he added.

Commenting on the ruling that the financial institution has failed to produce requested documents, the lawyer’s statement said that “in compliance with the New York court’s orders in this litigation, Arab Bank hasproduced hundreds of thousands of documents and successfully sought waivers from bank secrecy laws in several countries where it operates”.

“Where the bank was unable to obtain such waivers from the appropriate authorities in certain countries, it elected not to violate these laws,” the statement said, adding the bank's actions were taken in good faith.

“We look forward to exercising all of our legal options regarding the ruling and proving the falsity of the plaintiffs’ claims at trial,” the statement noted.

In April of this year, Arab Bank filed with the US court a document provided by the Israeli military acknowledging that the bank has no links to terrorist activities, which it said was consistent with the bank’s stand that the “claims in the pending lawsuits have no merit”.

On February 25, 2004, Israeli troops, assisted by police and Shin Bet forces, raided the Arab Bank branch in Ramallah, seizing 40 million Israeli shekels ($10.8 million) from a number of accounts, as well as bank records.

“Seizure and confiscation of the monies in the aforementioned accounts was not based on information that indicated that the bank or any of its employees were involved in any way whatsoever in terrorist activities, or funded terrorism, whether regarding the aforementioned accounts, or in general,” said the Israeli military’s statement, which was translated from Hebrew and made available to The Jordan Times.

“Further to that set forth above, no legal or administrative steps were taken against the bank or its directors [by Israeli authorities] for involvement in acts of terrorism or in funding terrorism, whether regarding the aforementioned accounts, or in general,” the statement added.

Israeli authorities “have no intention of taking steps against Arab Bank for involvement in terrorist acts or in funding terrorism”, the statement concluded.

Arab Bank, which was first established in Jerusalem in 1930, is the largest privately owned financial institution in the Arab world. With a capital of over $30 billion, the bank operates through more than 500 branches in 30 countries across five continents.

Bloomberg Businessweek | Arab Bank Sanctioned by Judge in Terrorism Suits
July 13, 2010, 4:52 PM EDT

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Arab Bank Plc, accused in lawsuits by U.S. victims of terrorist attacks in Israel of administering payments to Palestinian suicide bombers’ families, was sanctioned by a judge for failing to turn over documents.

U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in Brooklyn, New York, said in a ruling yesterday that she will instruct jurors they may infer that Jordan-based Arab Bank provided financial services to groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. and that it processed payments on behalf of a group called the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Intifada Al Quds.

“I am satisfied that plaintiffs have shown the high likelihood that the withheld documents would show repeated transfers by the bank to terrorists, terrorist organizations, or their fronts, or on their behalf,” Gershon wrote.

The plaintiffs claim that Arab Bank handled death benefits of $5,300 each from the Saudi Committee to the families of suicide bombers. The plaintiffs claim that by providing the financial services, the bank aided and abetted the attacks in which they were wounded and members of their families were killed.

“In compliance with the New York court’s orders in this litigation, Arab Bank has produced hundreds of thousands of documents and successfully sought waivers from bank secrecy laws in several countries where it operates,” the bank said in a statement e-mailed by spokesman Robert Chlopak. “Where the bank was unable to obtain such waivers from the appropriate authorities in certain countries, it elected not to violate these laws. The Bank’s actions were taken in good faith.”

The lead case is Linde v. Arab Bank Plc, 04-cv-02799, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

--Editors: Charles Carter, Michael Hytha.
To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in New York at
To contact the editor responsible for this report: David E. Rovella at

New York Times | Bank Hit With Sanctions in Suit Over Terrorist Aid
Published: July 13, 2010

A bank based in Jordan that had been accused of providing financial services to terrorists was hit with judicial sanctions on Tuesday for repeatedly failing to obey a court order to produce requested documents in the case — a six-year-old lawsuit filed by the victims of terrorist attacks.

Judge Nina Gershon of United States District Court in Brooklyn said that the “recalcitrance” of Arab Bank in releasing records required her, out of fairness to the plaintiffs, to instruct the jury that it may infer that the bank knowingly and purposefully worked on behalf of the terrorist organizations, including processing and distributing payments made by a Saudi organization to the relatives of suicide bombers. “The withheld evidence is not only relevant but also essential to proof of their claims,” she wrote.

A trial date has not been set.

The decision represents a major setback for Arab Bank, which has said it is unwilling to release the documents in question because they cannot be disclosed without violating foreign bank secrecy laws — an argument that the court previously rejected. The bank released a statement after the ruling saying it was examining its legal options.

“In compliance with the New York court’s orders in this litigation, Arab Bank has produced hundreds of thousands of documents and successfully sought waivers from bank secrecy laws in several countries where it operates,” the statement said. “Where the bank was unable to obtain such waivers from the appropriate authorities in certain countries, it elected not to violate these laws. The bank’s actions were taken in good faith.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs — which include about 100 Americans and 700 foreigners, mostly Israelis, who were injured or killed during attacks in Israel and their family members — praised the decision. They said the documents that they had sought, including internal e-mail messages and memos, would have demonstrated that the bank was aware of the identity of its customers.

“This will be a precedent that will help victims of terrorism bring cases against banks and others who help finance terrorism,” said Mark Werbner, one of the lawyers.

The lawsuit, which was the first to go after an international bank for its role in financing terrorism when it was filed in 2004, alleges that Arab Bank administered the accounts of the Saudi Committee in Support of the Intifada Al Quds, which provided payments of $5,316 to the families of Palestinians who were killed in attacks on Israel, including suicide bombers. It also alleges that the bank administers accounts for other individuals and organizations involved in terrorism, including Hamas.

The bank, which said it had assets of $50 billion and operations in more than 30 countries worldwide, including a branch in New York, has strongly denied that it knowingly provided banking services to terrorists, calling its actions routine and lawful. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the bank agreed to pay a $24 million civil fine for having inadequate controls to protect against money laundering at the New York branch. (This May it closed two of its three branches in the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled by Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe.)

Judge Gershon said that the public record was already sufficient to demonstrate that the Arab Bank withheld evidence that would support the plaintiffs’ claims, pointing to the bank’s admission that it maintained accounts for individuals and organizations involved with terrorism and allowed transfers to them.

“I am satisfied that plaintiffs have shown the high likelihood that the withheld documents would show repeated transfers by the bank to terrorists, terrorist organizations or their fronts, or on their behalf,” she wrote.

A version of this article appeared in print on July 14, 2010, on page A22 of the New York edition.

Arab Bank Case Ruling: A Victory for Victims of Terrorism
Victor Comras | Counter Terrorism Blog

[July 16, 2010 01:32 PM] It looks like the 6 year old Linde v Arab Bank case may finally move into its trial on the merits phase following a ruling July 12th by US District Court Judge Nina Gershon that:

"The factual allegations of the complaints sufficiently support an inference that Arab Bank and the terrorist organizations were participants in a common plan under which Arab Bank would supply necessary financial services to the organizations which would themselves perform the violent acts. Administering the death and dismemberment benefit plan further supports not only the existence of an agreement but Arab Bank's knowing and intentional participation in the agreement's illegal goals. No more is required."

The case had been locked in its discovery phase for some time pending rulings on Arab Bank’s refusal to provide documentation concerning such financial transfers. Plaintiffs maintained that such documents, if provided, would establish that Arab Bank participated knowingly in this money raising and transferring scheme. Arab Bank’s attorneys maintained that they were precluded from providing such documents because of Jordanian and other country bank secrecy laws. The ruling reflects Judge Gershon’s determination that the refusal to comply with the court's order that such documents be made available to the plaintiffs pursuant to discovery requests merits legal sanctions against Arab Bank. And, the judge's instruction to the jury that they can draw the above inference from this lack of production of such documents is the appropriate remedy. This ruling is fully in line with legal precedent in such cases of non production of court ordered documents.

The Linde case was brought before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in July 2004 by six American families, victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel during the Al Aqsa Intifada. They sued Jordan's Arab Bank under section 2333 of the Anti Terrorism Act of 1996 alleging that Arab Bank had encouraged such terrorism by disbursing millions of dollars in support payment for families of suicide bombers, which served as a further incentive for attacks.

Section 2333 provides that “Any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue {in Federal Court} … and … recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees.” The District Court also permitted foreign nationals to join the lawsuit via the Alien Torts Claims Act. Currently, more than 100 families and 700 individuals in the Linde case and related cases are seeking more than $1 billion in damages based on Arab Bank’s role in financially supporting terrorist activities. The foreign nationals consist mostly of Israeli citizens but also include Afghani, Argentinian, Australian, Belarusian, Canadian, French, Iranian, Iraqi, Peruvian, South African, Turkmenian, Ukranian, and Uzbeki citizens.

The payments were transferred by Arab Bank to and through several charities that allegedly serve as fronts for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. These funds were originally collected by two special committees established in Saudi Arabia with the stated intention of raising funds for the families of those carrying out suicide missions at the behest of the named terrorist organizations. Some of these funds were routed through Arab Bank’s New York office in order to convert the funds into U.S. dollars. The Palestinian charities named in the suit include, inter alia, the Popular Committee for Support of the Intifada (the “Popular Committee”), the Coalition of Benevolence (the “Coalition”), the Humanitarian Relief Association (the “HRA”), the Al-Ansar Society, and the Tulkarem Charitable Committee.

The Arab Bank case will likely move forward before a jury at the same time as Canada’s Parliament takes up new legislation that would also grant victims of terrorism the right to hold those that finance terrorism liable for damages. Final Parliamentary committee hearings on this legislation were held earlier this month, and passage of the act is expected when Parliament reconvenes in October. This is due in large part to the unceasing efforts of C-CAT, the Canadian Coalition Against Terrorism, which has become the leading voice for victims of terrorism in Canada. I had an opportunity to testify in the course of these hearings. A webcast of the hearings can be found here.

CounterTerrorism Blog [] is the first multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers. Designed to provide realtime information about terrorism cases and policy developments.

The screen shot at left shows the father of the terrorist who brought the bomb into the Sbarro restaurant on 9th August 2001, killing 15 people including Malki Roth.

The astonishing allegations made by him on the American television network NBC in 2005 against Arab Bank, one of the largest and most powerful financial institutions in the Middle East, are recounted in the NBC Nightly News article republished below.

Los Angeles Times: "Arab Bank accused of funding terrorists"



Who is included under the business name Arab Bank? The bank's website gives this explanation:

"Arab Bank refers to Arab Bank plc and subsidiaries. 

  • Arab Bank plc comprises of Arab Bank branches worldwide.

  • Arab Bank subsidiaries include the following: Europe Arab Bank plc – London; Arab Bank Australia LTD – Sydney; Arab Tunisian Bank - Tunis; Islamic International Arab Bank plc – Amma; Al Arabi Investment Group – Amman; Arab National Leasing Company – Amman

Click to view the NBC video [If this link does not work, try the one at the foot of the NBC article at left.]

Wall Street Journal- April 2005: "Compound Interests: Arab Bank's Link to Terrorism Poses Dilemma for U.S. Policy

"Chronicling an Act of Barbarism"


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