Copyright 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC; All Rights Reserved
The New York Sun, June 4, 2007 Monday
HEADLINE: Islamic Groups Named in Hamas Funding Case
BYLINE: JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun
Federal prosecutors have named three prominent Islamic organizations in America as participants in an
alleged criminal conspiracy to support a Palestinian Arab terrorist group, Hamas.
Prosecutors applied the label of “unindicted co-conspirator” to the Council on American-Islamic Relations,
the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust in connection with a trial
planned in Texas next month for five officials of a defunct charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief
While the foundation was charged in the case, which was filed in 2004, none of the other groups was.
However, the co-conspirator designation could be a blow to the credibility of the national Islamic
organizations, which often work hand-in-hand with government officials engaged in outreach to the Muslim
A court filing by the government last week listed the three prominent groups among about 300 individuals or
entities named as co-conspirators. The document gave scant details, but prosecutors described CAIR as a
present or past member of “the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.”
The government listed the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust as
“entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”
The secretary-general of the Islamic Society of North America, Muneer Fareed, said his group was surprised
to be named in the Texas case. “I can tell you categorically that the current administration of ISNA, as well
as its stakeholders, they have no connection to my knowledge with any Holy Land foundations,” he said.
Mr. Fareed denied his group has any ties to Hamas, though he said it is difficult to police all 300 mosques
under his umbrella. “We might have a kid whose dad was president of Hamas for all I know,” he said. “How
do you verify these things?”
The Islamic official expressed frustration at the lack of detail in the prosecution’s filing. “Perhaps there’s
some evidence. I just don’t really know what it is,” he said.
Spokesmen for CAIR did not respond to messages seeking comment yesterday. Efforts to contact the North
American Islamic Trust were unsuccessful.
The identification of the alleged co-conspirators could aid prosecutors when the Holy Land Foundation and
five of its officials, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, and
Abdulraham Odeh, go to trial on July 16 in Dallas. Statements by and about co-conspirators are exempt from
rules barring hearsay.
Judge A. Joe Fish will have to decide whether to accept the government’s description of the alleged
The practice of publicly naming unindicted co-conspirators is frowned on by some in the legal community,
chiefly because there is no trial or other mechanism for those named to challenge their designation. Justice
Department guidelines discourage the public identification of unindicted co-conspirators by the government.
“In all public filings and proceedings, federal prosecutors should remain sensitive to the privacy and
reputation interests of uncharged third-parties,” the Justice Department’s manual for prosecutors says. When
co-conspirator lists have to be filed in court, prosecutors should seek to file them under seal, the guidelines
In practice, the lists are often made public. A list of co-conspirators was released in connection with the
federal trial in 2005 of a former college professor, Sami Al-Arian, on terrorism support charges. However,
when Enron executives went on trial last year, the list of alleged co-conspirators was kept under seal.
Prosecutors on the Holy Land Foundation case could not be reached yesterday and did not respond to an e-
The inclusion of the Islamic groups on the list of alleged conspirators could give ammunition to critics of the
organizations. CAIR, in particular, has faced persistent claims that it is soft on terrorism. Critics note that
several former CAIR officials have been convicted or deported after being charged with fraud, embargo
violations, or aiding terrorist training. Spokesmen for the group have also raised eyebrows for offering
generic denunciations of terrorism but refusing to condemn by name specific Islamic terrorist groups such as
Hamas or Hezbollah.
In addition, one of the Holy Land Foundation defendants, Ghassan Elashi, founded CAIR’s Texas chapter.
CAIR’s Washington office was also set up in 1994 with $5,000 in seed money from the foundation,
according to congressional testimony by a researcher into Islamic extremism, Steven Emerson.
Last year, Senator Boxer of California, a Democrat, withdrew an award she gave to an official at a local
CAIR chapter. She said she had concerns about statements by some CAIR officials and about claims of
financial links to terrorism. Many FBI officials meet regularly with CAIR representatives and clerics from
the Islamic Society of North America.
A New York Times article published in March said unidentified government officials believed that the
criticism of CAIR was unwarranted. A former FBI official, Michael Rolince, said yesterday that the co-
conspirator designation might prompt CAIR to be more direct in denouncing terrorism but was no reason to
cut off all contact with the group.
“People could say the same thing about the FBI. They’re not all choirboys,” he said. “We don’t go into this
with blinders on.”
Separately, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, Steve McGonigle, is fighting the prosecution’s efforts to
call him as a witness at the Holy Land Foundation trial.
In filing to quash the subpoena last week, Mr. McGonigle said prosecutors want to question him about an
interview that he conducted in 1999 with the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Yassin, who
was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004, denied any connection between Holy Land Foundation and
However, Mr. McGonigle reported that records showed that the foundation sometimes singled out the
families of Hamas “martyrs” for assistance.
Mr. McGonigle’s lawyer said his client could be targeted by terrorists if he forced to testify. “A journalist
who is perceived to have acted as an agent for the U.S. Government will almost inevitably be placed at a
substantially greater risk when on assignment in the Middle East,” the attorney, Paul Watler, wrote.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press
All Rights Reserved, The Associated Press State & Local Wire, March 2, 2007 Friday 1:06 AM GMT
SECTION: STATE AND REGIONAL
HEADLINE: Muslim charity’s lawyers question government evidence
Prosecutors in a terrorism-funding case say they are trying to learn how a summary of government wiretap
transcripts falsely reported that leaders of a Muslim charity used anti-Jewish slurs.
Prosecutors said in court papers this week they are trying to contact the language specialist who prepared the
Attorneys for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development say such errors show that the
government’s summaries of wiretapped conversations are useless. They are demanding more access to
classified information that they say would disprove the government’s case against the charity and seven
The defunct group and several of its leaders are charged with aiding the militant group Hamas, which the
U.S. government deemed a terrorist group. The government says Holy Land funneled money to groups in the
West Bank and Gaza that aided families of suicide bombers.
The charity was raided and shut down by authorities in 2002, and the trial is scheduled for this summer in
federal district court in Dallas.
Defense lawyers are trying to get access to classified wiretaps of Holy Land officials. The government has
released declassified summaries of some of the intercepted conversations.
A summary of a 1996 wiretap included anti-Jewish slurs not found in a transcript of the recorded
conversation. Holy Land’s lawyers said the mistakes showed that declassified summaries provided to the
defense “are at best useless and at worst misleading.”
In a footnote to a court filing Monday, prosecutors said the government “is attempting to determine the
reason for the discrepancy between the summary and the transcript.”
Prosecutors also protested that other than the slurs that did not appear in the verbatim transcript, the summary
was an otherwise accurate distillation of the conversation among Holy Land officials. They said defense
lawyers were overreacting to a mistake in “a single summary out of thousands.”
Defense lawyers also asked Judge A. Joe Fish for access to government documents on activities of the U.S.
Agency for International Development. They say the federal agency has helped groups linked to the same
Middle Eastern charities that prosecutors allege are controlled by Hamas and were aided by Holy Land.
Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times, All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2007 Thursday, Home Edition
SECTION: MAIN NEWS; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 16
HEADLINE: The Nation; Judge rejects request by Muslim charity
BYLINE: Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer
A federal judge in Dallas has denied a request to declassify thousands of pages of FBI evidence in the
prosecution of a Muslim charity, but said it was disturbing that a recently unsealed document falsely accused
charity officials of anti-Jewish slurs.
In his ruling against lawyers for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, U.S. District Judge
A. Joe Fish concluded there was insufficient evidence to show the inaccuracies were part of a “widespread
problem” with the government’s evidence.
At the same time, Fish advised defense lawyers to return to court if they found more government summaries
that were “significantly inaccurate or misleading.”
The now-defunct Muslim charity and seven former officials face criminal charges alleging financial ties to
the Islamic militant group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Fish, agreeing with the government, said there was no justification for a defense request to declassify about
10 years’ worth of surveillance based on the apparent fabrications found in the government’s April 15, 1996,
The document claimed that two Holy Land officials now facing trial made anti-Jewish remarks. But their
supposed comments are not in the transcripts.
The alleged remarks included one Holy Land official calling Israel “the government of the demons” and
telling a colleague, “Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their high priests ... the sons of snakes and
The judge said he found it disturbing that the government’s summary included inflammatory language not
found in the transcripts.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors had no comment Wednesday on the ruling.
In their motion, defense lawyers said they had recently received declassified summaries representing about
10% of the conversations recorded by the government in court-authorized surveillance. They worried that
additional discrepancies could exist in the documents.
“During the limited period that [we have] had access to declassified transcripts, we have discovered other
errors both technical and contextual,” defense lawyers wrote in their motion.
They said additional errors included a document that was “summarized inaccurately” and misled them in
assessing whether potential witnesses were likely to help or hurt the defense.
The Holy Land Foundation, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity, was closed by the government five
years ago. Its former officials are accused of providing money to overseas charities controlled by Hamas.
The defendants deny any links to terrorism or knowledge that charities they funded had ties to Hamas.
The defendants also noted that some of the overseas charities linked in the indictment to terrorists had been
supported by numerous groups, including the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times, All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2007 Wednesday, Home Edition
SECTION: MAIN NEWS; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 14
HEADLINE: False quotes rock terror trial; Federal prosecutors say they’ll probe a botched wiretap
summary. The defense wants more documents declassified to verify accuracy.
BYLINE: Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer
The mystery of how and why a government wiretap summary falsely attributed anti-Jewish slurs to officials
of a Muslim charity remained unanswered Tuesday as federal prosecutors pledged to look into the matter.
In court papers filed late Monday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas said it was trying to determine how the
recently declassified summary of a 1996 FBI wiretap of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and
Development included vitriolic language that was not found in a verbatim transcript of a recorded
“The government is attempting to determine the reason for the discrepancy between the summary and the
transcript,” prosecutors said, adding that officials wanted to locate the language specialist who prepared the
Meanwhile, the unexplained discrepancies have brought potential controversy to the government’s biggest
terrorism funding case to date.
According to the discredited summary, Holy Land officials referred to Israel as “the government of the
demons” and to Jews as trying “to rob as much money as possible from the American taxpayers for the
illegitimate excuse of protecting and preserving the chosen people of God.”
One Muslim charity official supposedly told a colleague: “Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their
high priests ... the sons of snakes and scorpions.”
None of those comments was contained in a 13-page verbatim transcript of the conversation recorded April
15, 1996, by the FBI. In response, defense lawyers demanded declassification of large portions of the
government’s documents in the case.
On Monday, federal prosecutors argued that the discrepancies were not serious enough to justify such
Five years ago, authorities shut down what was then the nation’s largest Muslim charity on grounds that it
was a fundraising front for the Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. In
2004, federal prosecutors charged seven former Holy Land officials, six of them U.S. citizens, with sending
money to overseas charities controlled by Hamas, an accusation they deny.
Defense attorneys asked U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish to declassify 10 years worth of wiretapped
conversations and faxes after discovering the faulty summary among the first batch they reviewed.
Without declassifying the government’s evidence in the case, defense attorneys argued, they would have no
way of knowing whether other documents had discrepancies or inaccuracies because the classified originals
of documents could not be shared with their clients.
In response, government prosecutors said it was “an overreaction” to extrapolate that all of the government
summaries were useless on the basis of discrepancies found in one set of documents.
Prosecutors also said the contested summary, while including some language not found in the transcript,
“does not otherwise misrepresent the substance of the conversation” among the Holy Land officials.
Defense attorneys, who declined to comment Tuesday, have argued that the government summary
“fundamentally distorted” the conversation by attributing “an anti-Semitic diatribe” to the foundation
The lead prosecutor in the case said there would be no comment beyond court filings.
In the meantime, defense attorneys filed a new request with the judge to gain access to government
documents they contend will show the U.S. Agency for International Development has funded or worked
with organizations that are linked to the same overseas’ charities allegedly controlled by Hamas and named
in the indictment.
Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times, All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times February 25, 2007 Sunday, Home Edition
SECTION: MAIN NEWS; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 18
HEADLINE: THE NATION; Charity’s lawyers say quotes were fabricated; A summary of a wiretap of a
Muslim group has anti-Semitic slurs that do not appear in the actual transcript.
BYLINE: Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer
When the Bush administration shut down the nation’s largest Muslim charity five years ago, officials of the
Dallas-based foundation denied allegations it was linked to terrorists and insisted that a number of
accusations were fabricated by the government.
Now, attorneys for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development say the government’s own
documents provide evidence of that claim.
In recent court filings, defense lawyers disclosed striking discrepancies between an official summary and the
verbatim transcripts of an FBI-wiretapped conversation in 1996 involving Holy Land officials.
The summary attributes inflammatory, anti-Semitic comments to Holy Land officials that are not found in a
13-page transcript of the recorded conversation. It recently was turned over to the defense by the government
in an exchange of evidence.
Citing the unexplained discrepancies, defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish in Dallas to
declassify thousands of hours of FBI surveillance recordings, so that full transcripts would replace
government summaries as evidence.
The demand could force government prosecutors to either declassify evidence it has fought to keep secret or
risk losing a critical portion of evidence in its case.
In December, the judge denied a defense request to declassify the documents so they could be examined by
defendants in the case. Seven former foundation officials, six of them U.S. citizens, have been charged with
funneling money to overseas charities controlled by Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign
terrorist organization. The defendants have denied the charges.
Though defense attorneys already have government clearances that allow them to review the material, under
the federal Classified Information Procedures Act they have been prohibited from sharing it with their
clients. And unless the act’s rules are declared unconstitutional in the case, defense attorneys argue, the
defendants will have no way of proving that the statements attributed to them were misconstrued or never
The recently declassified summary of surveillance on April 15, 1996, asserts that during a conversation
wiretapped by the FBI, Holy Land’s former executive director Shukri Abu Baker told two associates there
was no need to worry about the foundation being unfairly targeted because U.S. courts were not under the
control of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or its sponsor, “the government of the demons of
The summary portrays Baker as raging against “the Jews of the world” and as claiming that Jews have no
allegiance to anything but “their pockets and to preserving the illegal Zionist state of Israel.”
Additional anti-Semitic comments the FBI summary attributed to Baker or Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s
former board chairman, included:
* “Their [Jews’] only purpose here in the U.S. is to purchase as many politicians as possible and to warp the
way the American Christians feel and think not just about the Christian religion but mainly about the
Palestinian people ... and to rob as much money as possible from American taxpayers for the illegitimate
excuse of protecting and preserving the chosen people of God.”
* “Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their high priests ... the sons of snakes and scorpions.”
* “I am confident that in the end justice, and not the Jews, will prevail. I believe that there is still justice in
None of those quotes was contained in a 13-page transcript of the conversation, defense lawyers said in their
motion to expand access to classified evidence.
“Throughout the run-up to trial, the government has insisted that the defendants can learn what is contained
in the [surveillance] intercepts by reading the so-called ‘summaries’ of those intercepts,” defense attorneys
said in their papers.
But the recently disclosed transcript, attorneys said, shows that “not only are the summaries so inaccurate
and misleading as to be useless,” but that the “author of the attached summary has cynically and maliciously
attributed to the defendants racist invective and inculpatory remarks the defendants never uttered.”
“It is appalling that such summaries even exist, much less that the government represented that this is all our
clients need to know in order to defend themselves.”
Defense lawyers declined to comment about their motion. A federal prosecutor said the government would
respond with its own filings to the court.
How the summary and transcript could be so different was unclear, though experts in the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act arena theorized that its top-secret nature may have led some analysts to believe that the
work product would never be publicly disclosed, much less entered into evidence in a trial.
Because the court records are heavily redacted, it could not be determined who provided the summaries of
the FBI wiretaps.
Other alleged discrepancies also have dogged the case. Holy Land lawyers challenged the accuracy of an FBI
memo, for example, that quoted a foundation office manager as telling Israeli authorities that charitable funds
were “channeled to Hamas.”
But defense lawyers told the court the translation from Arabic to Hebrew to English distorted the official’s
original statement, and that he should have been quoted as saying, “We have no connection to Hamas.”
The Holy Land Foundation was closed weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the
Pentagon. The action followed years of efforts by Israel and many pro-Israeli groups in the U.S. to close the
foundation on the grounds that it was a fundraising front for Hamas.
The former Holy Land officials facing trial are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to
terrorists by sending money, goods and services to Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas, a U.S.-
designated terrorist group since 1995.
Copyright 2007 International Enforcement Law Reporter
International Enforcement Law Reporter, February 2007
SECTION: COUNTER-TERRORISM, SANCTIONS AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTSII.
MUTUAL AND JUDICIAL ASSISTANCE; Vol. 23, No. 2I. MONEY LAUNDERING, BANK SECRECY,
AND COUNTER-TERRORIST FINANCIAL ENFORCEMENT
HEADLINE: Holy Land Foundation Moves to Dismiss U.S. Indictment
BYLINE: Bruce Zagaris
On December 11, 2006, counsel for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and
other defendants filed a supplemental motion in the U.S. District Court in Dallas to dismiss some of the
counts of the superseding against them on the ground that those counts are based upon President Clinton’s
unconstitutional designation of Hamas as a specially designated terrorist in Executive Order (EO) 12,947. n1
n1 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, U.S. Dist. Court for the N.D. Tex., Dallas
Div., No. 3:04-CR-240-G, Defendants Supplem. Motion and Memo to Dismiss Certain Counts of the
The supplemental pleading refers to the decision on November 21, 2006, in which the Judge Audrey B.
Collins in the case of Humanitarian Law Project v. Dept. of Treasury held that the Presidential authority to
designate groups under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), 50 U.S.C. [[1701-06,
such as that exercised by President Clinton in EO 12,947 violates the constitution because the terms of the
EO are impermissibly vague. n2 E In particular, counsel for HLF argue that the court concluded that, while
the Secretary of Treasury’s discretion was limited both by the wording of the EO and by the regulations
issued under the EO, the President’s discretion was unfettered as a result of the lack of any criteria by which
the President was required to exercise his authority, as well as the absence of any mechanism by which an
individual or group might challenge that designation. n3 An additional concern cited by Judge Collins was
that the procedures to challenge designations made by the Secretary of Treasury are not clearly available
with respect to designations made by the President. n4
n2 Humanitarian Law Project v. Dept. of Treasury, 2006 WL 3477787, * 13-14.
n3 Id. at Para. 13.
n4 Id. at Para. 13-14.
HLF counsel also contend that, similar to the flaws in EO 13,224, EO 12,947 fails to offer guidance or
process for individuals or organizations designated by the President. In this regard, President designated
Hamas in the Annex to the EO without offering any explanation of the basis for the designation, thereby
circumventing the criteria and procedures set forth in the EO itself and related regulations. Additionally, the
Presidential Order provided no mechanism which Hamas or the other listed groups could challenge their
designation. As a result, HLF counsel argue that the Presidential designation of individuals and
organizations, including Hamas in the Annex to EO 12947 is facially unconstitutional.
Because Counts 13-28 of the Superseding Indictment are based on the allegation that HLF and other
defendants violated EO 12,947 by providing support to Hamas, an activity the President sought to ban when
he designated Hamas in the Annex to the Order, HLF argue that the designation is void ab initio and the
allegation that the defendants supported Hamas in violation of EO 12,947 cannot be the basis for a claim that
they committed crimes under IEEPA and money laundering crimes under 18 U.S.C. [1956(a)(2).
Prior to 2001, HLF was the largest U.S. Muslim charity, obtaining more than $$57 million in contributions,
gifts and grants from 1992 to 2001. Counsel for two other charities said they expected to file similar motions.
Some of the Islamic charities are defunct, left bankrupt by designation litigation. The other Islamic charities
whose assets have been frozen since September 11, 2001 include the Benevolence International Foundation,
the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, the Islamic American Relief Agency,
and Kind Hearts USA. n5
n5 Neil MacFarquhar, Muslim Charity Sues Treasury Dept. And Seeks Dismissal of Charges of Terrorism,
N.Y. Times, Dec. 12, 2006, at A22, col. 1.
Until now, constitutional challenges to criminal prosecutions based on the IEEPA and export control laws
have rarely succeeded. The coinciding Humanitarian Law Project n6 and Mujahidin (ECJ) n7 cases are
focusing attention on due process issues in formulating lists and removing listed names. International
organizations, foreign governments, and civil society groups increasingly question the fairness of some
n6 Humanitarian Law Project v. U.S. Department of Treasury, U.S. District Court, C.D. Ca., CV 05-8047
ABC (RMCx), Order re: Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendants Motion to Dismiss and
Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, Nov. 27, 2005; Bruce Zagaris, U.S. District Court Blocks
Enforcement of Unconstitutional 9/11 Executive Order, 23 Int l Enforcement L. Rep. __ (Feb. 2007).
n7 Organisation des Modjahedines du peuple d Iran v. Council of the European Union, Court of First
Instance of the European Communities (Second Chamber), Case T-22/02, Dec.12, 2006; Bruce Zagaris,
European Court Annuls Asset Freeze Against Iran Group For Due Process Defects, 23 Int l Enforcement L.
Rep. __ (Feb. 2007).
Copyright 2007 The Manhattan Institute d.b.a. City Journal
City Journal, Winter 2007
SECTION: Pg. 7-9 Vol. 17 No. 1
HEADLINE: Soundings: “Muslim Mau-Mauing”
BYLINE: Rod Dreher
Two years after standing on the Brooklyn Bridge and watching the second tower fall, I joined the Dallas
Morning News. My wife, a native Dallasite, praises our new city as “a September 10 kind of place.” She
means that the anxieties attending our post-9/11 New York life simply don’t exist here. The downside is that
people lull themselves into a false sense of security about the Muslim community. From where I sit, it looks
to me as though the entire mainstream media also live in a September 10 kind of place. We--and I say “we”
because I’m part of the dreaded MSM--really don’t want to know what’s happening among Muslims in
Dallas, Brooklyn, or anywhere else.
Dallas is home to a large and relatively prosperous Muslim community. The Dallas Central Mosque is
Texas’s largest. The area’s Muslims, though, have had a contentious relationship in recent years with the
Dallas Morning News, mostly because of the paper’s groundbreaking 2001 reporting on the Holy Land
Foundation, whose leadership is now under federal terrorism indictment. Since then, local Muslim leaders
have engaged in a running dialogue with the News, with the declared aim of improving relations.
It was in that spirit that Sayyid Syeed, then head of the Islamic Society of North America, came in, together
with a local delegation, to see the editorial board a few months after I arrived from New York in 2003. Syeed
made a laborious presentation about how journalists needed to join with the organization in promoting peace,
tolerance, and reconciliation. I knew something about ISNA and asked Syeed why--if his group truly
supported peace and suchlike--its board included members directly linked to Islamic extremism and anti-
Semitism, including the notorious Wahhabi-trained Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj. The professorial Syeed
dropped his polite mask, shook his fist at me, told me that I would one day “repent,” and compared my
question with a Nazi inquisition.
Hysterical indignation, I soon learned, is the standard operating procedure for Islamic groups in dealing with
the media in this town. Shortly after the Syeed meeting, I published a column in the News decrying the
media’s evasion of legitimate questions about Islamic figures and organizations, hoping to shame journalists
into posing them. That’s how I became, in the designation of one (now-defunct) Muslim website dedicated to
criticizing the News, “the new face of hate.”
I then joined that Islamic site’s e-mail list--which contained several prominent Dallas Muslims--under my
own name. Before the site operators discovered my presence and booted me off, I printed out e-mails in
which participants discussed a plan to approach business and religious leaders in town and persuade them to
lean on the News’s publisher to fire me as a danger to Muslims. “Dreher needs to be ruined,” one e-mailer
wrote. “When people here [sic] the name ‘Rod Dreher’ the image of David Duke should appear in their
mind’s eye. So, a campaign must be planned and carefully executed to expose this hate-monger and render
him a joke.” Naturally, I publicized the plans and made sure that copies of the e-mails got into the hands of
the newspaper’s lawyers. That apparently ended that.
I kept making a pest of myself, though, pointing out in columns and editorial-board blog postings
inconvenient truths about Dallas’s Muslim community--that, for instance, the leading local imam, who
positions himself as an avuncular ecumenicist, had praised on his website the radical Islamists Hasan al-
Turabi and Yusuf Qaradawi as the kind of scholars American Muslims should consult. I also helped get into
the News’s editorial pages disturbing facts: that the Dallas Central Mosque had participated in a contest that
assigned the best-known work of the fanatical Islamic revolutionary Sayyid Qutb to teenage readers, for
example, and that some local Muslim leaders had attended a “Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary”--that
would be the Ayatollah Khomeini--at a suburban mosque.
This December, another delegation of local Muslim leaders trooped into the News to meet with the editorial
board, mostly to complain about, well, me, and to clear up misunderstandings that my supposedly biased
rantings might have caused among my colleagues. It was a classic performance. The group obfuscated and
bullied, seeking to skirt some tough questions--such as whether they wanted sharia imposed as the law of the
land--and trying to make the journalists on hand feel guilty for even asking. What the Muslims were counting
on: 1) a lack of specific knowledge about Islam and Islamic figures on the audience’s part; and 2) the
audience’s ideological sympathy for them as members of a mistrusted minority.
Luckily, we had in the room a News reporter recently reassigned from our London bureau. He speaks Arabic
and had covered the London subway bombings. When the Muslim group tried to claim that Sayyid Qutb was
a fringe figure, my newsroom colleague said no, he’s not, and one can easily find his work in Islamic
bookshops in England, where it has contributed to the radicalization of British Muslim youth. So it wasn’t
just that right-wing Dreher guy from New York--traumatized by 9/11, alas for him--asking these questions.
It’s amazing how undone these Muslim leaders become when informed journalists, refusing to be intimidated
into embarrassed silence, confront them with the facts.
Later, after I blogged about the meeting, the group’s leader fired off an e-mail to me and my supervisors
accusing me of single-handedly burning every bridge built between the Dallas Muslim community and the
newspaper. I’d hate for that to be true. But far worse for those bridges to remain standing if built on the
dangerous notion that the news media should always publish happy-clappy news about local Muslims and
shun any healthy suspicion about things such as Khomeini tributes, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hate
literature showing up in mosque libraries (as happened here), and the like.
Copyright 2006 The Birmingham News, All Rights Reserved
Birmingham News (Alabama), December 24, 2006 Sunday
SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 2B Vol. 119 No. 286
HEADLINE: Past time to build peace, hope
BYLINE: Raed Awad, For The Birmingham News
For a while now, there has been a great deal of intense discussion in the community about me personally and
about my past association as a fund-raiser for an American Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation.
I am an American citizen originally from Ramallah, Palestine, a major city in the West Bank. I studied
Islamic law in Medina, and obtained my degree in 1982. I have lived in the United States since 1984. I was
an imam for a mosque in Florida for some time, and while in Florida, I was a volunteer and later an
employee of the Holy Land Foundation. I resigned from the foundation in 2000 and soon moved to
Montgomery. I came to Birmingham in 2004 and currently am a member of the Birmingham Islamic Society.
In 2002, the U.S. attorney’s office brought charges against some of the leaders of the Holy Land
Foundation, accusing them of diverting some of the foundation’s funds to Hamas as a part of terrorist
activity against Israelis. When information about my past connection to the foundation came to light, it
created a great deal of controversy, confusion and conflict.
I deeply regret the difficulty and pain this has caused for all of us. But I ask people to hear two parts of what
I have to say since the two parts are related.
First, I want to say I take the charges against the Holy Land Foundation very seriously. At the same time, I
believe I must remind everyone that the government’s case against the foundation is still to be decided (a
trial is scheduled for early 2007). I do not know how to say strongly enough that if these charges against the
foundation are true, then I am extremely sorry that I raised even $1 for the group. I never had even the first
indication any money of the foundation or any money I raised was going for anything other than the charity
work for hospitals, schools and impoverished families. No one can claim to be a person of God who kills any
innocent person, and no one can claim to be a person of faith who does not do all he or she can to save every
I also want to say clearly that I have never been a member or supporter of Hamas, and I completely reject the
call for the destruction of Israel. I am also glad to tell anyone that I recognize the right of Israel to exist and
to dwell in safety, as much as I affirm the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state and to dwell
Still, in all honesty and kindness, especially to friends of Israel, I believe I must say a few other things.
I do not believe it will surprise anyone to hear that, as a Palestinian American, I cannot and will not forget
the pain of my own native Palestinian people, and it is my strongest hope that people on all sides of the
conflict in the Middle East can begin to acknowledge each other’s deep pain and passionate hopes. I cannot
promise I will not speak out about the struggles of the Palestinian people and their legitimate hopes for their
own independent state dwelling in safety as a sister beside Israel.
I also cannot promise I will not speak out against the occupation or against actions of the Israeli government
when I think it makes mistakes and causes pain to innocent Palestinians. I certainly do promise I will speak
out, however, when Palestinians cause suffering to Israelis, and I ask all of our communities, Muslim, Jewish
and Christian, to join together in a renewed pledge to seek the human welfare of each other, both here and in
the Middle East. I genuinely hope and pray for a journey toward peace for all of us.
I am glad to talk face to face with anyone who is troubled or concerned about any of these issues to answer
their questions. Indeed, I ask that as faith communities and faith leaders, we begin to have these kinds of
conversations directly since it is easy for people to become afraid and angry when there is no
The time is long past for us all in Birmingham and around the world to begin again to build peace and hope
for all people. I promise from my heart to join in that goal.
Raed Awad is on the board of directors of the Birmingham Islamic Society. E-mail:
Copyright 2006 Facts on File, Inc.
Facts on File World News Digest, December 21, 2006
SECTION: Pg. 973B2
HEADLINE: Supreme Court; ‘New York Times’ Phone Records Appeal Denied
The Supreme Court November 27 rejected the New York Times’s request to stay an August 1 appeals court
decision that had allowed prosecutors to review the telephone records of reporter Philip Shenon and former
reporter Judith Miller. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had sought 11 days of records from September and
December 2001 in an effort to identify sources who might have informed the reporters of impending asset
freezes and raids on the Islamic charities Global Relief Foundation and Holy Land Foundation, which were
suspected of links to terrorists. The two reporters had called the charities for comment shortly before the
raids, potentially tipping them off. [See 2006 CIA Leak Investigation: Ex-State Official Revealed as Novak
Source; 2004 Media: ABC Apologizes for NFL Segment; Other Developments]
A federal judge had sided with the paper in 2005, but a panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
reversed the ruling, 2-1. The Supreme Court’s action allowed Fitzgerald’s grand jury probe to proceed while
the Times prepared a formal appeal. The statute of limitations on some of the crimes allegedly committed
expired December 13, calling into question whether criminal charges would ever be filed in the case.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times, December 12, 2006
HEADLINE: Department. Muslim Charity Sues Treasury Dept. and Seeks Dismissal of Charges of
BYLINE: NEIL MACFARQUHAR
In a new challenge to Washington over its closing several American Muslim charities that it has accused of
aiding terrorism, the largest such group sued on Monday seeking dismissal of many of the charges.
Lawyers for the group, the Holy Land Foundation of Richardson, Tex., filed suit in Federal District Court in
Dallas two weeks after a federal judge in California called into question a crucial provision in designating
terrorist supporters. Since December 2001, the Treasury Department has designated Holy Land and five
other Muslim charities in the United States as terrorist supporters, seizing millions of dollars in assets and
halting their activities.
No accused charity or any senior officer have been convicted on a charge of terrorism. Some charities have
faced no criminal charges.
In a separate case against a Georgia man whom the prosecution identified as a fund-raiser for Holy Land, the
defendant pleaded guilty this year to sending money to Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian political party that
Washington first designated as a terrorist organization in 1995.
The foundation denies that the man had an official post.
The government has accused the foundation of having been the American fund-raising arm of Hamas. The
charity and five officers are expected to go on trial in July on charges of financing a foreign terrorist
organization, money laundering and tax fraud.
In October, Ghassan Elashi, a founder and former chairman of the charity, was sentenced to more than six
years in prison after he and four brothers were convicted of violating export laws by shipping computers to
Syria and Libya, both once on the United States list of terrorism sponsors. Libya was removed this year.
Last year, Mr. Elashi and two brothers were convicted of helping a Hamas leader launder money.
The Treasury Department's repeated refusal to unfreeze charities' assets so they can be sent abroad has
provoked alarm and frustration in the philanthropic world.
''The question is not whether the individual nonprofits are guilty as organizations,'' said Kay Guinane of
OMB Watch, a Washington group advocating government transparency.
''The issue is whether there is a fair process to determine that and how to protect the charitable dollars so they
are used for the intended purposes,'' Ms. Guinane said. ''What Treasury has done is treat charities the same
way they treat the criminal process. It has really hurt the U.S. image in the places where the aid was expected
and where people were depending on it.''
Early last month, philanthropic groups from across the nation sent Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulsen Jr. a
letter asking that he find a way to release the assets to their intended recipients. Mr. Paulsen has not
responded, Ms. Guinane said.
A spokeswoman for the department, Molly Millerwise, said courts, citing national security, had repeatedly
upheld the government's use of secret evidence to freeze assets of charitable organizations.
''These institutions have been designated because they are financing terrorism,'' Ms. Millerwise said. ''We
have to make sure that the money is kept in place and does not go to illicit ends.''
Critics say the law prevents the airing of secret evidence in such cases. ''When Treasury says the courts have
upheld its action, they are saying the courts found its action was not arbitrary and capricious,'' Ms. Guinane
said. ''Not that the court made any kind of independent determination of the merits or factual accuracy.''
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Bryan Sierra, said he could not comment on the Holy Land motion
because it was too new. As a matter of procedure, Mr. Sierra said, prosecution does not automatically follow
the designation of a charity as a terrorist organization.
''Not every case is a criminal case,'' he said. ''It's a question of can you come up with enough evidence to
prosecute based on a violation of the statutes of material support for terrorism.''
Charitable giving is one of the five pillars of Islam, and the closing of Muslim charities has become a major
source of American Muslims' distrust of the federal government.
Many American Muslims accuse the government of, at best, acting out of fear and ignorance to tamp
contributions. At worst, they say the Bush administration focuses on Arab and Muslim groups critical of
United States policy in the Middle East, particularly charities that aid poor Palestinians in the territories
occupied by Israel.
''That was a valve that does not put the Palestinian population under pressure,'' Hatem Bazian, a professor of
Near Eastern studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said. ''If you starve them, they will take the
deal the least acceptable to them.''
The government says just Muslim charities have been designated because they are the ones that terrorist
groups have penetrated.
''The sad truth is that we have seen groups like Hamas and Al Qaeda infiltrate the charitable community, and
specifically the Arab and Muslim charitable community,'' Ms. Millerwise said. ''When we do find evidence
that any group is providing material or financial support, we have a responsibility to act against them and
designate them and put the world on notice that this group is facilitating terrorists.''
Holy Land was once the largest American Muslim charity, receiving more than $57 million in contributions,
gifts and grants from 1992 to 2001, the indictment says. It seeks to have more than half the charges in the 42-
count indictment dismissed, based on the ruling last month by Judge Audrey B. Collins in Federal District
Court in Los Angeles.
Judge Collins said an executive order used to identify organizations and individuals as ''specially designated
global terrorists'' violated the Constitution because it was too vague. Other districts are not bound by the
ruling. Congress has largely ignored the question.
Lawyers for two other charities said they expected to file similar motions. Lawyers for two others said they
were defunct, left bankrupt by challenging terrorism designations.
American Muslim organizations acknowledge that Islamic charities overseas funneled money and arms to
support Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. But they say guilt by association rather than hard evidence has
become a judicial standard for them in the United States.
''The government's claim of national security is a way to conceal government misconduct rather than state
secrets,'' said Matthew J. Piers, the lawyer for the Benevolence International Foundation, a defunct charity
that had been in Illinois.
Charity officials say the United States is shooting itself in the foot. Rather than spending millions on failed
advertising to improve its image, the officials say, Washington should let the charities work where it is not
''People are saying that this is not about this or that charity, it's about Islam,'' said Khalil Jassemm, who
helped found Life for Relief and Development, a charity in Michigan. ''We could be a humanitarian bridge to
the Muslim world, but nobody thinks about that.''
Correction: December 13, 2006, Wednesday An article and headline yesterday about a response by the
Holy Land Foundation to federal charges that it aided terrorism misstated the legal action the organization
took on Monday. It filed a motion to dismiss several charges against it; it did not sue the Treasury.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times, October 14, 2006 Saturday Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Column 1; National Desk; Pg. 8
HEADLINE: Leader of a Georgia Mosque Pleads Guilty to Aiding Hamas
BYLINE: By BRENDA GOODMAN DATELINE: ATLANTA, Oct. 13
In a case kept secret for nearly two months, the religious leader of a mosque in Rome, Ga., has pleaded guilty
to providing financial support to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, federal prosecutors said Friday.
The government said the 42-year-old defendant, Mohamed Shorbagi, a citizen of the Palestinian territories
who is living legally in the United States with his wife and young children, was charged on Aug. 28 with
providing aid to Hamas through donations he made to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and
Development, an Islamic charity shut down by federal authorities in 2001.
Mr. Shorbagi was also a Georgia representative for the Holy Land Foundation and attended meetings that
were addressed by ‘‘high level’’ Hamas officials, said David E. Nahmias, the United States attorney for the
Northern District of Georgia.
Mr. Nahmias hinted that there could be more legal action to follow, saying the charges and the plea
agreement involving Mr. Shorbagi were being unsealed now ‘‘because we expected it to be made public in
the near future in another forum as part of Mr. Shorbagi’s cooperation.’’
Support for Hamas is illegal, because the government deems it a foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors
said Mr. Shorbagi provided financial help to the group from 1997 until the Holy Land Foundation was shut
down five years ago. In pleading guilty to material support of terrorism, he agreed to serve a maximum
prison term of 15 years and pay restitution of at least $240,000 to unidentified victims of that support.
Still, the plea agreement provides that if he cooperates ‘‘truthfully and completely,’’ as is expected, the
government may recommend a lesser sentence.
Michael J. Trost, an Atlanta lawyer representing Mr. Shorbagi, declined to characterize the government’s
case, but did say ‘‘mitigating factors’’ would become public at sentencing.
President Bush ordered the Holy Land Foundation closed in December 2001, saying that by raising money
in the United States and funneling it to Hamas, the group ‘‘pays for murder abroad.’’
Seven former board members and fund-raisers for Holy Land, six of whom are American citizens, have
previously been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists because they gave money to
charities believed run by Hamas and to the orphans and families of ‘‘martyrs’’ killed in the Palestinian
There has been little public examination of the evidence against the defendants, however, and the
government’s efforts have been criticized because of their high level of secrecy.
‘‘The facts of these cases are never actually released,’’ said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Council
on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington. ‘‘There’s no public scrutiny except what the
government chooses to release. The perception is that they’re being heavy-handed and the Muslim
community is being unfairly targeted.’’
John W. Boyd, a partner in an Albuquerque law firm that has represented the Holy Land Foundation, said
he was not familiar with the particulars of the case against Mr. Shorbagi and so could not comment on its
merits. But he did say he was dismayed to hear that a donor to Holy Land had been charged, since, he said,
that was likely to discourage people from giving to Palestinian relief organizations.
‘‘It certainly is going to have that effect if there’s any aroma that donors are being targeted,’’ Mr. Boyd said.
‘‘If they’re now going to make it so that Islamic charities can’t function at all, that’s pretty dire.’’
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times, All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2006 Sunday, Home Edition
SECTION: MAIN NEWS; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 10
HEADLINE: THE NATION;
Questions Arise Over Case Against Islamic Charity; Federal prosecutors rely heavily on Israeli intelligence,
court records indicate.
BYLINE: Greg Krikorian, Times Staff Writer
The Justice Department’s criminal case against officials of the largest U.S.-based Islamic charity relies more
heavily than previously known on Israeli intelligence, court records show.
President Bush ordered the charity shut down in December 2001, declaring from the Rose Garden that the
Holy Land Foundation was raising money in the U.S. that “pays for murder abroad” by the Palestinian
militant group Hamas.
However, the pending criminal case will place a higher burden of proof on the claims than required for the
president’s executive action. And questions about the credibility of Israeli intelligence are raising fresh
doubts about the Justice Department’s case.
Disputes already have surfaced over assertions of political influence, interrogation methods and allegedly
Federal prosecutors, accusing charity officials of aiding terrorists, have disclosed receiving 21 binders of
documents from the Israeli government, according to records originally sealed by the court. The binders
contain an estimated 8,000 pages that, in sheer volume, dwarf earlier shared intelligence -- including Israeli
military and police reports, translated interrogation transcripts and financial analyses.
Previous intelligence from Israel was a factor in 2001 when the White House, with great fanfare, froze assets
of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based in Richardson, Texas.
Those claims, however, were never subjected to the kind of rigorous legal challenge expected in a criminal
Seven former Holy Land officials, six of them American citizens, are charged with conspiracy to provide
material support to terrorists, sending money, goods and services to terrorists through Palestinian
organizations controlled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group since 1995.
They have denied assisting Hamas.
The case figures to hinge on the government’s ability to prove, largely with Israeli-provided information, that
the defendants knowingly supported groups tied to Hamas. Israel’s prominent investigative role appears to be
unprecedented in post-Sept. 11 terrorism cases.
Defense lawyers already have argued that allegations against Holy Land are unwarranted and influenced by
political pressure from Tel Aviv. Bush’s presidential order closing down the charity came on the eve of a
White House visit by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The case also is being questioned by outside lawyers and legal scholars, warning that the government’s
heavy reliance on foreign-sourced intelligence could be a problem for prosecutors. Significant legal
challenges are predicted over differing evidence-gathering techniques, language barriers and alleged
“What really makes me nervous is the foreign translations,” said Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, a
former deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration. “Nuances are important in languages, so things
can get lost in translations.”
Toensing said dependence on another country’s evidence in a criminal case was fraught with potential
problems. “I would only want it as frosting on the cake,” said the former prosecutor, who said she had not
reviewed the Holy Land case.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley added that long-standing tensions between
Israel and Hamas could taint the evidence.
“It is always dangerous to rely on intelligence from [a country] that is at ground zero in a dispute,” he said.
Turley also called the case “one of the most troubling since 9/11,” in part because the original action shutting
down the charity required no evidentiary hearings to prove any of the alleged terrorist ties.
Federal prosecutors would not discuss the case.
Israeli Embassy officials declined to comment.
Defense lawyers, who would not discuss evidence in the case, served notice that they intended to challenge
the origins and credibility of Israeli information.
“There are going to be serious issues regarding the admissibility of this evidence,” said Nancy Hollander, a
lawyer representing Shukri Abu Baker, the charity’s former president and chief executive.
John Boyd, representing the Holy Land Foundation, criticized the role of Israel and said, “American
citizens are being prosecuted at the behest of Israel and face many years in prison based on evidence supplied
Contents of the evidence binders provided by Israel have not been disclosed, but court records make clear
that they are considered sensitive.
During one hearing, for example, prosecutors revealed that the Israeli government retained control over what
specific intelligence materials the U.S. could use publicly. And Justice Department lawyers traveled to Israel
this year to negotiate what could be disclosed in court, prosecutors acknowledged.
The case already was complicated by reliance on classified information developed by U.S. intelligence
sources. Earlier this year, the government’s case was stung by the unintended release of some of those
classified documents to defense lawyers. A bid by prosecutors to compel return of those records was rejected
by a federal judge.
The degree of secrecy surrounding prosecution of Holy Land makes it difficult to assess the strength of the
Court records available to the public show that Israeli intelligence is central to a claim that the charity
specifically earmarked money for the families of suicide bombers. That allegation was based on records
seized in an Israeli raid on Holy Land’s Jerusalem offices a decade ago.
U.S. prosecutors allege that Holy Land officials dispensing aid favored the relatives of terrorists. Such a
practice “effectively rewarded past, and encouraged future, suicide bombings and terrorist activities” by
Hamas, according to the federal indictment.
The Justice Department also accused the charity of supporting terrorists by helping zakat committees, the
Muslim equivalent of grass-roots social-welfare programs.
Attorney Boyd said Holy Land was never warned of such terrorist ties.
“Our government maintains a very long list of people and organizations that are affiliated with terrorism, and
none of the organizations that the Holy Land Foundation is accused of working with has ever been on that
list,” Boyd said.
Holy Land’s charitable gifts, transferred in the form of international wire transactions, records show, are part
of the evidence acquired by federal investigators. However, allegations that the recipients have links to
Hamas appear to rely heavily on information provided by Israel.
Some of the potential prosecution problems with the Israeli intelligence are reflected in earlier court filings.
For example, an FBI memo noted that a Jerusalem office manager for Holy Land supposedly told Israeli
authorities that charity “was channeled to Hamas.”
But defense lawyers countered that the translation from Arabic to Hebrew to English distorted the official’s
statement and that he should have been quoted as saying, “We have no connection to Hamas.”
Attorneys have disputed other interrogation translations as well. But the most intriguing disagreement may
center on the meaning of a single word: “martyr.”
Among documents cited by the government is an “orphans book” seized by FBI agents from Holy Land’s
headquarters here. It includes the photos of about 400 Palestinian youths, most of them in Gaza, who
received financial aid from the foundation.
A review by The Times found that 69 of the youths were listed as the sons and daughters of “martyrs.”
In much of the West, the term has come to be synonymous with suicide bombers. But others, including Holy
Land defenders and Middle East scholars, say “martyr” can be applied to rather common accidents and
In a sworn statement, the former head of Holy Land’s Gaza office, Mohammed Abumoharram, said social
workers who interviewed all the families of the so-called martyrs found that four died making bombs and a
dozen others were killed in clashes with Israeli troops. However, he said in his statement, others included
victims of a robbery, a heart attack, a prison fight, a car accident and a stray bullet.
Most strikingly, eight of the so-called martyrs reportedly were suspected Israeli collaborators, killed by
fellow Palestinians for helping Israel.
“What I can say without any question is that there are many orphans whose fathers are called ‘martyr’ who
were not guilty of any acts of terrorism on behalf of Hamas or anyone else,” he said.
Israel’s involvement in the case was first noted by the original federal judge considering Holy Land’s appeal
of its shutdown. In a July 2002 hearing, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler asked a federal prosecutor how
much of the government’s large administrative record came from the Israeli government.
The government lawyer said it would be “difficult” to quantify, but she acknowledged that “an abundance of
intelligence” came from the Israeli government.
Such reliance on a foreign intelligence agency poses other obstacles in U.S. criminal court proceedings.
For example, who is likely to testify to validate the intelligence data as evidence?
“If you are talking about Israeli intelligence officials testifying or providing information, then you have
serious hearsay problems, serious bias problems,” said Georgetown University law professor David Cole.
“And I think it could be very questionable as to whether that evidence could be introduced.”
Copyright 2006 City News Service, Inc., All Rights Reserved
City News Service, March 22, 2006 Wednesday 7:03 PM PST
HEADLINE: Magistrate Recommends Release of Former Holy Land Foundation Fund-raiser
BYLINE: JENNIFER ENGLISH
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES
A federal magistrate has recommended releasing a Buena Park man with alleged terrorism ties who has been
jailed by immigration authorities since his arrest nearly two years ago, court papers showed today.
Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan was the head fund-raiser for the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, a charity U.S.
officials shut down in 2001 on grounds it was supporting the Palestinian organization Hamas -- which was
designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government in 1997.
Hamdan was arrested in July 2004 at the same time as the foundation’s president, director and head of
endowments were also taken into custody. Unlike those leaders of the group, however, he was not indicted
on terror charges, but instead charged and ordered held on an immigration violation. Meanwhile, the other
Holy Land Foundation leaders were released pending trial, after a judge found they were not threats to
In July, lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition challenging Hamdan’s detention,
arguing there is no evidence the Jordanian citizen is a danger to national security.
Although Hamdan, 45, was previously found deportable by an immigration judge, his case was made more
complex by the same judge’s finding that he should not be returned to his home country of Jordan because of
concern he would be tortured in that country.
In a 14-page recommendation that will go to a federal judge for approval, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey
Johnson wrote that bond should be granted.
Johnson wrote that he did not take “lightly” the allegations of Hamdan’s support of Hamas.
“There is ample evidence in the record to suggest that petitioner, at the very least, should reasonably have
known that HLF was funding terrorist activity,” Johnson said.
However, Johnson noted that the government “has not found petitioner’s involvement with HLF so
significant as to warrant a criminal indictment.”
Despite allegations by U.S. Justice Department attorneys that Hamdan is dangerous, the government also has
not certified Hamdan as a national security threat, Johnson wrote in his recommendation signed yesterday.
“This court can only interpret this to mean that the government does not now believe that petitioner’s known
activities mandate certification that petitioner is a significant threat to this country,” his recommendation
Although an immigration judge found Hamdan deportable, Johnson found that several factors indicate there
is not a significant likelihood he will actually be deported in the “reasonably foreseeable future.”
In fact, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals may rule on Hamdan’s behalf in his deportation case, Johnson
Based on that finding, Johnson found that authorities should have released Hamdan within six months of his
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Virginia Kice, referred questions about the
case to the U.S. Justice Department, where no one could be reached after business hours.
An attorney who argued the case for the ACLU also could not be reached immediately to comment on the
According to the court documents, Hamdan was born on the West Bank, and first came to the United States
in 1979 on a student visa. He overstayed that visa, and after returning from a visit to Jordan in 1992,
immigration authorities initiated deportation proceedings.
Five years into that process, the Holy Land Foundation tried unsuccessfully to get a religious worker visa
for Hamdan. Their request was denied because he worked for the charity as a paid fund-raiser, not a religious
worker, according to the court papers.
When he was arrested in 2004, ICE charged him with violating his student visa, and later added the charge
that he was in the United States without a visa.
Johnson wrote that his analysis of Hamdan’s appeal shows that he “may well” prevail on his argument that
he should not be returned to Jordan.
Although U.S. officials could then opt to send Hamdan to another country, Johnson wrote that there is no
reason to believe that will happen.
“Nothing in the record indicates that petitioner has more than cursory ties to any country other than the
United States and his native Jordan,” Johnson wrote.
“In addition, even if petitioner did have ties to an alternative country, it is not likely that another country
would accept petitioner in light of the allegations made against him by the United States government.”