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DMN: Background On Holy Land Foundation

From the Dallas Morning News:

Holy Land Foundation defendant Abdulrahman Odeh  is hoisted onto the shoulders of his supporters as they celebrate in Dallas, Texas, October 22, 2007.

U.S. investigation started after an Israeli interrogation in 1993

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

The Holy Land Foundation first came to the attention of U.S. authorities 14 years ago, when an Illinois man detained in Israel told his interrogators that the largest American Muslim charity was really a front for Palestinian terrorists…

Although he would later say he was tortured into talking, he told Israeli agents in 1993 that Holy Land was the chief fundraising arm of the then-six-year-old Islamic Resistance Movement, better known as Hamas.

He said Holy Land was so designated by a powerful and politically savvy Palestinian immigrant living in the U.S. named Mousa Abu Marzook.

Investigators would later learn that Mr. Marzook, then a doctoral student at Louisiana Tech University, was actually the head of Hamas and helped start Holy Land with hundreds of thousands of dollars in seed money. He also was married to a cousin of Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s board chairman and one of its founders. He now lives in Syria, where he is Hamas’ No. 2 political leader.

This year, Mr. Salah was acquitted of charges that he supported Hamas but was sent to prison for lying about his terrorist ties in a lawsuit…

In October 1993, the FBI bugged a meeting at a Philadelphia hotel between Holy Land organizers and other Hamas sympathizers. They spoke about how to continue to raise money for Hamas without drawing the attention of U.S. authorities, who were on alert after the first World Trade Center attack eight months earlier…

The Dallas Morning News also began an investigation of the group and wrote stories uncovering ties between Holy Land and Hamas activists.

Muslim groups were outraged and denied the links.

Between 1992 and 2001, investigators estimated that Holy Land raised more than $57 million.

For years, U.S. authorities focused on using Holy Land to gather intelligence, rather than launching a criminal case to shut it down. At the time, before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI was under less pressure to make terrorism arrests, particularly before people or groups engaged in or directly sponsored violence. There also was a great reluctance to use evidence gathered during an intelligence operation in a criminal case…

But around 1997, the Commerce Department learned that a Richardson-based Internet service provider and computer services firm had contacted Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq about setting up an “.iq” domain name. It was never activated, but by 1999, investigators had learned that the firm had been violating export laws by doing business with customers in Syria and Libya, both of which the U.S. considered state sponsors of terrorism.

The firm was InfoCom, run by Mr. Elashi’s family and also the beneficiary of Mr. Marzook’s money.

Investigators would work the InfoCom export law case for another two years – all the while continuing to monitor Holy Land – before a federal terrorism task force moved in on Sept. 5, 2001, and shut the company down.

InfoCom’s defenders and Muslim supporters decried the raids and denied any links to terrorism or Holy Land. Although it wasn’t publicly disclosed at the time, FBI agents found about 20 boxes of Holy Land records, including correspondence, bank records and videos, being stored at InfoCom.

Investigators barely had a week to begin poring over all that new evidence when the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by Islamic militants. Eventually, agents were able to pull together eight years of intelligence and evidence on Holy Land and prepare warrants to search the charity’s offices and seize its assets.

In December 2001, President Bush announced at a Rose Garden news conference that Holy Land was shut down…

As usual, our watchdog media conscientiously avoids bringing up any of this background on the Holy Land Foundation.

Why is that?

And speaking of details ignored by our mainstream media, many of those supporting the HLF in the courtroom and helping them celebrate this mistrial are core members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

From our friend Josh Gerstein at the New York Sun:

Still pending before the court is a request from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to strike a list of unindicted co-conspirators filed by prosecutors in the case. Cair contends that the designation violated the group’s rights and Justice Department procedures. Prosecutors said the designation was justified by the evidence that emerged at trial about ties between Cair and the defendants.

Cair officials warmly embraced the defendants after yesterday’s mixed verdicts.

Behold some excerpts from CAIR’s press release after they had received the joyous news of a mistrial:

CAIR: HLF Mistrial a ‘Stunning Defeat’ for Prosecution

Mon Oct 22


WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called today’s declaration of a mistrial in the case against the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Muslim charity a “stunning defeat” for the prosecution…

In a statement reacting to the declaration of a mistrial, CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed applauded the efforts of the jury.

Ahmed’s statement said in part:

“After 19 days of deliberation, the jurors did not return even a single guilty verdict on any of the almost 200 charges against these men, whose only ‘crime’ was providing food, clothing and shelter to Palestinian women and children. It seems clear that the majority of the jury agreed with many observers of the trial who believe the charges were built on fear, not facts. This is a stunning defeat for prosecutors and a victory for America’s legal system.

“The American Muslim community will continue to fight for justice and for the right to help those who are in need, whether in this nation or overseas. Today’s developments in the HLF case send the message that a hard-working jury of ordinary Americans will weigh the facts objectively and will resist pressure to convict based on guilt by association. Charitable giving should be honored, not criminalized.” …

But given the sources of CAIR itself:


Such support should be no surprise.

And speaking of unsurprising developments:

John Wolf, left, and Hadi Jawad hold signs supporting the Holy Land Foundation defendants while standing outside the federal courthouse in downtown Dallas, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007.

Longtime readers of this site may recognize the names John Wolf and (Iraqi) Hadi Jawad.

They are the founders and owners of the “Crawford Peace House,” the organization that helped to put Cindy Sheehan on the map.

(I wonder how their own fraud cases are going.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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