The Wall Street Journal
December 3, 2010
WASHINGTON — Jordan is stepping up efforts to shield its biggest bank from several lawsuits in New York that claim it helped fund terrorist operations, cases that are stirring tensions between the U.S. and one of its closest Middle East allies.
A set of related U.S. civil suits filed in federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y., against Arab Bank PLC allege the bank knowingly routed compensation payments from Saudi donors to suicide bombers’ families. The suits’ plaintiffs also allege the bank helped finance groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the U.S. considers terrorist organizations. Arab Bank denies the charges.
Jordan has taken the rare step of intervening directly on behalf of Arab Bank, following a series of what people familiar with the matter say were unsuccessful attempts to get the U.S. government to weigh in on the case.
In a brief last month, Jordan backed an Arab Bank appeal that argued that the U.S. judge hearing the cases is unfairly punishing the bank for failing to turn over what it says are confidential client records. Jordan’s brief said the judge’s sanctions could be both ruinous for the bank and “potentially calamitous” for the economies of the Middle East.
It also suggested that key U.S. foreign policy goals in the region —such as fighting terrorism or pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians— could be endangered. The matter shows the uncomfortable choices the U.S. government faces as terrorism victims pursue justice in the country’s courts…
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