Terrorists can only succeed when they have financing, and the US Anti-Terrorism Act allows US citizens to sue for claims arising from international terrorism. About 500 American citizens used this opportunity to sue Arab Bank for funding terrorists. Plaintiffs included victims of attacks by Hamas and other groups along with family members.
The plaintiffs claimed that the bank had transferred more than $70 million to a Saudi entity alleged to be a terrorist group, charities that were a front for Hamas, and eleven global terrorist clients. One key transaction was the transfer of $60,000 to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Hamas spiritual leader assassinated by Israel in 2004. Because of a spelling mistake in his name, screening software did not detect that he was a known terrorist.
Arab Bank vigorously disputes the claims that it provided funds to terrorists and argued that it compared accounts and transactions to lists of designated terrorist organizations. However, a US jury found the bank liable for financing terrorism in September 2014. Americans accused Arab Bank of knowingly maintaining accounts for operatives from Hamas and facilitating payments to families of suicide bombers.
Despite its protests of innocence, Arab Bank reached a settlement with the American citizens. Both a spokesman for the bank and a lawyer for the plaintiffs confirmed the settlement, although they did not disclose the terms.
With assets of $46.4 billion, the Jordan-based Arab Bank is highly respected in the Middle East and operates in 30 countries. Its website claims that it represents 28% of the Amman Stock Exchange.
Several other major international banks are facing similar claims in US courts. These include HSBC, Bank of China, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Credit Lyonnais among others.