USA: The Holy Land Foundation Trial

western resistance - part 1 oct 2007 (part 2)


The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was headquartered at Richardson, a suburb of Dallas in Texas. HLF also had offices in New Jersey, California, Illinois, Jerusalem and also the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was a so-called charity founded in 1989, which was officially shut down by the US government on December 4, 2001. The group was accused of funding anti-Israeli terror group Hamas. In 2000 HLF had received $13 million from US residents, and six years earlier it had provided a $5,000 donation which helped to start the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a so-called "advocacy group".

As well as the HLF, the defendants in the trial have been Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammed El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Haitham Maghawri, Akram Mishal, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh. Two of the the seven named individuals have fled the country: - Haitham Maghawri lives in Lebanon, and Akram Mishal (a cousin of Hamas leader Khalid Mishal) fled six months before he was indicted.

The indictment was issued on July 27, 2004 and on that date the five individuals who were in the United States were arrested. The indictment was made following 33 months of research by US justice department and state and federal agency officials.

The seven men were charged with twelve counts of violating the prohibition on providing "material support and resources" to a foreign terrorist organization. Additionally they faced 13 counts of breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which prevents transactions which threaten national security, including transactions with Hamas. They are also charged on thirteen counts of money laundering. For providing "material support", the maximum sentence is 15 years for each count. For violating IEEPA terms, the maximum sentence is 10 years for each count. For money laundering, the maximum penalty is 20 years per count.

In addition to the above charges, Shukri Abu Baker and Ghassan Elashi face four counts of tax violations, stemming from their alleged filing of false charitable tax returns. The maximum sentence for this is five years on each count.

Along with the seven named individuals, a massive list of around 300 "unindicted coconspirators" and "joint venturers" was included.

Among the unindicted coconspirators were groups such as CAIR and INFOCOM, and individuals/entities who were said to be members of the US Muslim Brotherhood: Abel Rahman Alamoudi, Gaddor ibrahim Saidi, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), Nizar Minshar, the North American Islamic Trust, (NAIT), Raed Awad and Tareq Suwaidan. 39 directors, employees and representatives of HLF were also named.

Of the seven main defendants, Ghassan Elashi had been chairman of CAIR's Texas chapter and had used his computer company INFOCOM to hide transfers of money for terrorism. He had been indicted earlier on terror funding charges in 2002. On April 13, 2005 , Elashi and his brothers Bayan and Basman had been convicted of "conspiring to provide material support to terrorists". The three had channeled funds to Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior official of Hamas who is based in Syria. Marzook had founded the Islamic Association For Palestine (IAP) in RIchardson, Texas. He had been assisted in the setting up of IAP by Florida professor Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to funding Palestinian Islamic Jihad in April last year.

IAP was the parent group of CAIR. It had sent funds to Hamas. Mousa Abu Marzook is named as a coconspirator in the Dallas trial. On October 13, 2006, Ghassan Elashi was given a seven year jail sentence.

The Trial

The trial (3:04-cr-240) began on July 23 this year, and its outcome will have important ramifications for the standing of various Islamic groups in the United States. A measure of the complexity of the trial can be found in the list of evidence submitted to the court ...