Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC

September 27, 2006

TZVI WEISS, LEIB WEISS, MALKA WEISS, YITZCHK WEISS, YERUCHAIM WEISS, ESTHER (CPS) DEUTSCH, LARRY CARTER, ADAM AVERBACH, DAVID AVERBACH, DEVIR AVERBACH, JULIE AVERBACH, MAIDA AVERBACH, MICHAEL AVERBACH, SEAN AVERBACH, STEVEN AVERBACH, TAMIR AVERBACH, KATHERINE BAKER, ANNA BEER, HARRY LEONARD BEER, REBEKAH BLUTSTEIN, RICHARD BLUTSTEIN, ESTELLE CARROLL, LARRY CARTER FOR THE ESTATE OF DIANE LESLIE CARTER, JACQUELINE CHAMBERS, SHAUN COFFEL, ROBERT COULTER, ROBERT L. COULTER, JR., ROBERT L. COULTER, SR., CHANA FREEDMAN, GRETA GELER, EUGENE GOLDSTEIN, LORRAINE GOLDSTEIN, MICHAEL GOLDSTEIN, RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, NEVENKA GRITZ, LEVANA COHEN HAROOCH, BARBARA INGARDIA, GLORIA KUSHNER, PHYLLIS MAISEL, DIANNE COULTER MILLER, SHAINA CHAVA NADEL, CHANA NATHANSEN, MATANYA NATHANSEN, MATANYA AND CHANA NATHANSEN, SHOSHANA NATHANSEN, YEHUDIT NATHANSEN, BLUMY ROM, DANIEL ROZENSTEIN, EILEEN SAPADIN, JULIA ROZENSTEIN SCHON, ERIC M. SINGER, JUDITH SINGER, SARRI ANNE SINGER, AMICHAI STEINMETZ, DEBORAH STEINMETZ, JACOB STEINMETZ, NATANEL STEINMETZ, NAVA STEINMETZ, ORIT STEINMETZ, DAVID TOPOROWITCH, HEZEKIAL TOPOROWITCH, PEARL B. TOPOROWITCH, RIVKA TOPOROWITCH, YEHUDA TOPOROWITCH, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NATIONAL WESTMINSTER BANK PLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sifton, Senior Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, United States citizens, and several estates, survivors and heirs of United States citizens, who have been victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, bring this action against defendant, National Westminster Bank, PLC ("NatWest") alleging that defendant is civilly liable for damages payable to them pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §2333(a), because it (1) aided and abetted the murder, attempted murder, and serious bodily injury of American Nationals located outside the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2332; (2) knowingly provided material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization ("FTO")*fn1 in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339B; and (3) unlawfully and willfully provided or collected funds with the intention that such funds be used, or with the knowledge that such funds would be used for terrorist purposes in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339C. Presently before this Court is defendant's motion to dismiss all claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below the defendant's motion is granted as to the first claim and denied as to the second and third claims.

STATUTORY BACKGROUND

All three of the claims made by plaintiffs in their amended complaint derive from section 2333(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992 which provides civil remedies for the victims of terrorism. That section provides:

Any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney's fees.

18 U.S.C. 2331(a), in turn, defines international terrorism as activities that:

(a) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;

(b) appear to be intended --

(i)to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion;

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and

(c) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.

Violations of 18 U.S.C. §2339B and §2339C are recognized as international terrorism under 18 U.S.C. 2333(a). Boim v. Quranic Literacy Institute and Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, 291 F.3d 1000, 1014-1015 (7th Cir. 2002); Linde v. Arab Bank, 384 F.Supp 2d 571, 581 (E.D.N.Y. 2005).

Section 2339B provides that:

Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, [is guilty of a crime]. . . To violate this paragraph a person must have knowledge that the organization is a designated terrorist organization . . . has engaged in terrorist activity . . . or that the organization has engaged in or engages in terrorism.*fn2 Section 2339C provides in relevant part that

Whoever . . . by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and willfully provides or collects funds with the intention that such funds be used, or with the knowledge that such funds are to be used in full or in part, in order to carry out . . . [an] act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, shall be punished as prescribed in subsection (d)(1).*fn3 Plaintiffs also contend that liability under 2333(a) may be premised upon a theory of civil "aiding and abetting" of a tort said to be created by the Anti-Terrorism Act.*fn4 Plaintiffs point to the RESTATEMENT (SECOND) of TORTS §876 (1979) which provides that

For harm resulting to a third person from the tortious conduct of another, one is subject to liability if he

(a) does a tortious act in concert with the other or pursuant to a common design with him; or

(b) knows that the other's conduct constitutes a breach of duty and gives substantial assistance or encouragement to the other to so conduct himself; or

(c) gives substantial assistance to the other in accomplishing a tortious result and his own conduct, separately considered, constitutes a breach of duty to the third person.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the plaintiff's amended complaint and assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

The Parties

Plaintiffs

Twelve plaintiffs are individuals who were injured in ten different terrorist attacks that occurred in Israel between March 27, 2002 and August 19, 2003 and who, as a result, experienced physical and mental anguish and emotional distress.*fn5 Eight plaintiffs are individuals who were killed in those attacks.*fn6 The remaining plaintiffs were not themselves directly injured in the attacks, but rather, are family members of the victims, and have experienced non-physical injuries including anxiety, severe mental anguish, extreme emotional distress and loss of companionship as a result of their relatives' injuries or death.*fn7

The Terrorist Attacks

Plaintiffs identify ten separate attacks which caused their injuries. Those attacks are as follows:

1. On August 19, 2003, Raed Abdul Hamid Misk, a suicide bomber, detonated explosives on Egged bus No. 2. The Islamic Resistance Movement ("HAMAS") claimed responsibility. Am. Compl. ¶¶5-6.

2. On June 20, 2003 two unknown individuals perpetrated a shooting attack on Israeli highway Route 60. HAMAS claimed responsibility. Am. Compl. ¶¶80-83.

3. On June 11, 2003, Abdel Madi Shabnet, a HAMAS operative dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew detonated a bomb on Egged bus #14A. Am. Compl. ¶¶117-118

4. On May 18, 2003, Bassem Jamil Tarkrouri, also dressed as an Orthodox Jew detonated a bomb on a commuter bus heading to Jerusalem. HAMAS claimed responsibility. Am. Compl. ¶¶148-151

5. On April 30, 2003, at the instruction of HAMAS, Asif Muhammad Hanif detonated explosives in Mike's Place, a Tel Aviv restaurant. Am. Compl. ¶¶195-196

6. On January 29, 2003 two unidentified masked men perpetrated a shooting attack on Israeli highway Route 60. On information and belief HAMAS was responsible for the attack. Am. Compl. ¶¶209-210

7. On July 31, 2002 a bomb planted inside the Frank Sinatra cafeteria at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem by Mohammed Odeh exploded. HAMAS claimed responsibility. Am. Compl. ¶¶220-224

8. On May 19, 2002, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in an open air market in Netanya, Israel. Both HAMAS and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility. Am. Compl. ¶¶266-268.

9. On May 7, 2002 a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the Sheffield Club, an unlicensed social club and gaming parlor located in Rishon Letzion. Am. Compl. ¶¶274

10. On March 27, 2002, a HAMAS suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the Park Hotel in Netanya.

Defendant

Defendant, NatWest, is a financial institution with its principal place of business in London in the United Kingdom. It is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. NatWest conducts business in the United States and in New York, at a number of locations, including 101 Park Avenue, New York, NY.

HAMAS

In December 1987, Sheik Ahmed Yassin formed HAMAS as an offshoot of the Muslim brotherhood, a radical Islamic group founded in Egypt prior to World War II. The complaint alleges, and I assume it to be true for purposes of this motion that HAMAS operatives plan, assist and conduct acts of international terrorism in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza strip.

HAMAS's infrastructure in the Palestinian Authority Controlled Territory (the "PACT") is alleged to be comprised of two interwoven components: a terrorist apparatus and a group of religious and social institutions responsible for, among other things, recruiting and training terrorists. This collection of charitable and social institutions is commonly referred to by HAMAS as the "Dawa." In order to raise funds for its operations, it is alleged that HAMAS has established or taken control of other charitable and social institutions across the PACT and abroad, including the Orphan Care Society of Bethlehem ("Orphan Care Society"), Al-Islah Charitable Society in Ramallah-Al-Bireh ("Al-Islah"), the Ramallah Al-Bireh Charitable Society ("Ramallah Society"), the Jenin Charitable Committee ("Jenin Committee"), the Hebron Islamic Association ("Hebron Association"), Tulkarem Charity Committee ("Tulkarem Committee), Al-Mujama al-Islami, the Islamic Charitable Society in the Gaza Strip ("Islamic Charitable Society") and the Muslim Youth Association of Hebron ("Muslim Youth Association"). Each of these groups is said to be run by HAMAS agents, controlled by HAMAS and to collect and distribute funds on behalf of HAMAS. One of the roles of these groups is alleged to be their involvement in the channeling of funds to pay expenses and otherwise assist the families of terrorist operatives who are arrested, injured or killed. These entities are also said to assist with the provision of housing subsides to the families of suicide bombers when their homes are demolished by the Israeli army after the bomber's identity has been confirmed.

It is alleged that HAMAS receives most of its financing through donations coordinated by prominent Saudi and Gulf State charities and a global network of charities known as the Union of Good operated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good, known in Arabic as I'Tilafun Al-Khayr, was established by the Muslim Brotherhood in October 2000, immediately following the outbreak of the ongoing violent Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, commonly known as the "Second Intifada." Its primary purpose is said to be to provide financial support for HAMAS and its agents in the PACT. According to the complaint the Union of Good is comprised of more than fifty Islamic charitable foundations worldwide, including the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund ("Interpal") and the Al-Aqsa Charitable Foundation ("Al-Aqsa"). The Union of Good is alleged to use Interpal as its primary clearing house for funds raised throughout Europe and the Middle East; charitable donations to the Union of Good are in part collected and distributed through Interpal.

Terrorist Connections and Designations of Relevant Parties

HAMAS

On January 23, 1995, then President Clinton issued Executive Order No. 12947, finding that "grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists that threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." The order identified certain groups, including HAMAS, as "specially designated terrorist organizations" and froze all property and interests in property of the designated terrorist organizations in the United States.

On October 8, 1997, by publication in the Federal Register, the United States Secretary of State designated HAMAS a FTO pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The designation of HAMAS as a FTO has been renewed every two years since.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, President Bush issued Executive Order No. 13224 which designated HAMAS as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" ("SDGT") and froze all property and interests in property of HAMAS in the United States.

In December 2001 HAMAS was placed on a list of persons, groups and entities subject to Common Foreign Security Policy ("CFSP") financial sanctions. This list is compiled and maintained by the European Banking Federation, the European Savings Banks Group, the European Association of Co-operative Banks and the European Association of Public Banks (the "EU Credit Sector Federations).

On September 12, 2003, the European Union designated HAMAS, including its "social" wing, as a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.