Ever hear of the Holy Land Foundation? It was the largest Islamic charity in the USA, and it was only a short drive away from George Bush Intercontinental Airport based in Richardson, Texas. Our U.S. government designated HLF a terrorist organization in December of 2001, seized its assets, and closed its doors. By 2004, a federal grand jury in Dallas charged HLF and five former officers and its assigns with disseminating material support to Hamas and tacked on related charges. In essence, the HLF funneled money to “charity” committees controlled by Hamas in the West Bank. It sounds like déjà vu when you consider Monday’s verdict where jurors needed less than two days to deliberate the fate of Jordan’s biggest lender for financing Hamas terrorist activities; the Arab Bank.
It’s not surprising to see similarities when comparing the Arab Bank to the HLF or even the money funneling and legal woes of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). It’s also not surprising it took jurors less than two days of deliberations following six weeks of courtroom drama in a Brooklyn federal court to find Jordan’s biggest lender liable for financing Hamas, a case lawyers tout as the first terrorism financing civil case to reach trial in the United States.
Arab Bank Found Liable
Jurors determined that Arab Bank PLC aided Hamas terrorists when they engaged in malicious attacks that killed and injured Americans on Israeli soil. The jurors determined that the Amman-based bank did business with nearly 200 Hamas leaders and operatives dating back some 14 years. It is believed that in all, about 25 deadly suicide bombings took place in restaurants and on public transportation in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and surrounding areas in Israel.
It’s also not earth shattering but rather anticipated by financial experts eyeballing this case, that shares of Arab Bank plummeted as much as 6.8 percent, the biggest drop in more than a month, before closing at 7.60 dinars, down 1.9 percent in Amman trading.
Senior fellow with Kohelet Policy Forum, Professor Eugene Kontorovich had this to say about the ruling:
“The verdict demonstrates that it is impossible to separate money to Hamas – whether to its “political” or military wings – from support for terror. This should remind us that many other organizations, like UNRWA and European countries that have indirectly funneled money to Hamas – are also complicit in terror.”
Not only will a trial on damages take place later, but similar lawsuits are pending in New York against Bank of China Ltd, which is accused of providing services to Palestine Islamic Jihad, and Credit Lyonnais SA. Both financial institutions are also accused of aiding Hamas. As expected both banks denied any wrongdoing.
The case shines a floodlight on the way banks can be held accountable by bankrolling bloodshed and the subsequent legal and civil hemorrhaging that results as they stand to lose both their reputation and their pocketbook.
The suit, filed in 2004, accused Arab Bank of violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows victims of U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation. The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997, and that status still reigns today.
Is This a Fair Analogy?
Many may wonder if HLF is anything like the Arab Bank case. Maybe not at first glance as critics will always point to the fact that HLF knew they were funding Hamas directly but the Arab Bank did not. Well, actually the Arab Bank had to know or should have known since Hamas and Islamic Jihad were directly tied to the funding. Does that make every bank responsible for what their clients use their funding for? Absolutely not — unless, of course, it’s pigeonholed for jihad (aka holy war). Privacy is one thing to a reasonable point, but funding terror organizations is now front and center. Only the courts will be the judge and they convene when they’re ready. So in other words, stay tuned.
Kontorovich writes extensively on legal matters and agrees this case not only resembles the Holy Land Foundation on some levels and amplifies the legal woes of organizations like CAIR, but has legs with little wiggle room when it comes to abandoning laws, the Geneva Convention and finding new and creative ways to finance terror and perpetrate similar crimes against humanity going forward.
Jennifer Hanin is an award-winning writer, influential blogger and social media maven, and co-founder and former Executive Editor of Act For Israel. She is co-author of the critically-acclaimed What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant: the Complete Guide to All the Options for Couples Facing Fertility Issues (Da Capo, 2013; 2005) and Becoming Jewish: The Challenges, Rewards and Paths to Judaism.