Sun, Nov 17, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Anti-terrorism case in US poses key test for Israel

Bank of China is accused of knowingly funding terrorist groups, but Israel may be hesitant to allow a key witness to testify

By Josef Federman  /  AP, JERUSALEM

“The assumption is that he’s coming,” she said, but acknowledged that nothing was certain.

Netanyahu’s office and the Israeli Ministry of Justice declined comment on the case. Shaya and Dani Arditi, director of the counterterrorism bureau at the time of the meetings with the Chinese, also refused to comment.

Netanyahu has fashioned himself as an expert on fighting terrorism for his entire political career. And signs of official Israeli involvement in the case are everywhere.

The claims against the bank include detailed listings of account numbers, dates and precise sums of money that were transferred over several years — information that would almost certainly require professional intelligence work to obtain.

In addition, another former Israeli security official in the prime minister’s office, Shlomo Matalon, submitted a sworn statement in 2009 outlining some of the transfers and attesting that the Israelis had warned Chinese officials about the transactions.

Despite such warnings, he said the bank continued to carry out transfers for Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

“The Israeli government asked us through our lawyers to bring this case and provided relevant evidence,” said Wultz’s father, Yekutiel, who was wounded in the 2006 bombing.

“We believe it is critically important to stop the flow of money to terrorists to prevent attacks like the one that killed Daniel and are grateful for the support we have received from many people in Israel, the United States and around the world who all want to see commitments honored, justice done and a safer, more peaceful world,” said Wultz, who lives in Florida.

Adding to the high profile of the case, Wultz’s mother, Sheryl, is a cousin of US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The Virginian Republican’s office said he is “not involved” in the case.

Darshan-Leitner said she plans to subpoena Stuart Levey, a former US Treasury official, as a witness who could help the case, especially if Shaya does not testify.

She said she believes Levey, who monitored the financial dealings of terrorist groups, has evidence showing Bank of China accounts were used by Hamas to channel funds to operatives in Gaza. Levey’s current employer, HSBC Holdings PLC, declined comment and would not make him available for an interview.

Bank of China declined comment. However, in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said China opposes “all forms of terrorism” and takes a “proactive role in global counterterrorism cooperation.”

He said China also takes safeguards “to prevent any financial institutions from supporting terrorist activities.”

China has never labeled Hamas or Islamic Jihad as terrorist groups.

Israeli media reports have said Netanyahu began to have misgivings about the case last spring, shortly before leading a trade delegation to China. The Yediot Ahronot daily has said the Chinese threatened to cancel the visit if Netanyahu allowed Shaya to testify.

China has a history of using its considerable economic might to voice displeasure with other countries. For three years, Beijing has frozen relations with Norway since a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to an imprisoned Chinese dissident. Diplomatic ties have been gutted, meetings canceled and economic ties hamstrung.

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