The long battle of Gary Osen, plaintiff's lawyer in the terror-financing trial

One of Osen's neighbors was killed on 9/11, and after victim's family turned to him for help he never looked back.

By
August 7, 2013 05:28
2 minute read.
Arab Bank in Jordan.

Arab bank in jordan 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Gary Osen did not always think that practicing law would mean an all-out decade long struggle against Arab Bank, Jordan’s largest bank and one of the largest in the Middle East.

Osen is the unofficial lead plaintiffs’ lawyer in what, on January 13, will be the first terror-financing case against a bank to go to trial in the US. The case involves major transfers of funds to Hamas.

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Asked how he fell into the legal world of terror finance after years of dealing with reparations for victims of the Nazis, Osen said that while some of the details were highly personal, one of his neighbors was killed on 9/11, and after the victim’s family turned to him for legal help he never looked back.

Osen took trouble to clarify that there were up to 15 other lawyers and five paralegals from four other law firms involved (the single trial will include what technically are separate cases on similar issues), and that there has been significant cooperation.

He added that while he has been lead counsel, having spent significant time learning the voluminous banking details involved, others among the lawyers involved can take the lead at any given point.

Asked how that many lawyers could keep up a decade-long legal battle with a massive bank, he noted that unlike another major terror finance player, Shurat Hadin–Israel Law Center, his firm had no private fundraising. Its “take” of about one-third of the damages would be contingent on winning.

Osen and the others no doubt were helped in July 2010, when they won $1,332,268.50 in pretrial fees and expenses from Arab Bank, which had refused to turn over documents the court had ordered produced to the plaintiffs.

Osen told about his travels to Amman to take testimony from representatives of Arab Bank.

“We did have private security and did not stroll around the city the way lawyers typically do when they’re taking depositions in other cities,” he said.

One thing that struck him from his Jordan travels was the news.

“Every morning we would get the Jordan Times at the hotel, and the newspaper was always filled with nothing but good news (‘the Queen received an award from...’ or ‘the Emir’s visit was a rousing success’),” he said. “It was jarring, but slightly amusing, to arrive in Tel Aviv after a week in Amman and find the newspapers filled with almost inclusively bad news and criticism of the government.”


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