Two weeks after federal officials indicted a Texas-based nonprofit foundation and its officials for aiding terrorism, plaintiffs in an $875 million lawsuit are alleging that the group laundered “tens of thousands of dollars” through the Madison Avenue branch of Arab Bank.
In the suit filed last month in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, a group of families of American terror victims alleged that the Jordan-based Arab Bank ran a de facto “comprehensive terrorist insurance scheme” for suicide bombers by facilitating the transfer of payments of more than $5,000 each to their families. The money came from a Saudi committee formed in support of the Palestinian uprising.
In an amended complaint this week the plaintiffs, represented by four law firms specializing in terror victims litigation, alleged that Arab
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Bank “knowingly laundered funds for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. … Arab Bank, in turn, channeled tens of thousands of dollars for HLF through its New York branch to the Ramallah Charitable Committee, an agent of Hamas.”
By conspiring to act with the Saudi group, Hamas and other terror groups and their front groups “encourage and facilitate” violations of the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act’s provisions against harming American citizens abroad, and Arab Bank is “jointly and severally liable” for damages to the plaintiffs, according to the suit.
A spokesman for Arab Bank did not immediately return calls Tuesday, but in a previous statement called the lawsuit’s allegations “completely false and totally irresponsible.”
The Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the government three years ago in the wake of 9-11, could not be reached by telephone.
Believed to have raised some $50 million between 1992 and 2001, the organization has insisted the money is used only for social service projects.
But the Justice Department said the group finances violence and murder. Officials filed a 42-count indictment against the foundation and its top officials for conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization and other charges.
An attorney for the civil suit plaintiffs, Gary Osen, said his team would produce evidence of wire transfers from the Holy Land Foundation to the Ramallah Charitable Committee — transactions that are alleged in the federal complaint against HLF.
Osen said the timing of the amended complaint on the heels of the federal indictment was largely coincidental, but said the charges “shed some beneficial light on the allegations in our complaint.”
He added: “What the government is doing is not the crucial point of our case.”
The amended complaint also more than doubled the number of plaintiffs, from five families to 11.
The new plaintiffs include relatives of Mark Parsons, a security guard from Colorado who was killed by a roadside bomb in October while accompanying American diplomats in Gaza. Parsons was traveling in the same vehicle as John Linde Jr. of Texas, who was also killed, and whose wife, Courtney, is one of the original plaintiffs.
Also joining the suit were relatives of Jason Kirschenbaum of Westchester, injured in a December 2001 bombing on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street; Gloria Kushner, injured in a Netanya market bombing in May 2002; Netanel Fenichel, injured by a car bomb in March 2002; and Rebecca Nevies, injured in a Jerusalem bus bombing in February.
Another plaintiff family, the Zilbersteins, had three members affected by bombings at the Maxim cafe in Haifa and the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, including Lydia Zilberstein, who died in the Maxim attack.
According to the lawsuit, at least 30 U.S. citizens have been killed and “scores” of others wounded in some 21,000 terror attacks by Palestinians since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000.