Amer­i­can Mus­lim char­ity, of­fi­cers on trial; ac­cused of fund­ing Ha­mas

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

Fed­eral prose­cu­tors and FBI agents are build­ing a case against a Mus­lim char­ity on trial in Dal­las on charges of pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial aid to the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion Ha­mas and of rais­ing il­licit cash for other ex­trem­ist groups.

Five of­fi­cers of the Holy Land Foun­da­tion for Re­lief and De­vel­op­ment — once con­sid­ered the largest Mus­lim char­ity in the na­tion, but which U.S. intelligence of­fi­cials have called the North Amer­i­can fundraiser for the Is­lamist ter­ror­ist group Ha­mas — are on trial in Dal­las, charged with aid­ing ter­ror­ism, con­spir­acy and money laun­der­ing.

The pros­e­cu­tion spent the first two weeks of the trial lay­ing out the con­nec­tions be­tween U.S. Mus­lim groups and Mid­dle East ter­ror­ists.

FBI agent Lara Burns tes­ti­fied that the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions (CAIR) was listed as a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s Pales­tine Com­mit­tee, along with the Holy Land Foun­da­tion, the Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion for Pales­tine and the United As­so­ci­a­tion for Stud­ies and Re­search (UASR).

Miss Burns said CAIR re­ceived money from the foun­da­tion — an ac­cu­sa­tion that Ni­had Awad, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and co-founder of CAIR, de­nied dur­ing con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony in Septem­ber 2003. She also said Mr. Awad was listed as a mem­ber of the Broth- er­hood’s Pales­tine Com­mit­tee in Amer­ica.

CAIR was named as an unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor. It has de­nied any in­volve­ment in sup­port for Ha­mas or any other la­beled ter­ror­ist group.

Seven of the Foun­da­tion’s top of­fi­cers were named in a 42-count in­dict­ment in 2004. They were ac­cused of rais­ing $36 mil­lion from 1995 through 2001 for peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions linked to Ha­mas, in­clud­ing $12.4 mil­lion af­ter Pres­i­dent Clin­ton des­ig­nated Ha­mas as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in 1995. The foun­da­tion was ac­cused in the in­dict­ment of con­spir­acy, pro­vid­ing sup­port to ter­ror­ists, money-laun­der­ing and in­come-tax eva­sion.

At the time, At­tor­ney Gen­eral John Ashcroft said the in­dict­ment cul­mi­nated a mul­ti­a­gency, 30month in­ves­ti­ga­tion of an or­ga­ni­za­tion cre­ated to pro­vide fi­nan­cial and ma­te­rial sup­port to Ha­mas, a Pales­tinian ter­ror­ist group that has called for the killing of all Jews.

The orig­i­nal in­dict­ment said the Holy Land Foun­da­tion and its top of­fi­cers pro­vided fi­nan­cial sup­port to the fam­i­lies of Ha­mas sui­cide bombers, de­tainees and ac­tivists to sup­port its ter­ror­ist in­fra­struc­ture. It also said the or­ga­ni­za­tion fi­nan­cially sup­ported fam­i­lies of well-known Ha­mas ter­ror­ists killed or jailed by Is­raelis.

Those charged were Shukri Abu Baker, the foun­da­tion’s for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive; Holy Land Chair­man Ghas­san Elashi; and five direc­tors and fundrais­ers, Mo­ham­mad El-Mezain, Haitham Maghawri, Akram Mishal, Mu­fid Ab­dul Qader and Ab­dul Ra­ham Odeh. Maghawri and Mishal are fugi­tives.

The Holy Land Foun­da­tion was shut down in De­cem­ber 2001 and its as­sets seized by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment af­ter the Trea­sury De­part­ment ruled it a ter­ror­ist group, seiz­ing more than $4 mil­lion in as­sets.

Law-en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties said the Holy Land foun­da­tion is part of a na­tion­wide con­spir­acy by Is­lamist ex­trem­ists to di­vert cash to in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ists through “front com­pa­nies” and “phan­tom or­ga­ni­za­tions” — many lo­cated in North­ern Vir­ginia.

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