Muslim Charity Claims FBI Fabricated Evidence
The L.A. Times reports:
When the Bush administration shut down the nation's largest Muslim charity five years ago, officials of the Dallas-based foundation denied allegations it was linked to terrorists and insisted that a number of accusations were fabricated by the government. Now, attorneys for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development say the government's own documents provide evidence of that claim.
In recent court filings, defense lawyers disclosed striking discrepancies between an official summary and the verbatim transcripts of an FBI-wiretapped conversation in 1996 involving Holy Land officials.
The FBI summaries of the wiretapped calls contain anti-semitic comments not found in the transcripts.
The summary attributes inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments to Holy Land officials that are not found in a 13-page transcript of the recorded conversation. It recently was turned over to the defense by the government in an exchange of evidence.
Citing the unexplained discrepancies, defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish in Dallas to declassify thousands of hours of FBI surveillance recordings, so that full transcripts would replace government summaries as evidence.
The case involves:
Seven former foundation officials, six of them U.S. citizens, have been charged with funneling money to overseas charities controlled by Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The defendants have denied the charges.
Here are the allegations that appeared in the FBI summary but not the transcripts:
The summary portrays Baker as raging against "the Jews of the world" and as claiming that Jews have no allegiance to anything but "their pockets and to preserving the illegal Zionist state of Israel."
Additional anti-Semitic comments the FBI summary attributed to Baker or Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land's former board chairman, included:
- "Their [Jews'] only purpose here in the U.S. is to purchase as many politicians as possible and to warp the way the American Christians feel and think not just about the Christian religion but mainly about the Palestinian people … and to rob as much money as possible from American taxpayers for the illegitimate excuse of protecting and preserving the chosen people of God."
- "Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their high priests … the sons of snakes and scorpions."
- "I am confident that in the end justice, and not the Jews, will prevail. I believe that there is still justice in America."
According to the defense,
the "author of the attached summary has cynically and maliciously attributed to the defendants racist invective and inculpatory remarks the defendants never uttered."
"It is appalling that such summaries even exist, much less that the government represented that this is all our clients need to know in order to defend themselves."
There are other inconsistencies in what the FBI provided:
Other alleged discrepancies also have dogged the case. Holy Land lawyers challenged the accuracy of an FBI memo, for example, that quoted a foundation office manager as telling Israeli authorities that charitable funds were "channeled to Hamas."
But defense lawyers told the court the translation from Arabic to Hebrew to English distorted the official's original statement, and that he should have been quoted as saying, "We have no connection to Hamas."
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