- On January 25, 1995, Bill Clinton issued Executive Order
12947 - Prohibiting Transactions With Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt
the Middle East Peace Process.
- The same year, Hamas was declared a Foreign Terrorist
Organization (FTO). It's still one today, so any individual or group charged
with providing it material support (true or false) is prosecuted unjustly.
- On December 4, 2001, the Treasury Department declared
the Holy Land Foundation a terrorist group, froze its assets, and falsely
claimed it was used to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas.
- Truth and justice are endangered in America. During Bush's
eight years, their legitimacy and importance were targeted. Under Obama,
they're on the chopping block for elimination to advance Washington's global
- Until shut down, the HLF was America's largest Muslim
charity. Founded in 1989 in Culver City, CA, it shifted operations to Richardson,
TX. It provides vital relief to Palestinian refugees in Occupied Palestine,
Lebanon and Jordan as well as aid for needy recipients in Bosnia, Albania,
Chechnya, Turkey and America.
- With an annual budget of about $14 million, it "provided
continuous volunteering and services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area."
- Its major activities included:
- financial aid to needy and impoverished families;
- a sponsorship program for orphaned children;
- various social services;
- educational services;
- medical and other emergency work; and
- community development, including help to rebuild Palestinian
homes Israel destroyed lawlessly in violation of international law.
- In its own words, it said:
- "We gave:
- books, not bombs;
- bread, not bullets;
- smiles, not scars;
- toys, not tanks;
- peace, not terror;
- liberty, not poverty;
- hope, not despair;
- love, not hate; (and)
- life, not death."
- Its principles and other employees were heros, not terrorists
or involved in conspiracy to commit it. Nonetheless, the five principles
were charged, prosecuted and convicted. They received sentences ranging
from 15 to 65 years.
- Attorney Nancy Hollander represented HLF President and
CEO Shukri Abu Baker. She said he "was convicted of providing charity.
There was not, in ten years of wiretapping his home, his office, looking
at his faxes, listening to everything he said, there was not one word out
of his mouth about violence to anyone or about support for Hamas."
- Post-9/11, crimes are what prosecutors call criminal.
Innocence doesn't matter. Victims are guilty by accusation. Justice is
denied for political advantage. Muslims are America's target of choice.
It's the wrong time here to practice Islam.
- It's also criminal to feed hungry Muslim children and
provide them other humanitarian aid. Imperial America wants them vilified
to justify global war on terror crimes.
- As a result, co-founder, President and CEO Shukri Abu
Baker received 65 years in prison.
- Co-founder, Chairman and former Executive Director Ghassan
Elashi also got 65 years.
- Mohammed el-Mezain, former Chairman, Head of California
Operation 15 years.
- Top fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader 20 years, and
- Abdulrahman Odeh, Director of HLF East (New Jersey) 15
- On October 19, 2010, attorneys submitted a 149-page brief.
It provided convincing evidence of wrongful convictions. Appellate issues
- (1) Names of two prosecutorial witnesses were withheld
from defense attorneys, including its key one. Doing so violated Fifth
Amendment due process rights and the Sixth Amendment's right of a defendant
to confront accusers.
- (2) The district court allowed prejudicial hearsay evidence.
One source admitted sending money to Hamas. He also defrauded his employer
of $610,000 in a scam unrelated to HLF. Moreover, he cheated on his taxes
and lied to the FBI. As part of a plea bargain, he agreed to lie again
under oath - against innocent HLF principles.
- (3) The court allowed irrelevant prejudicial evidence
to be presented. It included alleged Hamas suicide bombing exhibits, killing
Israeli collaborators, a video showing demonstrators stomping on and burning
the American flag, and more. All of it was unrelated to the case.
- (4) Irrelevant prejudicial testimonies were also allowed,
including erroneous legal and religious opinions.
- (5) At the same time, the court denied defense attorneys
the right to review government recorded, intercepted, or otherwise gotten
statements, based on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority.
- FISA, in fact, is classic police state tyranny. It violates
Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
It also requires warrants to be judicially sanctioned, based on clear probable
- However, using undisclosed (likely manufactured) secret
evidence, FISA permits unrestricted warrantless spying, data mining, and
intercept of domestic and foreign Internet, telephone, and other communications,
based on alleged national security threats.
- As a result, it permits illegal searches, seizures, and
privacy invasions. Anyone now for real or concocted reasons may be charged,
convicted and imprisoned for alleged crimes they never conceived, planned
- Based on Sixth Amendment issues, the National Association
of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) submitted an amicus brief for HLF defendants.
- In part, it states:
- "If the Confrontation Clause means anything, it
is that a criminal defendant must be allowed to know his accusers (to)
have a fair opportunity to cross-examine them. Yet an expert witness whose
testimony was critical to proving the government's case was allowed to
- The witness called "Avi" had no relevance to
the case. An alleged Hamas/Palestinian Islamic charities (zakat committees)
expert, he belonged to Israel intelligence or security.
- "The total secrecy of Avi's identity is unprecedented:
no reported cases have ever approved fully anonymous expert testimony like"
his. As a result, the right of defense attorneys to cross-examine Avi was
- However, Judge Solis wrongfully claimed revealing his
identity, and another anonymous witness called "Major Lior,"
would harm national security. Moreover, with no evidentiary hearing, prosecutors
said doing so would place them in harm's way.
- By allowing their testimony to stand, the appeals court
"mark(ed) a significant departure from existing case law."
- As a result, justice demands overturning HLF defendants'
- Sixth Amendment protections require revealing the true
identify of expert witnesses to defense attorneys; and
- Confrontation Clause rights forbid secret witness testimonies,
"no matter the circumstances."
- Based on Fifth Amendment due process violations and material
support issues, Georgetown University Law Professor David Cole and attorney
J Craig Jett of Burleson, Pate & Gibson submitted his own amicus brief.
- Twenty organizations provided amicus support as interested
- American Friends Service Committee
- Atlantic Philanthropies
- The Carter Center
- Christian Peacemaker Teams
- The Constitutional Project
- The Nathan Cummings Foundation
- The Fund for Constitutional Government
- Global Greengrants Fund
- Grantmakers Without Borders
- Grassroots International
- The Humanitarian Law Project
- Islamic Relief USA
- Milt Lauenstein
- Operation USA
- The Peace Appeal Foundation
- The Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- The Samuel Rubin Foundation
- Rutherford Institute
- Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund
- The Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights
- In part, the brief addresses whether anyone "can
be convicted for violating a prohibition on 'knowingly' providing 'material
support' to designated 'foreign terrorist organizations' without proof
that he or she knowingly" did it.
- Defendants, in fact, were convicted on multiple counts
even though the district judge's jury instructions relied on an erroneous
and dangerously expansive interpretation of the material-support statute.
- As a result, legitimate charitable work henceforth will
be jeopardized based on unsubstantiated charges.
- In fact, five recipient West Bank charities receiving
HLF funds weren't designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs). Yet
district court instructions told jurors they could find defendants guilty
without proof of FTO connections.
- Even prosecutors didn't advance that argument. As a result,
failing to reverse these wrongful convictions will have a chilling effect
on legitimate charitable work. None henceforth will know if they'll be
free from criminal investigation, prosecution, or conviction.
- "Amici maintain that the judge's jury charge violates
fundamental due process principles requiring fair notice of what conduct
is prohibited, as well as proof of individual culpability. Moreover, the
jury charge conflicts with (requiring) proof that defendants knew that
they were supporting a designated organization."
- On September 1, 2011, the US 5th Circuit Appeals Court
heard arguments for the defendants. On December 7, it upheld their convictions.
- On December 8, Reuters headlined, "Muslim charity
leaders lose appeal in Hamas case," saying:
- "The organizers of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation
argued they were denied a fair trial in 2008 when the government used secret
Israeli witnesses to testify against them. The organizers also raised a
host of constitutional challenges to the evidence presented against them
- "The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected
those challenges, concluding that 'while no trial is perfect,' Holy Land
and its leaders were fairly convicted. The court pointed to 'voluminous
evidence' that the foundation, which was started in the late 1980s, had
long-running financial ties to Hamas."
- In fact, they provided aid legally to needy Palestinians
through zakat committees. The Court falsely accused them of links to Hamas.
Judge Caroly King wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel:
- "By supporting such entities, the defendants facilitated
Hamas' activity by furthering its popularity among Palestinians and by
providing a funding resource. This, in turn, allowed Hamas to concentrate
its efforts on violent activity."
- Appeals lawyers argued that prosecutors should have been
denied permission to have Israeli witnesses testify anonymously. As a result,
they weren't able to determine their credentials and credibility.
- Abdulrahman Odeh's attorney Gregory Westfall, said the
Constitution's Confrontation Clause didn't apply to these witnesses. He
added that a Supreme Court appeal is likely. An uphill struggle remains
for justice so far denied.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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