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The Arab Bank in Amman, Jordan.

The Second Circuit’s decision in Linde v. Arab Bank, 882 F.3d 314 (2d Cir. Feb. 9, 2018) has reintroduced some much needed discipline into the application of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The ATA, enacted in 1990, provides a private right of action for victims of an “act of international terrorism.” The statute was intended to allow victims of terrorist attacks to sue the terrorists and the terrorist organizations responsible for those attacks. But over the past decade, courts have increasingly allowed plaintiffs to pursue claims under the ATA against banks in addition to, and often instead of, the terrorists actually responsible for the atrocities. Those lawsuits frequently center on the banks’ provision of routine financial services to individuals or organizations accused of being connected to terrorism. The decisions in those cases, however, generally have given short shrift to a key element of the ATA: the requirement that a defendant commit an “act dangerous to human life.” Indeed, in an article previously published in this journal, we questioned the shaky foundation for finding that bank transactions qualify as “acts dangerous to human life.” See Lanier Saperstein and Geoffrey Sant, “Bad Acts Make Bad Law,” N.Y.L.J. (Sept. 5, 2012).

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