London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan described the first civil trial against a bank under the Anti-Terrorism Act in the US, which centers around his account at the Arab Bank’s Al-Mazra branch in Beirut, as being politically-motivated.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hamdan said that this bank account has been suspended and not in use for a number of years. The Hamas spokesman linked the trial which is currently underway at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, and the ensuing media coverage of it, with attempts to distract attention away from the situation in Gaza.
The plaintiffs allege that at least three wire transfers were sent to Hamadan’s account earmarked for Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department since 1997. In the trial’s opening statement on Thursday, attorney Tab Turner maintained that tens of millions of dollars were funneled to the families of suicide bombers and terrorist operatives via the bank account, adding that bank officials “knew these neighbors of their were evil and criminal people.”
The Arab Bank maintains that it follows strict regulations to screen all transactions against lists of known terrorists, including those compiled by US and European states, and no transactions were flagged.
“There is clear evidence that Israel carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity over the past month, but are we allowed to put forward our cases against Israel in the US? It is clear that the objective of this [case] is to cover up the Israeli crimes that took place in Gaza,” Hamdan said.
“The other objective of this case is to confront the growing sympathy among the European and American general public towards the Palestinians, after thousands of innocent Gazans were killed,” the Hamas spokesman added.
Hamdan denied the prosecution’s case, telling Asharq Al-Awsat: “This case is an insult to the American judicial system. The acceptance of this case draws a question mark over the professionalism of the judiciary which has allowed it to progress to this stage, and the extent to which politics is influencing the judicial system.”