US court to rule on sanctions in terror financing case

Arab Bank alleged to have transferred funds to Hamas; Shurat Hadin seeks to seize Iran’s Internet assets.

The scene outside the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Dec. 5, 2001. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The scene outside the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Dec. 5, 2001.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US Supreme Court is expected to decide as early as Friday or Monday whether to save Arab Bank from a lower court sanctions decision that could seriously hurt its chances of fending off a blockbuster terror finance case by the families of terror victims.
The decision will come following a major decision by the US government on May 28 to advise the US Supreme Court that it supports sending the Arab Bank case to trial, while also potentially undermining the case’s strength.
The context of the decision was Arab Bank’s interim June 2013 appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse an April 2013 and earlier lower US court decisions, which significantly penalized the bank for refusing to turnover key documents the plaintiffs said they need to prove their case.
The case itself, which has been featured on CBS News’s Sunday Morning program, involves allegations that Arab Bank facilitated massive transfer of funds to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of imprisoned Hamas members and suicide bombers, via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation, mostly between 1998-2004.
The plaintiffs allege Arab Bank knew the funds were related to terrorists and terror groups, and is thus civilly liable for wrongful death damages resulting from terror attacks perpetrated using the transferred funds.
Jordan-based Arab Bank, the largest in Jordan and one of the largest in the Middle East, has said there is a lack of proof the funds went to terrorists, that the funds contributed directly and sufficiently to terror attacks and that the bank had any knowledge of a connection to terror.
The bank refused saying it could incur criminal sanctions from Jordan and Lebanon for violating bank secrecy laws, but a lower US court rejected this rationale and ordered that a jury at trial could infer the bank’s refusal to turn over documents was like an admission of what the plaintiffs argued they would prove.
The bank enlisted Jordan, which said its counter-terrorist cooperation with the US could be at stake, and made an interim appeal to the Supreme Court, which asked the US government for its position.
The US government’s said the Supreme Court should not intervene pretrial (a win for the plaintiffs), but harshly criticized the lower court for not fully considering the foreign policy consequences of disregarding Jordanian sovereign interests in the case. There is also a chance of throwing out the case post-trial if those interests are ignored.
The trial, originally set for January 2014, is now set for August 2014.
Meanwhile, Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center and American families of terror victims it represents who hold unsatisfied American federal court judgments against Iran for sponsoring terror amounting to more than a billion dollars against the Iranian government, have started the process to eventually try to seize all the “top-level domain” (TLD) names provided by the US to Iran including the .ir TLD and all Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being utilized by the Iranian government and its agencies.
Subpoenas to produce documents related to the Internet assets have been served on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an agency of the US Department of Commerce in Washington, DC, which is administrator of the World Wide Web.
Shurat Hadin director Nitzana Darshan- Leitner said: “This is the first time that terror victims have moved to seize the domain names, IPs and Internet licenses of terrorism sponsoring states like Iran and are attempting to satisfy their court judgments.”