Trial of the Holy Land Foundation begins

Abdus Sattar Ghazali |

srpanj 24, 2007 – The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development went on trial today in Dallas, Texas as the federal agents were raiding two other Muslim charities in Dearborn, Michigan. The Holy Land was being tried on suspicion of aiding terrorism by helping the Palestinian militant group Hamas while the two Michigan charitiesthe Goodwill Charitable Organization and Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization were suspected of having ties to extremist groups in Lebanon. Just like the Holy Land, assets of the two Michigan charities have been frozen.

The Holy Land, founded in 1989 was one of the largest Muslim charities in the nation before it was shut down under executive orders in December 2001. It was one of six Muslim major charities in the country that have been shut in recent years as the Muslim charities were scrutinized and persecuted as part of a broader backlash against Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. Other five shut down charities are: Global Relief Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Islamic American Relief Agency and Kind Hearts USA.

Under a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the government has largely unchecked power to designate any group as a terrorist organization. When that happens, a group’s property may be seized and its assets frozen. The charity is unable to see the government’s evidence and thus understand the basis for the charges. And it has only a limited right of appeal. So, the government can target a charity, obtain indictments against its leaders, and then delay a trial indefinitely.

The Bush administration froze the Holy Land Foundation’s assets charging it with funneling money to Hamas, an allegation strongly refuted by the Holy Land officials. According to its mission statement, the Foundation is a humanitarian organization that works to findsolutions to human suffering,” primarily focusing on providing urgent nutritional and medical care to the destitute and displaced Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Palestina, and Lebanon.

The government says Hamassupport organization in the United States, known as thePalestinian Committee,” organized theOccupied Land Fund” u 1988. The name was later changed to the Holy Land Foundation. First based in California, the foundation moved to Richardson, Texas in 1992.

The defendants named in a 42-count indictment in 2004 are Holy Land Foundation, which federal authorities raided and shut down in December 2001; Shukri Abu Baker, the charity’s president; Ghassan Elashi, its chairman; Abdulrahman Odeh; Mohammad El-Mezain; and Mufid Abdulqader. Two other men named in the indictment remain fugitives.

This is the third trial involving Ghassan Elashi brothers. The court, because of the complexities of the investigation, decided to break the proceedings into three trials, with the one beginning today being the most expansive and the one directly related to the Holy Land Foundation. In summer 2004, five brothers who ran Infocom were convicted of selling computers to countries that support terrorism. In April 2005, three of the brothers were convicted of conspiracy, money laundering anddealing in the property of a terrorist.

Filed Under: IstaknutoHamasPalestinaStudije & Istraživanja


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