// Holy Land Foundation Defendants Found Guilty on All Counts
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blackrose
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« on: Nov 25, 2008 03:28 AM »


salaam
well this is sad news but I was happy to see that a well balance and nonbias article was written by the Dallas Morning News (did I mention I was a fan of them, just not happy they endorsed Mccain)
There is a picture of the family crying on the original http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/112508dnmetholylandverdicts.1e5022504.htmlvery sad. Make dua for all of them.

Holy Land Foundation defendants guilty on all counts

07:55 PM CST on Monday, November 24, 2008
By JASON TRAHAN and TANYA EISERER / The Dallas Morning News
jtrahan@dallasnews.com; teiserer@dallasnews.com

A jury on Monday determined that the Holy Land Foundation and five men who worked with the Muslim charity were guilty of three dozen counts related to the illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

The unanimous verdicts are a complete victory for the government, which streamlined its case after a mistrial last year, and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex evidence presented in the massive case. Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.

 JIM MAHONEY/DMN
Zolfa Elaydi (center) is comforted by her son, Jihad Elaydi, as she and her daughter, Fidaa Elaydi, weep outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building on Monday in reaction to the guilty verdicts in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case.
View larger More photos Photo store The prosecution victory is also a major one for the administration of President George Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing in court have been troubled, even though the flow of funds seems to be effectively shut down.

“Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security said in a prepared statement.

“This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups,” he said.

Robert Hirschhorn, a nationally known jury consultant based in Lewisville, said “The jury has handed the government a huge victory and a loud and clear message has been sent — if any group funnels money to a terrorist organization, the government will hunt you down and turn off the money spigot.”

Also Online
 Investigation dates back to 1993


 Cases for the prosecution and defense

 Archive: The Holy Land Foundation saga
Later Monday, the jury determined that Holy Land should forfeit $12.4 million in defendants’ assets because of several convictions on money laundering charges related to the case.

It was the second trial where the government attempted to convict the men and the now defunct Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation itself. It took the jury eight days of deliberations to reach its decisions — less than half the time it took jurors to end up with an almost complete mistrial last year on the first go-around.

“It’s a sad day,” said Mohammed Wafa Yaish, Holy Land’s former accountant and himself a witness of the trial. “It looks like helping the needy Palestinians is a crime these days.”

Before he read the verdict, the judge had ordered all observers to remain civil and respect the proceedings.

“My dad is not a criminal!” sobbed one courtroom observer after the verdicts were read. “He’s a human!”

In the trial’s second, overflow courtroom, reaction to the verdicts was subdued. Family and friends left quietly. Several said they didn’t want to talk.

One supporter of the defendants who identified himself as Adel said, “It’s politicized. I don’t think there is justice. I know these guys. I think everything is lies.”

John Wolf, a friend and member of the Hungry for Justice coalition, said he’d known the defendants for 12 years.

“I’m not surprised,” he said of the verdicts. “I think the government had their do-over and they learned from their mistakes. It’s hard to accept because I don’t believe the gentlemen are guilty. These guys are the sweetest, clean-hearted people.”

Opening statements at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas began Sept. 22. Over the past two months, prosecutors attempted to prove that five former charity organizers used Holy Land, once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., to funnel an estimated $60 million to the militant group — most of it before 1995.

Hamas was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1995, and the trial centered on the $12 million the government said Holy Land and supporters funneled to the group after that date.

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.

Holy Land was formed in the late 1980s, and was shut down by U.S. government regulators in December 2001. The case was indicted in 2004.

Last year’s trial of the same five defendants ended in a hung jury Oct. 22, 2007. Jurors deliberated for 19 days before they deadlocked. Supporters on both side of the aisle were prepared to claim a victory, at least in the moral sense.

“The government showed in a streamlined case that where special assistance to the families of terrorists is concerned, cash is the moral equivalent of a car bomb,” said Peter Margulies, Roger Williams University law professor who studies terrorism financing cases.

“Going forward, however, the government must be more pro-active about furnishing guidance to Muslim-Americans who merely wish to fulfill their religious obligations,” he said.

Douglas Farah, a former Washington Post foreign correspondent who is now an author and terrorism consultant, said that the “trial provides an invaluable forum for publicly showing the true agenda of the international Muslim Brotherhood and its organizations in the United States — the abolition of the United States government as we know it and support for a designated terrorist organization.”

“Given this complete victory for the government … it is now incumbent on U.S. government agencies to stop dealing with them as if they were engaging in benign efforts to push an agenda of tolerance and civil rights.”

The Justice Department is likely to claim victory not only with the verdicts, but by trumpeting the shutdown of what prosecutors say was a robust and unsettling American network of terrorist funding.

Holy Land, regardless of the verdict, is defunct. And other international terrorism financing pipelines have been interrupted.

But critics of the government case argued that even convictions would carry an asterisk noting that it took untold millions of taxpayer dollars, 15 years of investigation and two long, high-profile trials to finally convince a jury of the defendants’ guilt.

“I think this case proves that, with enough effort, the federal government can convict nearly anyone,” said Tom Melsheimer, a former federal prosecutor in Dallas now in private practice.“Retrials tend to favor the prosecution, in my view, because the government can figure out what worked and what didn’t and streamline their presentation of the evidence. The defense, on the other hand, has already shown their cards and the government can be better prepared to respond.

“I fear that these convictions will convince the government of the justness of their overall cause but I view the convictions as compelling the opposite conclusion,” he said. “To spend millions of dollars in time and expenses to prosecute people who were of no real threat to anyone, under the banner of a terrorism case, is a waste of precious federal resources.

William Moffitt, a Virginia defense attorney who represented two former university professors, Abdelhaleem Ashqar and Sami Al-Arian, said before the Holy Land verdicts that he suspects the convicted defendants will be hailed as heroes by some.

“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,” he said. Mr. Ashqar and Mr. Al-Arian were acquitted in trials in Chicago and Florida on similar charges that they steered support to Palestinian terrorists.

Mr. Ashqar was sentenced to 11 years in prison last year for refusing to testify for a grand jury about his Hamas ties. Dr. Al-Arian pleaded guilty in 2006 to a charge of supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad and is being held on contempt charges for refusing to co-operate in another terrorism support investigation. But both are viewed as folk heroes by some in the Muslim community.

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.”

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.”

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« Reply #1 on: Nov 25, 2008 03:49 AM »

inna lillah wa inna ilaihi rajeoon. very bad bad news. very sad for the families.

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« Reply #2 on: Nov 25, 2008 01:08 PM »

Assalamo elikuim
Inna Lillah wa inna ilahi Rajeoon.
May Allah swt give sabr to them and their families.
When will the justice system be unbaised to Muslims ?


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« Reply #3 on: Nov 25, 2008 05:41 PM »

ws,

once again they use "classified and secret evidence" to convict innocent people. God help their families.

=================
Five Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial


DALLAS — On their second try, federal prosecutors won sweeping convictions Monday against five leaders of a Muslim charity in a retrial of the largest terrorism-financing case in the United States since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The five defendants, all leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, were convicted on all 108 criminal counts against them, including support of terrorism, money laundering and tax fraud. The group was accused of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an Islamist organization the government declared to be a terrorist group in 1995.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorism,” Richard B. Roper, the United States attorney whose office prosecuted the case, said Monday in a statement. “The jury’s decision demonstrates that U.S. citizens will not tolerate those who provide financial support to terrorist organizations.”

The defendants argued that the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Muslim charity in the United States, was engaged in legitimate humanitarian aid for community welfare programs and Palestinian orphans.

The jury, which deliberated for eight days, reached a starkly different result than the jury in the first trial, which ended in a mistrial on most charges in October 2007, after nearly two months of testimony and 19 days of deliberations.

The government shuttered the Holy Land Foundation in December 2001 and seized its assets, a move President Bush heralded at the time as “another step in the war on terrorism.”

The charity’s leaders — Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mufid Abdulqader, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammad El-Mezain — were not accused in the 2004 indictment of directly financing suicide bombings or terrorist violence. Instead, they accused of illegally contributing to Hamas after the United States designated it a terrorist group.

The defendants could be sentenced to 15 years on each count of supporting a terrorist group, and 20 years on each count of money laundering. Leaders of the foundation, which is now defunct, might also have to forfeit millions of dollars.

Khalil Meek, a longtime spokesman for a coalition of Holy Land Foundation supporters called Hungry for Justice, which includes national Muslim and civil rights groups, said supporters were “devastated” by the verdict.

“We respect the jury’s decision, but we disagree and we think the defendants are completely innocent,” Mr. Meek said. “For the last two years we’ve watched this trial unfold, and we have yet to see any evidence of a criminal act introduced to a jury. This jury found that humanitarian aid is a crime.”

He added, “We intend to appeal the verdict, and we remain convinced that we will win.”

The prosecutor, Barry Jonas, told jurors in closing arguments last week that they should not be deceived by the foundation’s cover of humanitarian work, describing the charities it financed as terrorist recruitment centers that were part of a “womb to the tomb” cycle.

After the mistrial last year, critics said the government had offered a weak, complicated case and had failed to recognize that juries were not as quick to convict Muslim defendants accused of supporting terrorism as they had once been. Prosecutors spent more time in the second trial explaining the complexities of the case and painting a clearer picture of the money trail. They also dropped many of the original charges.

“Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. Mr. Rowan added that the prosecution “demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.”

Nancy Hollander, a lawyer from Albuquerque who represented Mr. Abu-Baker, said the defendants would appeal based on a number of issues, including the anonymous testimony of an expert, which she said was a first.

“Our clients were not even allowed to review their own statements because they were classified — statements that they made over the course of many years that the government wiretapped,” Ms. Hollander said. “They were not allowed to go back and review them. There were statements from alleged co-conspirators that included handwritten notes. Nobody knew who wrote them; nobody knew when they were written. There are a plethora of issues.”

Noor Elashi, a 23-year-old writer who is the daughter of Ghassan Elashi, said she was “heartbroken” that jurors had accepted what she called the fear-mongering of the prosecution.

“I am utterly shocked at this outcome,” Ms. Elashi said. “This is a truly low point for the United States of America.” She said supporters would not rest until the verdict was overturned.

“My dad is a law-abiding citizen who was persecuted for his humanitarian work in Palestine and his political beliefs,” Ms. Elashi said. “Today I did not shed a single tear. My dad’s smile was radiant. That’s because he saved lives, and now he’s paying the price.”


According to freedomtogive.com, a Web site that calls itself the voice of the defendants’ relatives and friends, the foundation “simply provided food, clothes, shelter, medical supplies and education to the suffering people in Palestine and other countries.”
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 26, 2008 03:43 PM »

Editor's statement from freedomtogive.com

Jury returns guilty verdicts in Holy Land Foundation Retrial

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 11/25/2008 - 12:48am.

The lowest point on earth was not the shoreline of the Dead Sea on Monday, Nov. 24, 2008. Rather it was a federal courthouse in Downtown Dallas.

At around 3 p.m., the courtroom—where the anticipated Holy Land Foundation retrial verdict was to take place—filled up in fast-forward. Family members, justice supporters and government officials poured into the large room, sat on the wooden benches and chatted quietly with mixed emotions.

Then, silence.

“All rise,” a court marshal said. The 10-woman, 2-man jury walked in two rows and took their seats. The foreperson, a white stout woman, handed the verdict to a court staff member who in turn handed it to U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis. The judge flipped through the document and then began reading the verdicts. “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty …”

After a seven-week retrial and almost nine days of deliberations, the jury convicted the HLF and the defendants on all 108 counts. These 12 Texans—made up of nine Whites and three Blacks—unfortunately fell for the prosecution’s fear-tactics and guilt-by-association. The judge recessed briefly as the jury answered one final question: Should the $12.4 million that the government said went to alleged Hamas-controlled zakat committees in Palestine be forfeited to the government? After nearly half an hour of private discussion, the jury answered the question predictably: Yes, the money should be forfeited.

Although federal prosecutors and FBI agents smirked, most of the room was stunned by the result. Some relatives of the defendants stared blankly, shedding zero tears. Others—including some children, wives and parents—wept. Many sobbed loudly, running out of breath. Fourteen-year-old Nida Abu-Baker, daughter of Shukri Abu-Baker, stumbled out of the courtroom bellowing, “My dad’s not a criminal. He’s a human. They treated him like an animal.”

The five defendants (Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mufid Abdulqader, Abdulrahaman Odeh and Mohammad El-Mezain) were each allowed to hug a total of three family members—one at a time—after which they were accompanied by guards with handcuffs. The five noble men flashed peace signs and slowly waved their arms. Their strength was transparent. Their content smiles shined radiantly. They were proud and honored to serve prison time for saving lives in Palestine. Yet an aura of betrayal pervaded the room. Two decades ago, they came to this country to escape such Israeli-influenced persecutions, and now they were being subjected to that very hounding from a county that became their beloved home. But with an appeal already underway, the defendants and their families know the legal fight is not over. Truth and justice will emerge triumphantly from this gloomy low point in American history.

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« Reply #5 on: Nov 26, 2008 03:47 PM »

the 12.4 million of zakat will be handed over to the government? That makes my blood boil. its unfair. it should go the hungry palestinians. they know thats where we want it. they dont have to give it to hamas. they can give it to the needy anywhere. its dispicable. read the above post I just posted to understand
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 03, 2008 09:21 AM »

as salaamu alaykum,

there are a number of brothers and sisters studying here in Cairo who know one of the defendants, he is a shaykh who graduated from al-Azhar, and is a very kind, father figure for a lot of the youth...

May Allah grant them a lot of patience and strength during this time Sad
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 03, 2008 12:39 PM »

wsalam,

And look at the list of "unindicted co-conspirators"....... ISNA, CAIR, MAS, NAIT ummmmmmmmm how ridiculous. That's every major Islamic organization we have!!! I'm sure they'll be using this to smear them next.

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« Reply #8 on: Dec 04, 2008 01:01 AM »

salaam
I dont understand why. CAIR is a human rights organization.
Well here is a diff article then most of the coverage.
------------------------
SANDERS: Holy Land Five convictions mark sad day for American justice system
By BOB RAY SANDERSbobray@star-telegram.com
   
   
On its face, the U.S. government won last week when a federal jury in Dallas convicted the Richardson-based charity Holy Land Foundation and five former leaders of providing financial aid to a foreign terrorist organization — Hamas.

But a Fort Worth defense attorney who has been involved in the case since 2005 called the prosecution shameful and compared the 42-day trial to some of the darkest days in American history.

Attorney Greg Westfall, one of eight lawyers on the case, sat in his downtown office Wednesday — two days after the guilty verdicts had been handed down on all 108 counts — and looked dejected.

After years of silence because of a gag order in the case, Westfall was ready to talk.

He began by pointing to a published story in which Richard Roper, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, was quoted as saying, "This is a great day in the United States. We will not tolerate those who fund terrorism."

"A great day for the United States?" Westfall asked rhetorically and emphatically. "Yeah, like Dred Scott was a great day for the United States. Like the 'Red Scare’ was a great day in America."

(Dred Scott was the 1857 Supreme Court case that declared no slave or descendant of a slave was a citizen of the United States and, therefore, had no right to sue in federal court.)

The case involving what I call "The Holy Land Five" was one in which the U.S. government spent years and millions of dollars to convict the charity leaders on conspiracy charges. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year, but prosecutors vowed to pursue it.

"This was a trial based on fear and prejudice," Westfall said, adding that President George W. Bush had "set the tone for this day by using words like 'Islamic fascists.’?"

For example, he said, "In the 1940s we rounded up several thousand Japanese, just because they were Japanese. Ten years later, we had the 'Red Scare’ that ruined lives — that killed the Rosenbergs. And here we go again."

In pandering to racial and religious prejudices, Westfall said, the prosecution depended on people accepting the stereotype that "Muslim equals Islamist equals terrorist."

"Do we as Christians want to be judged by Eric Rudolph blowing up abortion clinics?" he said. "If we as Christians don’t want to be judged by that, then we probably should not judge all Muslims because of Osama bin Laden."

While avoiding criticizing the jury, Westfall did not hesitate to condemn "the way the case was presented and allowed to be presented — by the judge and the government — to the jury."

It was based mainly on guilt by association, he said, including associations with groups that have never been proven to be "terrorists" or supporters of terrorism.

The Holy Land Foundation generally gave to zakat committees that supported charities, including orphanages, in the Middle East. The government shut down the organization in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks and then began the long crusade to convict its leaders by trying to tie them to Hamas, which the U.S. declared a terrorist group in 1995.

Westfall thought it out of line that the government published a list of about 300 unindicted co-conspirators, groups he said were considered by many to be mainstream organizations, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"Any statements made by anybody on that list could be held against our clients," he said.

The attorney said the government also produced items from a search warrant of someone’s home in Virginia, and went so far as to present documents, seized in a military operation, that the defense was not allowed to see.

"We were barred from seeing them or an index of what was there, and [the prosecution] introduced them through an unnamed Israeli soldier who was not present when the documents were seized," he said.

In addition, there were other "unsigned and unauthored" documents retrieved in a raid of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and introduced as evidence, he said.

"It was all tied together by an Israeli secret agent who didn’t have to give his name," Westfall said. "He testified as an expert — was allowed to testify at length without us knowing who he was. Do you realize what power that is? If you don’t have to give your real name, you can’t face perjury — you get a free pass."

He added, "If the president of the United States had testified in this trial, he would have had to give his name. In this trial, we gave an Israeli secret agent more power than we would give the president of the United States."

The attorney said prosecutors tried to link the nonprofit organization to terrorists when in reality it was simply a faith-based group supporting charities whose leaders often talked about the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

"The Holy Land Foundation was a faith-based organization that just happened to be the wrong faith," he said.

The case will be appealed. When asked what chances he thought he had, Westfall said:

"I think it gets reversed — hope springs eternal. I think in the end —and it may take way too long — America gets it right. We just have to go through this over and over again."

Because prosecutors argued that the defendants have still been raising money and, therefore, pose a threat to the country, the judge ordered them jailed while the case is on appeal.

I’m on record saying that this case was more about religious bigotry and political pressure than facts. And I believe, like many others, that the Holy Land Five are political prisoners, not terrorists.

As I left Westfall’s office, he repeated sarcastically, "This is a great day for America."

Yes, indeed, a great, sad day for our country.

Bob Ray Sanders’ column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. 817-390-7775
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 04, 2008 05:14 AM »

peace be upon you

The message is clear:

If you are a Muslim, and want to help fellow Muslims, you are a terrorist.

Even when you retreat into you personal shell, and become like the kuffaar, shedding all empathy for those who suffer, they will still be resentful of you, for you or your ancestors having been Muslim, and will attack you, for this is what Shaytaan has sworn.

The Spanish Muslims and the Bosnians found it out the hard way.
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 31, 2008 07:18 PM »

couldn't it be that hamas do in fact recieve some unofficial funding.
I think that people in palestine who have nothing much to turn to can be forgiven for supporting hamas, but their quest for ultimate victory via bloodshed ought to rouse moral disconsolation in the distanced and better informed observer.
If the courts got it right, the defendants are nothing much more than wild eyed "jihadis" whio have lost all respect for the values of compassion and respect that you say that the kaffir lack. Just because blood is on the hands of a "muslim", that doesn't mean it is halal or to be sanctified beyongd criticism or question.
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