Exposing the secret U.S. banking operations that fund suicide bombings
Newspaper ads in Al-Hayat, al-Jadida, a Palestinian newspaper, were used to notify beneficiaries who hadn’t claimed their money to head down to their local branch of the Arab Bank or risk missing out on their payments. In an advertisement from the fall of 2002, the “Center for Social and Psychological Research of Palestinian Casualties” announced, “in coordination and cooperation with the Secretariat of the Saudi Committee for Al-Quds Intifada” – the second intifada in Jerusalem – that “families of martyrs whose names are listed herein” should “go to a branch of the Arab Bank in their place of residence to receive the 10th payment offered by the Saudi Committee in the amount of US $5,316.06 for each family.” The advertisement made it known that the payment, for a total of $1,594,980, was earmarked for 300 families. [See the Al-Hayat ad here and the Saudi Committee Al-Quds ad here.]
Hamas also relied heavily on the Arab Bank for its banking needs. On the group’s website was a “donate” button that included an Arab Bank account number to a branch in Lebanon. Osen alleges in a court document that key members of the group — from its supreme leader down to its operatives — maintained accounts there, with the bank distributing more than $3.7 million to known leaders of Hamas and their wives from 2000 to 2002. After the US government designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, the bank processed some $27.5 million that went to 12 Hamas Institutions between 2000 and 2004, and maintained at least 61 accounts for organizations on Israel’s Terrorism Blacklist between 2005 and 2008.
What Osen found particularly galling was that much of the money that flowed to these families and groups passed through New York, where the Arab Bank’s dollar-denominated transactions were cleared. It appeared Arab Bank was facilitating massive amounts of terror financing from Madison Avenue, right under the noses of federal regulators and the US government.
Shortly after the bombing of bus no. 6 a representative from “The Organization of Martyr Families” telephoned Bassam Takruri’s parents. He told Takruri’s mother to open an account at the Arab Bank so the family could receive its reward. Soon after the account was open, the first $200 arrived by direct transfer, a process repeated every month for a year. When, a few weeks after the attack, Israeli bulldozers razed the family’s home to the ground, they moved into an apartment paid for by the group, a portrait of their martyr son hanging over the sofa.