Jeffrey Siegel, Administrator of the Estate of Moustapha Akkad, deceased, and Moustapha Akkad's heirs, Sooha Akkad, individually, Susan Gitelson, Special Administrator of the Estate of Rima Akkad Monla, deceased, and Rima Akkad Monla's heirs, Ziad Monla, and Michael Butler, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
HSBC North America Holdings, Inc., and HSBC Bank USA, N.A., HBUS, Defendants-Appellees. 
Argued: March 5, 2019
plaintiffs are victims, or the representatives of victims, of
a series of terrorist attacks on November 9, 2005, in Amman,
Jordan. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants, HSBC North
America Holdings, Inc., and HSBC Bank USA, N.A., aided and
abetted the attackers, in violation of the Justice Against
Sponsors of Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2333(d), by
providing banking services to Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi
Arabia's largest commercial bank, which was thought by
some to have ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist
organization responsible for the November 9 attacks. The
district court (Denise L. Cote, Judge) granted the
defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim, concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to plausibly
allege that the defendants knowingly aided or abetted the
November 9 attacks. We agree. We therefore AFFIRM.
William T. Gibbs, Corboy & Demetrio, Chicago, IL, for
John Pincus, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, DC (Mark G. Hanchet
and Robert W. Hamburg, Mayer Brown LLP, New York, NY, on the
brief), for Defendants-Appellees.
J. Gottridge, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, New York, NY (Lisa J.
Fried, Benjamin A. Fleming, on the brief), filed a brief for
The Institute of International Bankers, et al, as Amici
Before: Sack, Raggi, and Carney, Circuit Judges.
plaintiffs are victims, or representatives of victims, of a
series of terrorist attacks on November 9, 2005, in
Amman, Jordan. They sued the defendants, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
and HSBC North America Holdings, Inc., for violating the
Antiterrorism Act of 1990 ("ATA"), 18 U.S.C. §
2333, as amended by the Justice Against State Sponsors of
Terrorism Act ("JASTA"), Pub. L. No. 144-222, 130
Stat. 852 (Sept. 28, 2016), by providing financial services
to Al Rajhi Bank, a prominent Saudi bank alleged to have
links to terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda in Iraq,
the terrorist organization responsible for the November 9
attacks. The plaintiffs now appeal from a judgment of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York (Denise L. Cote, Judge) dismissing this action
for failure to state a claim. The plaintiffs argue that the
defendants' willingness to do business with Al Rajhi Bank
despite their knowledge of its links to terrorism is
sufficient to expose the defendants to aiding-and-abetting
liability under JASTA. They are wrong. Like the district
court, we conclude that because the plaintiffs did not
adequately allege in their operative pleading, the Third
Amended Complaint (the "TAC"), that the defendants
knowingly played a role in the November 9 attacks or provided
substantial assistance to the terrorist organization that
perpetrated it, they failed to state a plausible claim for
relief under JASTA. We therefore affirm the judgment of the
November 9, 2005, suicide bombers attacked three
hotels in Amman, Jordan, in a series of coordinated attacks
(the "November 9 Attacks" or "Attacks").
The terrorist organization al-Qaeda in Iraq ("AQI")
claimed responsibility. With support from al-Qaeda, AQI
selected the Attacks' targets, recruited and trained the
suicide bombers, constructed the bombs, and transported the
bombs into Jordan.
plaintiffs are Americans who were injured, or the heirs or
administrators of the estates of those killed, in the
Attacks. The defendants, HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.
("HSNA") and HSBC Bank USA, N.A. ("HBUS,"
and together with HSNA, "HSBC"), are financial
institutions. Each has its principal place of business in New
York. HSNA is a financial institution holding-company and the
parent company of HBUS. Unlike HSNA, HBUS provides banking
services directly to individual customers. Until January
2005, HBUS maintained a commercial relationship with Al Rajhi
Bank ("ARB"), Saudi Arabia's largest bank, with
approximately $80 billion in assets and more than 500
plaintiffs allege the following:
was, at all relevant times, involved in financing terrorist
activity. In 2002, one of ARB's senior officials appeared
on a list of investors who supported al-Qaeda, and The
Wall Street Journal reported that the government of
Saudi Arabia was monitoring ARB accounts for links to
terrorist organizations. In 2003, the United States Central
Intelligence Agency referred to ARB as a "conduit for
terrorist transactions." Staff of S. Permanent Subcomm.
on Investigations, U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering,
Drugs, and Terrorist
HSBC Case History 197 (July 17, 2012) [hereinafter HSBC Case
History] (quoting 2003 report by the Central Intelligence
Agency entitled, "Al Rajhi Bank: Conduit for Extremist
Finance"). In 2004, the United States government
designated several Saudi-based non-profit organizations-all
clients of ARB-as terrorist organizations. And in February
2005, two persons unaffiliated with HSBC were indicted,
charged with cashing $130, 000 in travelers checks at an ARB
branch in Saudi Arabia and sending the money to suspected
terrorists in Chechnya.
was aware of ARB's links to terrorist organizations. The
plaintiffs quote a 2012 report issued by the United States
Senate Permanent Subcommittee ...