NEW YORK - Arab Bank Plc was accused of providing extensive and substantial material support to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, as a long-anticipated civil trial against the Jordan-based bank began on Thursday in US federal court in Brooklyn.

"This bank served as the paymaster, the distributor of funds" that supported Hamas attacks, Tab Turner, one of the lawyers for plaintiffs told jurors during opening statements of a trial that was 10 years in the making.

Close to 300 US citizens who were the victims or the family members of victims of 24 attacks allegedly carried out by Hamas in Israel and the Palestinian territories between 2001 and 2004 sued the bank in 2004.

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