Arab Bank Must Face Trial Over Terror Attacks, Judge Says

Arab Bank Plc (ARBK), Jordan’s largest lender, lost a bid to avoid a U.S. trial in a lawsuit brought by terrorism victims who accuse it of supporting attacks in Israel.

U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday rejected the bank’s request to throw out the case, sending it toward trial.

The victims claim in their lawsuit that Arab Bank, based in Amman, “knowingly and purposefully supported” foreign terrorist organizations from 1995 to 2004 by providing financial support to terrorists, including administering payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The bank has denied wrongdoing.

“For nine years, it’s been the stated goal of all of the plaintiffs to have the opportunity to get their day in court,” Gary Osen, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said after yesterday’s hearing. “This is certainly not the end of the process but it vindicates their right to have their day in court.”

A lead plaintiff in the case is Courtney Linde, whose husband, John Linde Jr., was killed Oct. 15, 2003, while guarding diplomats traveling in the Gaza Strip. The case was brought under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows for lawsuits against companies that provide support for terrorist organizations.

‘Preliminary Ruling’

Bob Chlopak of Chlopak Leonard Schechter & Associates in Washington, a spokesman for the bank, said in a statement that the judge’s decision “is only a preliminary ruling allowing the case to proceed to trial by a jury.”

“The bank remains confident that the extensive evidentiary record will demonstrate at trial that the transactions at issue were routine and lawful, and the bank did not knowingly or proximately cause the acts of terrorism at issue in these cases,” Chlopak said.

The trial, tentatively set for September or October, would cover claims brought by 296 people, including victims of 24 separate attacks and their family members, according to discussions during yesterday’s hearing. Lawyers said the trial may last as long as 12 weeks.

In November, Arab Bank won the dismissal of a separate suit filed by former Israeli government official Mati Gill, who was injured in a 2008 by a shot fired from Gaza, a territory bordering Israel.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn ruled that Gill didn’t show enough evidence that the bank played a role in the attack to send the case to trial.

In her decision yesterday, Gershon granted the bank’s request to dismiss certain claims specifying that it aided and abetted terrorist activities. She allowed the rest of the suit to move forward.

The case is Linde v. Arab Bank Plc, 04-cv-02799, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

To contact the reporter on this story: Christie Smythe in Brooklyn at csmythe1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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