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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