Read it all. [End Update]
DALLAS -- The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States, but federal prosecutors argued Monday that underneath its surface lay an ominous goal: financing international terrorism.
After two months of testimony, closing arguments began Monday in the trial of the foundation and five of its leaders on charges of aiding terrorists, conspiracy and money laundering.The defense says the foundation was helping ordinary Palestinians in need.
Prosector Barry Jonas told the jury Monday that the Holy Land Foundation wasn't a normal charity at all. Authorities allege the foundation funneled more than $12 million to Palestinian schools and charities controlled by the militant group Hamas after the U.S. government declared Hamas a terrorist group in 1995, which made supporting it illegal.
Jonas played several videotapes in a bid to use the defendants' own words against them. One, he said, showed people singing pro-Hamas songs at a Holy Land fundraiser. Another captured one of the defendants, former Holy Land chairman Mohammed El-Mezain, urging force to remove Jews from former Arab lands.
CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in this case as pointed out by Hot Air, they are arguing against that status.
CAIR & Holy Land Foundation:
Mr. Ghassan Elashi, HLF chairman, is among the founders of the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Texas). Mr. Elashi was also vice president of InfoCom Corporation of Richardson, Texas, indicted along with Hamas' Marzook. InfoCom, an Internet company shared personnel, office space, and board members with the HLF. The two organizations were formed in California around the same time, and both received seed money from Hamas leader Marzook. InfoCom also maintained the web sites for HLF and IAP.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. was founded by members of the Hamas front organization Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), with funding from HLF. The Anti-Defamation League states that the HLF is a daughter organization of IAP.
As the LA Times points out:
Closing arguments are to begin today in what is widely seen as the most important terrorism financing trial the U.S. government has ever prosecuted.
After listening to testimony for two months, a federal jury this week will deliberate the fate of five defendants accused of helping the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development funnel millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists overseas.
The allegation of terrorist ties, denied by the defendants, surfaced in December 2001, when President Bush went to the White House Rose Garden and declared Holy Land -- then the nation's largest Islamic charity -- a front for Hamas.
Eight months later, a federal judge upheld the Treasury Department's decision to freeze the foundation's accounts and seize its four offices, including one in San Diego.
For the last five years, authorities have hailed Holy Land's closure as an important victory in the government's battle against terrorism.
Back in November of 2006, we posted about CAIR and the 6 Imams removed from a plane and in that post we showed the terror ties between CAIR and other groups, including the Hold Land Foundation.
Since its founding in 1994, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its employees have combined, conspired, and agreed with third parties, including, but not limited to, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (“HLF”), the Global Relief Foundation (“GRF”), and foreign nationals hostile to the interests of the United States, to provide material support to known terrorist organizations, to advance the Hamas agenda, and to propagate radical Islam. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, and certain of its officers, directors, and employees, have acted in support of, and in furtherance of, this conspiracy.
Senior CAIR employee Randall Todd Royer, a/k/a “Ismail” Royer, pled guilty and was sentenced to twenty years in prison for participating in a network of militant jihadists centered in Northern Virginia. He admitted to aiding and abetting three persons who sought training in a terrorist camp in Pakistan for the purpose of waging jihad against American troops in Afghanistan. Royer’s illegal actions occurred while he was employed with CAIR.
CAIR's Director of Community Relations, Bassem Khafagi , was arrested by the United States due to his ties with a terror-financing front group. Khafagi pled guilty to charges of visa and bank fraud, and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Khafagi’s illegal actions occurred while he was employed by CAIR.
On December 18, 2002, Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of CAIR-Texas, a founder of the Holy Land Foundation, and a brother-in-law of Musa Abu Marzook , was arrested by the United States and charged with, among other things, making false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist organization, conspiracy and money laundering. Ghassan Elashi committed his crimes while working at CAIR, and was found Guilty.
CAIR Board Member Imam Siraj Wahaj, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing, has called for replacing the American government with an Islamic caliphate, and warned that America will crumble unless it accepts Islam.
Consistent with Hamas ideology, CAIR has served as a conduit for the distribution of materials and funds from foreign nationals to groups and institutions within the United States for the purpose of promoting radical Islam and Hamas ideology, and attacked Islamic clerics and scholars who reject radical Islam and the Hamas agenda.
In December of 2006 we delved further into CAIR's relationship with the Hold Land Foundation as well as Keith Ellison's connection, read the whole thing to see how all of these groups are connected.
This is an important case and if a verdict comes back as guilty it also could be a good start to dissemble groups within the United States of America that are supporting terror groups abroad.
We will bring you the verdict when it comes in....