Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

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Arab Bank settles over terror finance damages

September 7, 2015

Jordan-based Arab Bank PLC has settled on an amount to pay in damages to the families of terror victims.  The bank was found liable in 2014 for helping process transactions for Hamas that facilitated terrorist attacks.  The amount of the settlement wasn’t disclosed, but Arab Bank previously offered $12 million in a deal rejected by the judge.

From The New York Times last month (h/t El Grillo):

Arab Bank Reaches Settlement in Suit Accusing It of Financing Terrorism

Three days before a first-of-its-kind damages trial was supposed to start, a Middle Eastern bank has reached a settlement with hundreds of American plaintiffs, including victims of terrorist attacks around Israel, who had filed a lawsuit against the bank accusing it of supporting terrorism.

A spokesman for the bank, Arab Bank, and a spokeswoman for one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs confirmed on Friday that an agreement had been reached but declined to offer additional details, including the amount of the settlement.

Last year, a jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn found Arab Bank liable for financing terrorism by processing transactions for members of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

The second phase of the trial, assessing the damages Arab Bank would have to pay to some victims of attacks by Hamas, was scheduled to start on Monday.

All of the plaintiffs are American victims of Hamas attacks or relatives of people who were killed…

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Shin Bet busts Hamas cell’s gold scheme

July 7, 2015

Forty members of a Hamas cell in Nablus, Israel, have been arrested by Israel’s domestic security service.  Shin Bet found the equivalent of $1 million in cash and gold during their raid on the cell.  Hamas operatives intended to buy night vision goggles and other equipment to terrorize Jews.  From The Times of Israel on Jul. 1 (hat tip to El Grillo):

Large, gold-funded Hamas cell uncovered in West Bank, Shin Bet says
Israel’s security agency breaks a 40-strong cell in the Nablus region, foiling a terror attack in the making

Israel’s domestic security service said Wednesday it had revealed and arrested members of a 40-person Hamas cell in the Nablus region of the West Bank, foiling an attack still in the planning stage and breaking apart a community-wide infrastructure.

The arrests, conducted over the past months, were made public amid a rise in terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and corresponding calls from settlers to increase the Israeli army’s preventative actions in the region.

Over the past 10 days there have been four shootings and two stabbings, claiming the lives of Israelis Danny Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld and wounding several more.

The Shin Bet said the Nablus cells were run from Qatar, by Hussam Badran, a Hamas spokesperson and a native of Nablus.

Budran, operating under Saleh al-Arouri, the Turkey-based head of Hamas operations in the West Bank, sent messages to the operatives in Nablus via “email channels,” the Shin Bet said, apparently referring to non-direct messages, and laundered the money into gold jewelry transported into the West Bank from Jordan.

Anan Fatuah and Samih Aliwi, West Bank shop-owners, allegedly received cash from a Nablus couple that had traveled to Jordan for medical care but were, in fact, a forward unit of Hamas. The couple, Bassam and Mona Sayih, allegedly transferred the funds to Fatuah, who bought gold in Jordan and sold it along with Aliwi in their shop, funneling the money to Hamas operatives.

The Shin Bet and police said they found NIS four million (roughly one million dollars) in cash and gold during the arrests.

The 40-person infrastructure engaged in a wide range of activity, from education to media to charity, and was in the process of planning a terror attack.

Two of the arrested, Anas Abbas and Taufiq Sualmeh, admitted under questioning to planning a terror attack and buying night vision goggles to further the execution of that plan. They allegedly were in contact with operatives from Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC terror organization in Syria…

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Terror finance progress: suggested news reading

April 23, 2015
  • Judge denies Arab Bank’s request to throw out a verdict against it… more>>
  • The feds have busted 5 people and 4 companies for illegal shipments to Iranmore>>
  • The U.S. passes Saudi Arabia in oil production and is poised to become energy independent in 4 years… more>>
  • A Hamas treasurer has reportedly been arrested… more>>
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Arab Bank liable in Hamas money case

October 6, 2014

Litigation can help bankrupt terrorist groups by discouraging banks from providing them with account services. While banks like HSBC have gotten a lot of attention for weak compliance programs, there are some banks—particularly Gulf-based and sharia banks—that have purposefully funded terrorist groups out of shared sympathies or backscratching arrangements with the ruling monarchies. Jordan’s Arab Bank is one of them. Note that in this case, as in almost every other high-fatality terrorist operation in the past 20 years, a Saudi front charity is involved.

From ACAMS MoneyLaundering.com:

By Colby Adams and Kira Zalan

In the first trial of its kind, a federal court said Monday that Arab Bank is liable for deaths caused by Hamas and a Saudi charity that used its accounts to reward terrorism.

A jury in the Eastern District of New York ruled in the decade-old case that the Amman-based financial institution should pay the families of individuals killed by Hamas in reparation for providing banking services to the group’s leaders and facilitating payments to relatives of suicide bombers.

Using Arab Bank accounts, the Saudi Committee in Support of the Intifada Al Quds offered the payments as a reward to the families of any Palestinian terrorist, regardless of group affiliation, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys, who said the program functioned with the financial institution’s consent…

Arab Bank will appeal.

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Terror payola news: recommended reading

October 2, 2014
  • 300 plaintiffs would have their health or loved ones back if it hadn’t been for Arab Bank and the money they handled for Hamas, a jury finds… more>>
  • Qatar gave $15 million to the institute that keeps a key U.S. negotiator for peace in the Middle East on its payroll.  The summary in Latin is quid pro quomore>>
    (h/t Europe News)
  • The smoke clears on the history of Hezbollah‘s cigarette smuggling in North Carolina with the publication of Lightning out of Lebanonmore>>
    (hat tip El Grillo)
  • The Israel-Gaza rocket war was triggered by a $61.5K contract killing of three Israeli teenagers ordered by Hamas… more>>
  • Treasury’s top authority on the subject says, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas”… more>>
  • On Hamas’s recent bank robbery of $750,000 from the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City… more>>
    (h/t El Grillo)
  • Ukraine lists 172 Russian citizens & 65 Russian companies to be sanctioned “for financing terrorism”… more>>

 

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Kerry sides with Jordanian bank against terror victims

April 11, 2014

So committed is he to the illusory peace process between Israel and its neighbors that John Kerry’s State Department is siding with Jordan’s Arab Bank in pushing for legal relief from a terrorist financing lawsuit in New York.

At the heart of the case is Arab Bank’s refusal to turn over documents that would provide further detail about the transactions it helped facilitate for Hamas. Arab Bank has cited bank secrecy laws as the reason for its recalcitrance. Jordan has argued on behalf of the bank, making thinly veiled threats that it may not support the peace process with Israel if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t intervene to provide relief to Arab Bank from the rulings against it.

According to recent reporting by New York Times, “The State Department’s arguments appear to closely track those made by the government of Jordan.”

The intervention of the State Department represents a setback to progress that victims of Hamas terrorism appeared to be making last year in the case against Arab Bank.

Suing terrorist organizations and the banks that assist them has become an increasingly utilized tactic in the West to help gradually de-fund terror groups. Kerry doesn’t appear to be on board with that strategy.

Acknowledgment:  Thanks to Twitter user Mean Kitteh for notifying us of the NYT report.

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Syrian fighters funded in part by jizya

June 16, 2013

Jizya taxation has driven Christian families out of their villages in northern Syrian and into Jordan according to Martin Janssen, a Dutch missionary living in Amman.  The Syrian refugees describe the marauders as “bearded strangers”—an indication that Salafist fighters have penetrated into the Syrian countryside.

How the jizya collections have been spent was not discussed, but such revenues are normally used by jihadists to buy more weapons and supplies.  Under classical Islamic tax law, money collected from jizya and kharaj taxation is used to provision the army of the caliphate.

Eventually, the jizya demands in northern Syria increased to the point where Christian residents could no longer pay—they eventually fled or were murdered for non-payment, with only three of 30 families from one village reportedly surviving.

From a translation by Dr. Mark Durie of the Religious Freedom Coalition (h/t IvE) on June 1:

…My interlocutors this evening were almost all from northern Syria. They came from Idlib, Aleppo and villages in the countryside between the two cities. Their testimony was unanimous. Many of these villages had a large Christian presence until a few years ago, but now Christians no longer lived there. Jamil, an elderly man, told the following story during which other attendees began to nod violently in agreement. They appeared to have experienced exactly the same things.

Jamil lived in a village near Idlib where 30 Christian families had always lived peacefully alonside some 200 Sunni families. That changed dramatically in the summer of 2012. One Friday trucks appeared in the village with heavily armed and bearded strangers who did not know anyone in the village. They began to drive through the village with a loud speaker broadcasting the message that their village was now part of an Islamic emirate and Muslim women were henceforth to dress in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia. Christians were given four choices. They could convert to Islam and renounce their “idolatry”. If they refused they were allowed to remain on condition that they pay the jizya. This is a special tax that non-Muslims under Islamic law must pay for “protection”. For Christians who refused there remained two choices: they could leave behind all their property or they would be slain. The word that was used for the latter in Arabic (dhabaha) refers to the ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals.

After Jamil had finished his story a gloomy silence descended. I asked him how the 30 Christian families in his village had perished since then. He replied that a number of families – including his own family – had initially opted to pay jizya. When the leader of the armed militia in their village, however, noticed that they were able to do this, the amount kept increasing in the following months. Like almost all other Christian families he eventually fled the village. His land and farm were lost. Some Christian families in his village who were unable to escape or pay the jizya converted to Islam. To his knowledge, there were no Christians killed in his village, but he had heard other stories from a neighboring village where only three Christian families survived. They were all murdered in the middle of the night…

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Syrian rebels awash in Saudi-supplied arms

March 22, 2013

We have known for months that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing and supplying Syrian rebels, but a recent interview with Zayd Alisa on Iranian television details increased arms shipments by the Saudis purchased from Croatia and routed through Jordan.  The beneficiaries include the al-Nusra Front—the Al Qaeda front group in Syria.

Iran is extremely hostile to Saudi Arabia, and Iranian news is grossly biased—which should be kept in mind while watching this—but the details discussed are largely based on solid reporting in New York Times article from late February.

The New York Times notes that Iran’s “shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels,” so Saudi Arabia and Qatar certainly aren’t the only ones to blame for funding the bloodshed in Syria.

More recently, the London Telegraph has reported that the U.S. and Europe have airlifted 3,000 tons of weapons to Syrian rebels.

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Case can proceed against terror-funding bank

January 22, 2013

Progress made as court rejects bank’s appeal

Arab Bank’s refusal to turn over records has been a major obstacle in the Linde v. Arab Bank terrorist financing case.  To move beyond the legal stalemate, the presiding judge said the jury could infer what it wants to about Arab Bank’s secrecy.  The bank appealed the judge’s jury instruction to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The appellate court ruled Friday that it had no standing to review the case at this time (h/t @ChallahHuAkbar), and that there’s nothing drastic enough about the judge’s instruction to cause the circuit court to intervene.

From Bloomberg:

Arab Bank Sanctions Order Appeal Dismissed by U.S. Court

Arab Bank Plc (ARBK)’s appeal of sanctions for not obeying discovery orders in a lawsuit brought by victims of terrorist attacks was dismissed by a federal appeals court in New York.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that it couldn’t hear the bank’s appeal of a sanctions order imposed by U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in Brooklyn until after the consolidated suits pending before her have ended.

“We conclude that the sanctions order is not a reviewable collateral order, and we therefore dismiss the bank’s appeal for want of jurisdiction,” the panel of judges said.

“We conclude further, that this is not an appropriate case for issuance of the extraordinary writ,” the appeals court said, adding, “the bank has not established (among other factors) that it has a ‘clear and indisputable right’ to such drastic relief or that review after final judgment will not provide adequate relief.”

Courtney Linde, the widow of John Linde Jr., who was killed Oct. 15, 2003, while guarding diplomats traveling in the Gaza Strip, sued in federal court in Brooklyn in 2004. She is the lead plaintiff for a half-dozen families suing the Amman, Jordan-based lender in cases that allege it “knowingly and purposefully supported” foreign terrorist organizations between 1995 and 2004 by providing financial support. The bank has denied wrongdoing.

Sanctions Imposed

The judge imposed sanctions upon the bank for not complying with several court orders to produce documents the plaintiffs said were relevant to their case. Gershon’s sanctions took the form of a jury instruction that would permit — but not require — the jury to infer from the bank’s failure to produce the documents that it provided financial services to foreign terrorist groups and did so knowingly.

Gershon also precluded the bank from introducing for the jury’s consideration certain evidence related to undisclosed materials.

The bank argued that the sanctions were “unduly harsh,” that jury instructions would predetermine the outcome of the case, and that the documents are covered by foreign bank secrecy laws, so that their disclosure would subject the bank to criminal prosecution.

Ten similar suits brought against the bank by the families of dozens of victims of other attacks in Israel were consolidated and are pending before Gershon. She hasn’t yet determined whether any of those cases will go to trial.

‘Substantially Right’

“We think they got it substantially right,” Gary Osen, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview about the decision to dismiss the appeal. “It just means these cases can go forward. All we ask for is our day in court.”

Bob Chlopak, a spokesman for Arab Bank, said in an e-mail that the ruling is “not an endorsement of the district court’s sanctions.”

“The bank continues to believe that the district court’s sanctions order raises serious issues of international concern, and it is currently weighing its legal options,” he said.

The bank, Jordan’s largest, won dismissal in November of a separate case filed by former Israeli government official Mati Gill, which alleged that the lender supported the group Hamas. Gill, who was injured in a 2008 by a shot fired from Gaza, a territory bordering Israel, sought damages from the bank…

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Sharia banks that fund terrorism

January 7, 2013

The connections between ethical finance and violent extremism

The relationship is simple.  Jihadists know they can trust sharia-compliant banks to maintain their anonymity, not ask too many questions, and facilitate high-dollar transactions on behalf of their terrorist groups.  Some Islamic financial institutions, such as National Commercial Bank and Islami Bank Bangladesh, have taken the relationship a step farther by donating a portion of their bank profits in the form of zakat as an act of corporate “charity” to terrorist organizations, or in the case of Al Rajhi, through private zakat donations of leading bankers.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are key bases for these activities, but this is a global phenomenon.  Here’s Money Jihad’s short list of the worst offenders:

Al Rajhi Bank:  The Saudi financial institution has served as the sharia bank of choice for the world’s jihadists, including East Africa embassy bomber Mamduh Mahmud Salim, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and organizations like Indonesian Kompak and Al-Haramain.  Bank co-founder Sulaiman Al-Rajhi appeared on the infamous Golden Chain document of Al Qaeda financiers.  These allegations were reinforced by the recent U.S. Senate investigation into HSBC’s correspondent relationships.

Al Shamal Islamic Bank:  Osama Bin Laden co-founded the Al Shamal in Sudan and invested $50 million there.  During the 1990s and early 2000s, Al Qaeda distributed money to its cells through Al Shamal.  Funds passed through Al Shamal were used in preparation for terrorist attacks.

National Commercial Bank:  Offering conventional and sharia banking services, Saudi Arabia’s self-described first, largest, and most prominent bank is NCB.  Among other misdeeds, a Saudi audit revealed that NCB transferred $74 million in the 1990s as zakat through its charitable front organizations to Al Qaeda (see here, here, and here).  Khalid bin Mahfouz, the head of the bank, exploited libel laws to sue author Rachel Ehrenfeld in an effort to silence accusations about his role in financing terrorism.

Arab Bank:  This conventional bank in Jordan maintains a wholly-owned subsidiary (Islamic International Arab Bank PLC) that offers full-range sharia services.  Arab Bank has transferred money on behalf of Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), a notorious French charity, to a known financial subunit of Hamas.  The Jordanian bank has paid out insurance benefits to families of suicide bombers for the Saudi Committee—another charity that funds Hamas.  Arab Bank has handled transactions for the Holy Land Foundation, whose leaders now sit behind bars for financing terrorism.  It has been the subject of American investigations, but the bank has consistently refused to turn over related documents to the U.S.

Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited:  IBBL, Bangladesh’s biggest sharia bank, has handled Wahhabi accounts to propagate radical Islam since its inception.  In 2011, the Bangladeshi home ministry intelligence revealed that 8 percent of the bank’s profits were diverted as corporate zakat to support jihad in Bangladesh.  One of the men on IBBL’s board of sharia advisors was arrested in connection with a terrorist attack against Bangladeshi police officers.  The U.S. Senate slammed British bank giant HSBC for maintaining relationships with IBBL despite evidence that it served terrorists like Shaikh Abdur Rahman of Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and terror-funding Islamic charities like IIRO.  The Senate’s report also implicated HSBC for disregarding evidence of terror financing at another Bangladeshi sharia bank with whom it worked:  Social Islami Bank.

Bank Melli:  The Iranian Islamic bank sent “at least $100 million to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard branch that supports Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups, the Quds Force” between 2002-06.

Bank Saderat:  Another major Iranian sharia finance house, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the rocket-funding Bank Saderat, stating that “The bank is used by the Government of Iran to transfer money to terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A notable example of this is a Hizballah-controlled organization that has received $50 million directly from Iran through Bank Saderat since 2001.”

Other culprits include Dubai Islamic Bank, which is active in both the U.A.E. and Pakistan, and Tadamon Islamic Bank.

So much for “ethical finance.”  For further developments, please continue reading Money Jihad, Shariah Finance Watch, and @moneyjihad on Twitter.

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Arab Bank escapes justice in terror finance case

November 27, 2012

The judge’s ruling can be paraphrased as:  Well, Arab Bank may have funded terrorism, but you can’t prove it (because they won’t turn over their documents).  And even if you could prove it, that doesn’t mean the money that the bank gave terrorists directly led to your injuries.

The gentleman who was injured, God bless him, will appeal the decision.  As a refresher, here is Arab Bank’s history:

  • Arab Bank has transferred money on behalf of Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP), a notorious French charity, to a known financial subunit of Hamas.
  • Arab Bank paid out insurance benefits to families of suicide bombers for the Saudi Committee—another charity that funds Hamas.
  • Arab Bank handled transactions by the Holy Land Foundation, whose leaders now sit behind bars for financing terrorism.
  • Arab Bank used its New York branch to facilitate these payments.
  • Arab Bank refused to turn over bank documents to the court.

See here and here for prior coverage.

From American Banker magazine on Nov. 15:

Arab Bank Wins Bid to Dismiss Terrorist Financing Suit

A lawsuit by an American man who sought to hold Arab Bank responsible for injuries he sustained in a sniper attack in Israel cannot go forward, a federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein of the eastern district of New York ruled on Nov. 6 that Matt Gill, a citizen of both the U.S. and Israel, cannot hold the bank liable for Gill’s being shot in 2008 while standing inside Israel’s borders in an area overlooking the Gaza Strip…

…Though Gill charged Arab Bank with providing material support to Hamas in violation of U.S. law, the court ruled he failed to establish the bank bore legal responsibility for causing his injuries, either by its own actions or in a conspiracy with Hamas.

“Hamas is not the defendant; the bank is,” Weinstein wrote in a Nov. 6 ruling that dismissed the case. “And the evidence does not prove that the bank acted with an improper state of mind or proximately caused plaintiff’s injury.

The ruling comes amid a series of lawsuits filed in Brooklyn federal court that charge Arab Bank with aiding Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007. Taken together, the cases test how far banks must go to vet customers for ties to terror groups.

“This is the first Arab Bank case where the court has evaluated the entire record, and it dismissed the case concluding that the Bank was not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries,” bank spokesman Bob Chlopak said in an email.

In his suit, Gill charged the bank with providing financial services to Hamas through a series of groups, charities and people affiliated with the organization.

The court, however, found the alleged connections among the entities and individuals to whom Gil pointed and Hamas either without basis or sufficiently attenuated to warrant a finding the bank funneled money to Hamas that could have helped to finance the 2008 attack.

Though Gill alleged the bank processed roughly 157 transactions on behalf of people allegedly affiliated with Hamas over a roughly four-year period beginning in December 2000, the court concluded he failed to show the transactions accounted for a sufficient enough share of the hundreds of thousands of transactions Arab Bank cleared through its New York office annually or that the bank knew the transactions could result in harm to an American four years later.

“No single or total transfer highlighted by plaintiff establishes the requisite magnitude and temporal connection to the attack required to find that the bank’s actions proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries,” Weinstein ruled.

According to the ruling, the bank’s New York office, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to pay $24 million in 2004 to settle charges by the U.S. government the bank had failed to monitor suspicious fund transfers.

For his part, Gill says the court erred by not ordering the bank to turn over records of transactions in the three years that preceded the attack. The bank had contended that laws in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories that govern the confidentiality of transactions prevented it from producing the material.

Gill, who plans to appeal the ruling, asserts “the court erred in refusing to attach probative weight to the defendant’s complete withholding of those records,” Gary Osen, a lawyer for Gill, said in an email.