Jury Convicts in Dallas Terrorism Funding Trial

A Dallas jury has returned guilty verdicts against the Muslim charity Holy Land Foundation and five men associated with the group. Last year a mistrial was declared when the jury failed to reach a verdict.

The defendants today were convicted on all 108 counts related to the "illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas." The jury deliberated 8 days.

Holy Land was formed in the late 1980's. The Government shut it down in 2001. Hamas was declared a terror organization in 1995. Of the $60 million allegedly funneled to Hamas, all but about 12 million was sent before 1995. [More...]

Defense attorneys argued that the foundation was a legitimate, non-political charity that helped distressed Palestinians under Israeli occupation. They accused the government of bending to Israeli pressure to prosecute the charity, and of relying on old evidence predating the 1995 designation.

Virginia criminal defense lawyer Bill Moffit, who represented Tampa professor Sami Al-Arian in his terrorism trial (in which the jury acquitted or deadlocked on charges al-Arian supplied support to Palestinian terrorists) said before today's verdict:

“I suspect that they will be viewed much the same way that Mandela was viewed by the black South African population — as freedom fighters who have dedicated their lives to the liberation of Palestine.”

... Mr. Moffitt said Holy Land and the other cases are “show trials” where the government attempted to use “events that happened over 10 years ago” as evidence of crimes well before statutes specifically outlawing terrorism support were enacted.

“I think that the purpose of these trials was to further, in the minds of the public, the so-called ‘war on terrorism,’” he said. “There are legitimate terrorist organizations out there. But we’ve tried to make every group that doesn’t agree with us like al-Qaeda.”

The Government brought up the Taliban and al-Qaeda during the trial.

Mr. Yaish, the Holy Land accountant, said Monday that he was angry that the prosecution brought up the Taliban and al Qaeda during the trial. He called that a fear tactic.

“What does giving charity to the Palestinians in the refugee camps have to do with this?” “They scared the jurors,” he said. “Fear is the No. 1 government tactic.”

Interestingly, back when the case first began, the Judge released the men on their own recognizance, finding they didn't pose a national security threat.

Sadly, even when the Government lacked evidence to charge Holy Land fundraisers with a crime, it found other ways to hold them while seeking to deport them. One example is Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan, who was in jail for two years held under a deportation order before winning his appeal in court.

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    Just a thought (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 05:24:14 PM EST
    Jeralyn - I understand that this is a defense blog, and I note that it is your blog. So I speak as a long time commentator and guest when I write that I think you should include the rest of the story on Al-Arian besides just saying he was acquitted. Wouldn't it be better to say:


    On April 14, 2006 Al-Arian pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (count 4 of the original indictment.) He also agreed that the government would deport him at the conclusion of his sentence. In return, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining eight charges against him. Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison and given credit for time served. He was to serve the balance of 19 months and then be deported. On September 2, 2008, Al-Arian was released from detention on bond by Federal Judge Brinkema.[1] Al-Arian will remain under house arrest as he awaits trial on the contempt charge



    I was describing his lawyer (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 06:04:56 PM EST
    Bill Moffitt, an old friend and colleague, who is quoted as a source in today's news article and noting that the Government failed to convict al-Arian in the trial in which Moffit represented him.

    Your statement as to what happened next to al-Arian is correct according to Wikipedia. al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count in order to get time served and deported. Of course, the Government renegged and has continued to charge him with contempt for refusing to rat out others before the grand jury. He was in prison from his arrest in 2003 until 2 months ago. His only sentence so far has been 19 months. 5 years in jail to do a 19 month sentence. Not quite fair.


    Is it our business? (none / 0) (#2)
    by koshembos on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 05:31:46 PM EST
    It possible that the Holy Land Foundation money was used for some military purposes. But, it is also important to know that the majority of the fund are send to people who for political reason, some have to do with the UN, have been confined since 1948 in refugee camps.

    Hamas is seldom active outside their own area; they aren't Hezbolla who long ago have become a terrorist arm for the Iranian. They may be a murderous bunch, but is it the US business to go after the Holy Land Foundation that is mainly doing a decent job?

    the short answer is, (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 03:10:33 AM EST
    yes. the bush administration has to have something to show for all the scarce, allocable assets it's squandered in the past 8 years.