From now on, "when a bank opens its doors to terrorists, they're going to be held accountable," a lawyer said after a landmark US verdict against a Middle Eastern bank yesterday. A federal jury in New York found Arab Bank—Jordan's biggest lender—liable for 24 terrorist attacks Hamas carried out in Israel early last decade because it did business with the group's leaders and scores of operatives, reports the New York Times. Lawyers say the case—brought by almost 300 Americans who were injured in the attacks or were relatives of victims—is the first terrorism financing civil case to go to court in the US, Reuters reports.
The lawsuit charged that Hamas used the bank for making payments to the families of suicide bombers. "There's a huge sense of relief—it is an amazing verdict," one of the plaintiffs, a Detroit man injured in a 2003 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, tells Bloomberg. "This is a huge wake-up call, not just for banks, but for all big businesses, to wash their hands of these kinds of clients." The bank, whose lawyers called the evidence "a mile wide and an inch deep" and argued that designating terrorists is a job for governments, not banks, plans to appeal the verdict. Another trial will determine damages for the plaintiffs. (Read more Arab Bank stories.)