A filmmaker who survived a 2003 suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv nightspot identified the bomber as a Hamas operative, during testimony Thursday in the federal court lawsuit in Brooklyn against Jordan's Arab Bank for allegedly transferring funds to the terror group.
"There was a lot of music going on. Then, the explosion. A bomb," said Detroit-born Joshua Faudem, 38, who worked as a bartender at Mike's Place. "I jumped on my girlfriend, threw her on the floor and covered her. The bomb exploded at the entrance."
Faudem, one of 300 victims and family members suing over 24 attacks attributed to Hamas, could not describe gory details -- three died and the bomber's remains were hanging from the rafters -- because the judge has limited emotional testimony.
But he said he was able to tie the bombing to Hamas, which the plaintiffs must prove was responsible for each of the 24 attacks, testifying that he recognized a picture of suicide bomber Asif Hanif on news reports that was later displayed on Hamas' website.
"I saw him about an hour and a half before the bombing when I was sitting outside," said Faudem, who claims he suffered hearing damage and post-traumatic stress from the bombing.
The lawsuit, filed in 2004, contends Arab Bank, with branches in 30 countries, maintained Hamas-linked accounts and transferred money for a Saudi charity that included payments to the families of suicide bombers.
The bank says it opposes terrorism and merely provided routine financial services. But in depositions played Thursday, bank officials struggled to explain anti-Israeli remarks in official publications that the plaintiffs say betrayed political sympathies at odds with claims of commercial neutrality.
Bank promotional calendars from the early 2000s, for example, included one titled "Destroyed Villages of Palestine," and another of significant events in Arab Bank's history that included references to "Zionist" actions in the Mideast.
David Blackmore, a former compliance officer in Britain, said his bosses refused to distribute them, telling headquarters in Jordan they would have "caused offense" among United Kingdom customers.
Plaintiff's attorneys also played a 2010 deposition in which former Arab Bank chairman Abdel Hamid Shoman, grandson of the bank's founder, was questioned about statements his father made in a 2003 annual report's "Chairman's Message" referring to the "occupying enemy" in Palestine.
At first, Shoman insisted he had no idea what the phrase meant or who it referred to. But he returned to the subject later, noting that his father had been in his 90s, and a ghostwriter might have inserted the phrase without approval.
"It is entirely possible they used that expression which we ourselves do not approve of at all," he said.
The trial resumes Monday.