Some 6,000 foreign victims of Middle East terrorism asked a skeptical Supreme Court Wednesday to hold a foreign bank liable for financing a reign of terror under an obscure law passed by the first U.S. Congress in 1789.
Some justices questioned whether corporations can be liable at all under the Alien Tort Statute. Others wondered whether the terrorist attacks had a sufficient connection to the United States. Still others worried about causing friction with international allies.
What got precious little attention were the terrorist acts themselves — more than 150 suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel and the Palestinian Territories from 1996 to 2005 tied to the Second Intifada.
The victims, including people injured in the attacks and relatives of those who were killed, claim that Jordan-based Arab Bank used a New York branch to help finance terrorists from Hamas and other groups and funnel martyr’s payments to suicide bombers’ families.