I’m very pleased to announce that I have agreed to become a contributing writer for Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project — and here is their report on the Holy Land Foundation verdicts:
“HLF Officials Convicted on All Counts,” from IPT News, November 24 (many links in the original):
DALLAS — A jury convicted five former officials at the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) on all counts in the Hamas-support case after 8 days of deliberations.
The men, Shukri Abu-Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohamed El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdelrahman Odeh, could face up to 20 years in prison for their convictions on conspiracy counts, including conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The verdicts, read Monday afternoon, ended a two-year saga in what is considered the largest terror financing case since the 9/11 attacks.
In the original trial last year, jurors acquitted El-Mezain on 31 of the 32 counts against him, but could not reach unanimous verdicts on any other counts, prompting a mistrial.
Prosecutors made a series of significant adjustments, from dropping 29 counts each against defendants Mufid Abdulqader and Abdelrahman Odeh, to adding new witnesses who could put the charity support in context. In addition, jurors in this trial saw three exhibits Israeli military officials seized from the Palestinian Authority which showed the PA also considered HLF to be a Hamas financer and that an HLF-supported charity committee was controlled by Hamas.
The result was a much more streamlined case that followed a logical narrative, said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Seeing the Palestinian Authority reach the same conclusion as the U.S. government had to have helped, he said.
In addition, prosecutors provided summary exhibits that served as “a road map” to the case and had to help jurors deliberate, Margulies said. “The jury was able to look at the evidence and get past the perceived biases of any of the witnesses and see the evidence as a whole.”
That evidence made clear that the defendants knew where the money raised in the U.S. was going despite legal prohibitions against support for Hamas. […]
Prosecutors say HLF was part of a Palestine Committee — a conglomerate of U.S. based Muslim organizations and individuals committed to helping Hamas financially and politically. HLF was its fundraising arm, a designation formalized by Hamas deputy political director Mousa Abu Marzook in 1994. Support for Hamas became illegal with a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton and subsequent congressional action. […]
“This is one of the most significant victories the Justice Department has won in the war on terror,” said Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others for conspiring to blow up a series of New York landmarks. “Financing is the life-blood of jihadist organizations like Hamas. With the assistance of willing co-conspirators, they conceal their activities and use the Muslim obligation of charitable giving to mask support that is actually channeled to their murderous agenda. Today’s verdicts say, loudly and clearly, that Americans aren’t fooled and won’t tolerate it. As a former federal prosecutor, I am especially proud of the assistant U.S. attorneys who persevered through some real travails in securing justice for the American people.”…
Read it all.