Christian Action Network

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Muslim charity accused of terror funding in US court

DALLAS, United States (AFP) – A jury Tuesday began hearing evidence in a terrorist financing trial involving what was once the nation’s largest Muslim charity in a case that will test the US government’s newest tool in the war on terror.  The prosecutor opened Tuesday’s session by reading the 40-page indictment, which is an outline of alleged crimes. Prosecutors contend the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development sent at least 12 million dollars to committees in Palestine controlled by Hamas out of funds it had collected at mosques and radical fundraisers throughout the United States. The US government designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995, making it illegal to support the group, even in the form of humanitarian aid. US regulators froze the Texas-based charity’s assets three months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, capping what was then an eight-year investigation. President George W. Bush hailed the crackdown in a Rose Garden press conference where he said the charity was among those who “do business with terror.” A team of attorneys for the charity and five of its organizers — one of whom has been convicted on other terror-related charges — are expected to argue that the foundation was in no way linked to Hamas, and simply provided aid to the victims of the bloody Arab-Israeli conflict. Two other men charged in the indictment are considered fugitives. Supporters say that the Palestinian committees, known as “zakat” or alm-giving committees, that the Holy Land Foundation sent its money to for disbursement in the region were not criminal enterprises, as alleged by the government. “These zakat committees, licensed by the Palestinian Authority government, received aid from many international charities funded by the US,” according to a statement by Hungry For Justice, a coalition of mostly US Muslim groups in support of the Holy Land Foundation. “In fact, this is still the case, and the US government has never explained why HLF was singled out for prosecution.” After the United States froze Holy Land’s assets, several other Muslim charities were subsequently implicated in the administration’s attempt to block what it considered more funneling of funds to terrorist groups. This policy has been roundly criticized by many in the Muslim community as fueled by Islamic prejudice made worse after the September 11 attacks. Holy Land’s supporters also decry that prosecutors highlighted the family ties some of the defendants have to Hamas leaders. “Most people would be in trouble if they were held accountable for the decisions their relatives make,” Hungry For Justice said in a statement Monday evening. “After all, President Bush’s own grandfather had his assets frozen in 1942 for doing business with Nazi Germany under the Trading with the Enemy Act, but the Jewish population is not demanding reparations from the President for his family’s miscalculated judgments.” In two other similar terrorism financing trials, US prosecutors failed to get convictions on the most serious terrorism support charges, calling into question the government’s ability to tie American charities to terrorist groups. The 11 women and seven on the Holy Land jury are expected to sit for at least three months of testimony. The mammoth case, the largest of its kind in US history, will feature reams of documents, many of which were supplied by the Israeli government.  Defense attorneys are expected to seize on this point, telling jurors that any evidence originating from Israeli sources carries a political taint.  To convict, jurors must be convinced that the charity and its organizers sent humanitarian aid to Palestine knowing it would help Hamas.

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July 25, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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