In the 1991 video played in U.S. District Court, Damra implores members of the audience to donate money for the Islamic Committee for Palestine. Damra tells the audience the committee “is the active arm of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in America.”
Matthew Levitt, senior fellow in terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, testified that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is “bent on the destruction of Israel.”
Damra has pleaded innocent to a charge of obtaining U.S. citizenship in 1994 by providing false information. If convicted, he could lose his citizenship, be fined $5,000 and be sentenced to up to five years in prison before being deported.
The video showed Damra standing in front of a wall with an American flag on it at the Beit Hanina Club in Cleveland, a social club for Palestinians.
Jurors watched video monitors in front of their seats that had subtitled translation of Damra’s speech, which was in Arabic.
Expressionless, Damra watched most of the video on a monitor at a defense table.
On the tape, Damra also introduces Sami Al-Arian as the head of the committee.
Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor, has pleaded innocent to federal charges that he financed terrorists. He has been held for 15 months at a Florida prison on charges he used an Islamic think tank and a charity he founded to raise money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The hour-long video included Al-Arian’s speech in which he spoke of Palestinians martyrs and describes them as heroes. He shouted into the microphone in Arabic that Muslims in America cannot forget their brothers and sisters in Palestine.
Levitt testified that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been listed as a major terrorist group in a U.S. State Department publication titled “Patterns of Global Terrorism” since 1989. He testified that the group opposes peace with Israel and a two-state system.
Levitt said that to reach its goals the group “engages in acts of violence and murder.”
On a second video, Damra shouted for contributions for orphans in Palestine.
Levitt began testifying that these donations are raised to recruit people for acts of violence with the understanding that their children will be cared for after their deaths.
Defense attorney Nancy Hollander objected to the statements and Judge James Gwin told jurors to disregard it.