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February 10, 2007
Double Insanity

When the US invasion of Iraq deposed Saddam Hussein, it ended the very tangible support for terrorists provided by the Iraqi tyrant: payment for Palestinian suicide bombers. Saddam paid families of suicide bombers $25,000 each after a successful attack against Israeli or Western targets, a kind of life insurance for the terminally unstable. Now a leading Arab bank appears to have picked up where Saddam left off, and is issuing life insurance policies for suicidal jihadis. Der Spiegel reports on what happened after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a Jerusalem bus:

A few weeks after the suicide bombing, the phone at the home of Bassam Takruri's parents rang. On the other end of the line was a representative of Muassafat Usar al Shuhada, or "The Organization of Martyr Families." He told Bassam's mother that the family had received money, but that they would have to open an account at the Arab Bank in order to withdraw the first deposit. The Takruris were puzzled, but they did what the man said. Shortly thereafter money was transferred to the new account. From then on, Bassam's family received $200 (€152) each month for more than a year.

The Arab Bank is one of the largest and most important financial institutions in the Arab world. The Jordan-based private bank, of which 40 percent is still held by the founding Schuman family, is active in 28 countries. The Jordanian monarchy even awarded Abd al Hamid Schuman a medal for his achievements and services to the country.

But the bank has long been suspected of directing money used to finance terrorism in the Palestinian Territories. And accounts at its Palestinian branches are also supposedly used to pay a type of life insurance to the families of youthful suicide bombers, who blow themselves up with the aim of killing as many Israelis as possible. The blood money paid for a son turned murder is 20,000 Saudi riyal -- roughly €4,000 or $5,000. The funds take a circuitous route to the accounts of those families that prove the death of their son by showing a death certificate at the Arab Bank branch in the Palestinian Territories. Then monthly deposits are made just like in Takruri's case.

Suicide bombers with foresight can take care of all the necessary paperwork before they blow themselves to smithereens. A so-called Martyr Kit includes everything from a death certificate from the Palestinian Authority to an account card at the Arab Bank.

The May 2003 attack killed seven people and wounded a score more, including police officer Steve Averbach. Averbach took the bus that morning and noticed Takruri when the bomber boarded the bus dressed as an Orthodox Jew. Takruri's beard looked strange, and Averbach immediately noticed the bulge beneath Takruri's clothes. When medics found Averbach, his finger was still on the trigger of his gun, having pulled it a split second too late to stop the terrorist attack.

Averbach took weeks to recover from his injuries and remains maimed for life. Instead of plotting his own attack againt Palestinians, he hired a lawyer in the United States to sue the Arab Bank for its support of Takruri and other terrorists through its insurance program. Gary Osen represents over 200 victims of terrorist attacks, and he plans on vigorously pursuing the claims against Arab Bank and any other financial institution which supports terrorism. A 1996 law allows such lawsuits in the US.

The US has already had enough of Arab Bank. Federal authorities shut down its Madison Avenue branch for technical violations on internal controls for money transfers. They cannot conduct business in dollars any longer, and had to pay a $24 million fine from the Treasury Department two years ago. However, they continue to operate in the US, at least for the time being, and Osen wants to put an end to it.

He also wants to put an end to the money flowing into the bank's insurance program. Authorities believe the financing comes mainly from Saudi Arabia. Prince Nayef, the country's Interior Minister, runs a charity called the Saudi Committee for the Al-Quds Intifada -- the holy war for Jerusalem. Nayef and the Committee deny funding terrorism, but Der Spiegel notes a pair of advertising campaigns that explicitly invited the families of specifically named suicide bombers to go to the Arab Bank and receive payments.

Osen and other attorneys attempting to shut down this terrorist subsidy program should receive enthusiastic support from the US. However, the US should also demand an end to the Saudi Committee for the Al-Quds Intifada and hold the royal family to task for its operations. If we have not done so already, we should also isolate the Arab Bank from the global financial networks until it ends this death insurance program.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2007 9:49 AM

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