US court rejects Arab Bank terror-financing verdict

Acting on a technicality, a federal court rejected a 2014 jury verdict that found Arab Bank liable in suicide bombings in Israel that harmed Americans.

By: AP

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a 2014 jury verdict that found the Jordan-based Arab Bank liable in suicide bombings in Israel, triggering an already-reached settlement between the bank and the victims, including American citizens, in the closely watched case.

The ruling by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals found a lower-court judge gave faulty instructions to the jury and normally would have set the stage for a retrial, but the litigants negotiated how to settle the case under terms dictated by how the appeals court ruled.

The terms were undisclosed, but it was believed the decision rejecting the verdict means that the bank will make lower payouts to American victims of the deadly wave of Hamas attacks in Israel in the early 2000s.

Prosecutor Gary Osen said the plaintiffs would have liked “a sweeping victory” but were still “very satisfied” with the result.

“The plaintiffs will receive meaningful and very substantial compensation for their injuries, and today’s decision doesn’t diminish the fact a jury found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting Hamas,” Osen said.

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In a statement, Arab Bank said it was thankful the ruling brings the case to a close, adding it “continues to believe that the District Court’s errors at trial all but dictated an adverse outcome.”

The victims had sued the international bank, which has several branches in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, in 2004. At a 2014 trial, the jury heard Hamas experts and other plaintiff witnesses try to link terrorists to Arab Bank accounts and detail how the bank distributed millions of dollars to finance suicide bombings and make “martyrdom” payments to reward the families of terrorists who killed civilians.

It marked the first time a bank had faced a trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims of US-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation.

The US Department of State designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997.