Arab Bank: Lack of proof Hamas funds went to terrorists

Hamas official tells umbrella Hamas-funding group they are ‘room full of terrorists’.

A plaintiffs’ lawyer said the bank required “all their employees to donate 5% of their salaries” to the intifada.

In one of the dramatic key moments of the historic Arab Bank terror finance trial, the plaintiffs on Tuesday showed a video in which a top Hamas official told a conference of the “Union of Good” umbrella Hamas-funding group that they are a room full of terrorists.

US Supreme Court

US Supreme Court. – Photo: REUTERS

Top Hamas expert Dr. Matthew Levitt, may be the key witness in the case, testified regarding the video that the Saudi Committee, which Arab Bank transferred voluminous funds to, is essentially an alter ego of Hamas’ Union of Good in a “web of charity organizations” providing cover for the funds’ terror purposes.

This past Thursday, 297 plaintiffs and powerhouse Arab Bank made their opening statements in what could be the terror finance trial of the century with the plaintiffs telling the jury that “you will see bank records in black and white that say ‘Hamas'” as proof that the bank knew it was being used to fund terror.

One of the lead plaintiffs’ lawyers, Mark Werbner continued on Thursday before New York federal Judge Brian Cogan, that evidence would show that the bank required “all their employees to donate 5% of their salaries” to the intifada.

The case involves allegations by the plaintiffs that Arab Bank, essentially Jordan’s sovereign bank and one of the largest in the Middle East with branches in 30 countries, facilitated massive transfer of funds to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of imprisoned Hamas members and suicide bombers, via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation, mostly between 1998-2004 (though evidence has focused on 2001-2004.) The plaintiffs allege that Arab Bank knew that the funds related to terrorists and terror groups, and is thus civilly liable for wrongful death damages relating to the killing of their family members resulting from terror attacks perpetrated using the transferred funds.

Arab Bank has said there is a lack of proof the funds went to terrorists, that the funds contributed directly and sufficiently to terror attacks and that the bank had any knowledge of a connection to terror.

Levitt is a former FBI Counter-terrorism Analyst and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence at US Treasury, has written authoritatively about Hamas and has testified in cases relating to Hamas several times in the past.

Levitt said he was there to help the jury learn “Hamas 101,” telling the jury that the terror funds in question “is absolutely essential, it is the lifeblood” for terror groups.

The former US counter-terror expert went through a veritable rolodex of Hamas leaders that the US and other countries designated as terrorists, repeatedly being asked to spell them out by the court reporter.

Levitt talked about the charities working with Hamas, saying, “These weren’t stove-piped entities. There’s a network working together.” Despite this point, Levitt said that the different charities operating under Hamas don’t “put a shingle out there” that says Hamas in the EU or the US, but they openly publicize in the Palestinian areas.

The political, charitable, and militant terrorist branches of Hamas work together and support each other like three legs of a stool, said Levitt. In a powerful moment which was later stricken from the official record, but was heard in full by the jury, Levitt took aim at the bank’s main defense that since it allegedly checked US terror watch-lists, an the terrorists who received funds from the bank ere not listed, it could not be liable.

Levitt said, “If someone’s not designated, doesn’t mean they’re on a white list,” adding “just checking the Treasury list is absolutely insufficient” and is just a starting point.

On the flip side, the bank could argue that most of the entities mentioned by Levitt were designated after the time at issue in this case.

The bank might also say that much of the source material that Levitt used in his testimony to form his opinion is post the time frame at issue in this case.

For example, information Levitt included regarding German designation of certain fund-recipients as terrorists and related intelligence were not publicly available nor necessarily available to banks during the relevant time period to the case.

Besides Levitt’s testimony, graphic footage was shown to explain Hamas’ ideology including of children dressed up as soldiers, including one dressed as a mock suicide bomber with fake dynamite strapped to his chest and mock kidnappings of an Israeli solider.

On Monday, Evan Kohlmann, another expert on the organizational structure of Hamas had testified. The trial continues next week with the plaintiffs’ case expected to run for all or most of the week.


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