A group of 117 Americans whose relatives have been killed or injured in terror attacks in Israel sued the Jordan-based Arab Bank on Monday, charging that money transfers performed by the bank violate U.S. criminal and civil laws.
The plaintiffs are charging the bank with illegally funneling funds from Islamic charitable foundations and other bodies to recognized terrorist organizations, through its Madison Avenue branch in Manhattan. Recipients of the funds allegedly include Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Islamic Jihad.
The lawsuit was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
In Litle v. Arab Bank, the plaintiffs are seeking damages from the bank for providing insurance-type services to terrorist groups via accounts held directly in the name of Hamas and its many terrorist front groups.
The plaintiffs say the bank distributed death and dismemberment benefits to families of suicide bombers.
Arab Bank allegedly laundered funds, transferring money to the families of suicide bombers as incentives and rewards for their participation in murdering Americans and Israelis in Israel and in the territories. Money was converted into dollars and then re-routed to local branches of Arab Bank in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the lawsuit.
Each eligible Palestinian suicide bomber's family was allegedly encouraged to collect the terrorism payments through a local branch of Arab Bank in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
The plaintiffs include the families of Abigail Litle, a Baptist eighth grader active in Arab-Jewish co-existence projects; the family of Dr. David Applebaum, a trauma specialist from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and his daughter Naava, who were killed when a suicide bomber attacked Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem on the eve of Naava's wedding; and the family of Jack Baxter, an American filmmaker who was working on a documentary on terrorism entitled "Blues on the Beach" when he himself became a victim of the April 2003 terrorist attack at Mike's Place, a beachside bar in Tel Aviv.
The Litle lawsuit is being spearheaded by a consortium of American law firms led by Richard D. Heideman of Heideman Lezell Nudelman & Kalik, PC, in Washington, DC; Mark Werbner of Sayles Werbner in Dallas, Texas; and Steven R. Perles of The Perles Law Firm in Washington DC, who served as counsel in the similar case of Flatow vs. Iran.
"We have made some detailed allegations and intend to prove that Arab Bank is being used to help finance terrorist groups and that its New York branch has illegally laundered money to the terrorists and their families," said Werbner.