Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'The United States vs. the Holy Land Charity'

By Abdul Ahazred ∙ WUFYS ∙ October 24, 2007



"Some jurors were dead-set for convictions even before they began deliberating. These jurors brought up stuff that wasn't even in the case, such as 9-11. I thought the defendants were not guilty across the board. The government’s case was strung together with macaroni noodles. There was so little evidence." -- Juror William Neal.


On Monday October 22, 2007, the U.S. government’s case against the Holy Land charity was declared a mistrial in a Dallas federal court. This was the biggest “war on terror” case since 9-11.

It was an absolute travesty of justice, and unfortunately the nightmare is not over. By declaring a mistrial, the judge opened the door for a new trial with a new jury.

The Holy Land charity’s “crime” was that it fed Palestinian widows and orphans. It also helped deliver medical supplies to Gaza, and helped the U.S. Agency for International Development build a hospital in Palestine.

Zionists in the USA, plus the Israeli government, used the President of the United States to destroy the Holy Land Charity as an example to Muslim charities all over the world.

Here’s what happened...

BACKGROUND

In 1989 a handful of Palestinians in California established a charity called the Occupied Land Fund. Later the charity’s name was changed to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).

In 1992 the charity (HLF) moved its headquarters to Richardson Texas, near Dallas. HLF also had offices in California, plus New Jersey and Illinois, plus individual representatives throughout the United States, the West Bank, and Gaza.

HLF provided humanitarian relief to Palestinians, and to Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. It also provided relief to victims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, and the USA during Iowa floods, Texas tornadoes, the Oklahoma City bombing, and so forth. Recipients of this humanitarian aid were Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

The Israeli government licensed HLF as a legitimate zakat (charity) to distribute aid to Palestinians. The Israelis also allowed HLF to help fund a Hamas-affiliated hospital that the U.S. Agency for International Development was also funding.

HLF became the USA’s largest Muslim charity, and formed partnerships with non-Muslim charities across the USA. (Meanwhile Jewish Zionist and Christian Zionist organizations in the USA send money to build illegal Jewish settlements on confiscated Palestinian land.)

In December 2001 during a visit to Washington, Ariel Sharon ordered Bush to declare HLF a terrorist organization. Three days later, Bush shut down the charity, seized all its assets, and held a special press briefing in the White House rose garden, where Bush triumphantly announced, "Another step in the war on terror." Meanwhile the European Commission seized all the charity’s assets in Europe.

The FBI and Treasury officials admitted that a "substantial amount" of HLF money went to worthy causes, but said these worthy causes indirectly help Hamas. (In 1995, President Clinton, following Israeli orders, declared Hamas a “terrorist” organization.) Next the FBI, working closely with the Israeli government, charged American HLF members as terrorists.

Originally, U.S. terrorism laws passed in the mid-1990s required that a person sending money overseas had to know the money would be used to support a violent act. Later the U.S. laws were changed. Now it is illegal to send money to anyone in any place (for any reason) where a “terrorist group” is known to operate. A “terrorist” group is any group that the U.S. or Israeli government designates a “terrorist group.” Thus, the HLS defendants were charged with sending aid to Palestinian organizations that operated in an area where Hamas exists. The U.S. and Israeli governments claim that if a dollar is sent to help a starving and crippled child in occupied Palestine, then a dollar is freed that Hamas can use for resistance (i.e., “terrorism”).

On July 27, 2004, a federal grand jury in Dallas Texas returned a 42-count indictment against HLF. Charges included conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering, and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The indictment set the stage for a federal trial.

The FBI immediately arrested five men associated with HLF…

> Shukri Abu Baker, HLF president
> Ghassan Elashi, HLF Chairman
> Mohammad el-Mezain, HLF Director of Endowments
> Abdulraham Odeh, HLF representative in New Jersey
> Mufid Abdulqader, HLF fundraiser and liaison with other charities

The FBI also wanted Akram Mishal, plus HLF Executive Director Haitham Maghawri, but these two escaped, and are now on the FBI list of fugitive terrorists.



The five arrested men were charged with sending $12 million in food, money, medical supplies, and other relief to humanitarian groups in Gaza and the West Bank. The U.S. government claimed that these humanitarian groups had connections with Hamas.

The HLF defendants deny all charges. They say the FBI falsified evidence in an attempt to show that HLF financed Palestinian suicide-bombers. They say prosecutors’ “evidence” included transcripts of conversations taped through warrantless wiretapping. They say FBI translators deliberately made gross errors, turning trivial conversations into calls for suicide bombing. They also note that documents produced by Dallas-area activist groups, such as Hungry-4-Justice, were found to be in the prosecution's possession before the activists had even distributed them.

(Hungry-For -Justice has no formal connection with HLF. It is an American group created in April 2007 to support the defendants. Its name derives from the fact that HLF’s main activity was to feed Palestinians under the nonstop Israeli siege. See http://h4jusa.com/)



[Digression: A common Zionist practice is to sue American Muslims when a Jew dies in Palestine. In 1996, a U.S. teenager named David Boim, age 17, caught a bullet at a bus stop outside Jerusalem and died. Back in the USA, Boim’s parents got government help, and sought to collect millions of dollars from Muslim organizations in the USA. In December 2004, a federal judge in Chicago ruled that HLF was liable for $156 million dollars for the death of Boim. The judge said HLF had helped murder Boim because HLF had helped Hamas-connected relief groups in Palestine. The parents had only demanded $52 million, but judge Arlander Keys tripled this amount. Unfortunately for the greedy parents, the U.S. government is even greedier. It already seized HLF assets, and will give none of that money to the parents.]



THE TRIAL

Prosecutors knew it would be difficult to convince the jury that money for soccer balls, backpacks, and food was really a tool for “terrorism.” Hence, before the trial started, prosecutors asked all prospective jurors whether they could convict the defendants for supporting “terrorism” if the defendants were simply giving humanitarian aid to suffering people. Many potential panelists said they could not convict, and were excused.

Prosecutors named 306 individuals and organizations as un-indicted “co-conspirators.” The list includes several major American Muslim organizations in the USA.

On July 23, 2007 the trial began in Dallas. Prosecutors went to Palestine, obtained an official from Shin Bet, and flew him to Dallas. The Shin Bet man, testifying under the false name of “Avi,” claimed that HLF money went to humanitarian groups in Palestine with connections to Hamas. This was a foreign agent from a foreign government, delivering secret evidence under a false name in a trial that began six years after the HLF charity had been shut down.



Defense attorney Gregory Westfall produced Edward Abington, the former No. 2 intelligence official at the State Department. Abington told jurors that he got CIA briefings every day for years while stationed in Jerusalem as consul general, and was never once told that the Palestinian charity committees Holy Land gave money to were connected with Hamas.

The case went on for two months. Prosecutors submitted thousands of pages of documents, many of which they translated from Arabic. Only the prosecutors’ translations were admissible in court. Prosecutors also offered as “evidence” videos from “fair and balanced” Fox News (!) that showed skits put on by a charity known as the Islamic Association for Palestine. Prosecutors said the skits were “anti-Semitic,” and that the Islamic Association for Palestine was a “sister organization” to the HLF, and was a Hamas front. The prosecution’s “proof” of all this was that the ADL said it. (Literally.) Prosecutors also submitted as “evidence” many HLS activities that happened before 1995, when Hamas was not even a “terrorist” organization. Prosecutors also charged that HLS had links with “Al Qaeda.”

All this was so laughable that the jury in Dallas (eight women and four men) acquitted three of the Holy Land defendants, and was evenly split on charges against Shukri Abu Baker and former Holy Land Chairman Ghassan Elashi.

Former Holy Land chairman Mohammed El-Mezain was acquitted on all but one charge.

Juror William Neal’s father worked in military intelligence. He said some jurors were dead-set for convictions even before they began deliberating. These jurors brought up stuff that wasn't even in the case, such as 9-11. I thought the defendants were not guilty across the board. The government’s case was strung together with macaroni noodles. There was so little evidence." (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21439691)



[Digression: Defendant Ghassan Elashi already lives in prison. In 2005, he and two of his brothers were convicted on 21 counts of federal terrorism charges related to funding Hamas, and to exporting electronics equipment to Hamas. On Oct 13, 2006, Elashi was sentenced to 7 years in prison. This was separate from the HLF case. Elashi’s personal business was destroyed, and his family ruined. YouTube has a short tape of his daughter in Texas at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4Sq7ZBbDGo]

You may see the five defendants and some of their children here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yA43MS4Tg4

Some of the defendants were originally from Palestine. Ghassan Elashi, for example, had been uprooted during the 1967 Israeli war of aggression, and eventually found his way to the USA. Four of the five defendants are U.S. citizens. Their children were born and raised in the USA, and are average teenagers and young adults. They cannot understand why their fathers are being tried as terrorists, simply because their fathers help feed starving people in Palestine, and even fed disaster victims in the USA. All five defendants held respectable jobs. Defendant Mufid Abdulqader, for example, was a City of Dallas public works supervisor. ]

Last Monday (October 22) as federal District Judge A. Joe Fish read the jury’s findings, it appeared that jurors had acquitted Abdulqader on all charges, plus El-Mezain and Abdulrahman Odeh on most charges, and failed to reach decisions on any counts involving Baker, Elashi or Holy Land itself.

Judge Fish was not happy. The jury had been asked to make 197 decisions on guilt or innocence, so the judge asked each juror whether he or she agreed with all 197 decisions. During these interrogations, three jurors changed their minds and disagreed with some of the 197 decisions.

Therefore Judge Fish sent the jury back for more discussions, but after an hour the jurors could not reach an agreement. The judge’s plan worked. He was allowed to declare a mistrial, which opened the door for prosecutor James Jacks to try the defendants again with a new jury. If convicted, the defendants face life in prison. ◄ full article ►

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