Holy Land Foundation Prosecutors Move To Streamline Hamas Funding Terror Case

By WILLIAM MAYER and BEILA RABINOWITZ

September 3, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - With opening arguments in the nation's largest terror funding case set to commence on September 22, the U.S. Attorney's Office has taken steps to streamline the retrial of the U.S. vs Holy Land Foundation prosecution.

In all, a total of 29 counts against two HLF defendants Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader have been submitted to U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis for consideration of dismissal.

Should those charges be dropped, Odeh and Abdulqader still each face a possibility of nearly 60 years in prison on the remaining charges.

Rather than demonstrating weakness of the government's case, the move is seen to be an effort to streamline a prosecution which is almost Byzantine in its complexity, making it more accessible and understandable to the jury. The government still faces an uphill battle if only because the chain of evidence is extraordinarily complex.

The first prosecution was declared a mistrial by presiding Judge Joe Fish last summer, after a partial acquittal was rendered by the jury, which then expressed growing doubts as to the correctness of its conclusions.

Holy Land Foundation Backgrounder

The defendants in this Hamas financing case are, Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Haitham Maghawri, Akram Mishal, Mufid Abdulqader and Adulrahman Odeh

Hamas was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Yassin, and is "an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical and violent Islamist group which was founded in Egypt in 1928 and "is committed to the globalization of Islam through social engineering and violent jihad [holy war].

Hamas has a military wing "known as Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades" and "a social wing known as Dawa" with each component working to complement the other to achieve the same goal, a global caliphate, a world Islamic government operating under shari'a [Islamic law].

Through executive order 12947 [January 23, 1995] the president declared a national emergency to deal with organizations which through their violent attacks were seeking to upset the Middle East, so called peace process.

The executive order bans transactions - including those of a financial nature - with organizations and individuals listed in the annex of executive order 12497.

Hamas was named as a foreign terrorist organization on January 25, 1995 and any transactions with that organization after that date is unlawful.

The Muslim Brotherhood has "maintained a presence in the United States since at least the early 1980s."

In 1988, just after the creation of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was created in the United States by Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker and Mohammad El-Mezain.

From 1989-1991 the HLF was located in California and until 1991 it was called the Occupied Land Fund.

In 1992 the fund moved to Texas and incorporated there. The HLF maintained offices in several states including California, Illinois and New Jersey. The fund also had offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and a "presence" in Lebanon.

Baker was the HLF's President and CEO, his brother Jamal Abu Baker led Hamas in Sudan and later in Yemen.

El-Mezain was originally Chairman of the Board for the HLF, and later became Director of Endowments. He is the cousin of Hamas Deputy Political Chief Mousa Abu Marzook, who is a specially designated terrorist.

Ghassan Elashi was originally HLF's Treasurer and later became Chairman of the Board, he is also the incorporator of the HLF. Elashi is related by marriage to Hamas official, Mousa Abu Marzook.

Maghawri was the Executive Director of HLF.

Mishal was the Projects and Grants Director for HLF; he also is a cousin of Marzook's.

Abdulqader was a fundraiser for HLF and is Marzook's half-brother.

Odeh was HLF's New Jersey leader.

Over the span of HLF's existence it raised and distributed well over $12 million to Hamas.

HLF was intimately involved in Muslim Brotherhood related organizations such as the Islamic Association of Palestine, "dedicated to furthering the radical violent agenda of Hamas."

The HLF sponsored and organized conventions and meeting which featured radical Muslim imams and sheikhs who spoke to "inflame the audience and enhance fundraising."

In response to the negotiations surrounding the Oslo Accords, in 1993 members of the HLF met in Philadelphia, Baker, Elashi and Mughawri were in attendance.

The secret meeting was wiretapped by the FBI so it is known that at that meeting a conspiracy was launched whose intent was to shield HLF's activities from the U.S. government, projecting HLF as a mere charity with no ties to Hamas.

At the meeting Baker stated that "we can give $100,000 to the Islamists and $5,000 to the others." The others being non-radical Palestinian groups.

In 1994 Marzook recognized the HLF as the central fundraising tool for Hamas.

Two years previous, in 1992 the Israeli government deported over 400 members of Hamas to Southern Lebanon.

The indictment spans numerous conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to provide funds, goods and services to a specially designated terrorist, money laundering, conspiracy to impede and impair the IRS, file false tax statements,

The funds were transmitted to Hamas through intermediaries such as Dar el-Salam Hospital, the Islamic Charity Society of Hebron and the Zakat [charity] committees of Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tolkarem and Qalquilia.

The recipients of these funds were those most motivated to harbor extreme animosity against Israel and Jews ? families who had members jailed by the Israeli government or had been wounded or killed in battles with the IDF - so that the movement would be supplied with a constant stream of bitter radicals.

Ghassan Elashi has already been convicted and sentenced in the terror related Infocom prosecution. Infocom received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from HLF.

Elashi is the founder of the Texas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Saudi-funded, Hamas mouthpiece that grew directly out of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas affiliate the Islamic Association of Palestine [IAP]. The IAP received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from HLF.

The IAP was created specifically to serve as the public relations mouthpiece for Hamas in the United States and Ghassan Elashi was in attendance at the above noted 1993 "Philadelphia Meeting" in which the conspiracy to shield HLF's activities from federal scrutiny was launched.

[Editor's note: all quotes are taken directly from the amended indictment Click Here For U.S. v Holy Land Foundation, amended indictment]

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