August 8, 2014
A federal courtroom in Brooklyn will host a high-stakes offshoot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict next week, as lawyers for Americans killed and injured in terrorist attacks seek millions of dollars from the Jordanian bank they say is responsible for their losses.
Having failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in its favor, Arab Bank faces a jury trial over claims it knowingly served as a conduit for millions of dollars that a Saudi charity and others paid to Hamas operatives and the families of “martyrs” who were killed in suicidal attacks in Israel and the occupied territories. Linde v. Arab Bank has drawn the attention of the Obama administration, which says it could harm the government’s foreign relations and antiterrorism efforts and make it difficult for foreign banks to operate in strife-torn areas. The lawyers representing plaintiffs in Linde have similar cases pending against Credit Lyonnaise and National Westminster Bank, and can be expected to file more if they win.
Barring a last-minute settlement, the parties will meet before U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan Monday morning to begin the process of selecting a 10-person jury. The trial will be unusual because Cogan’s predecessor, Judge Nina Gershon, eliminated many of Arab Bank’s defenses as punishment for failing to turn over bank records the plaintiffs say they need to prove their case. Arab Bank says it would violate Jordanian law and possibly face criminal sanctions if it gave U.S. lawyers the confidential bank records of its customers.
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