jury to begin deliberations in holy land trial

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					Jury to begin deliberations in Holy Land trial
10:05 PM CDT on Wednesday, September 19, 2007

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
jtrahan@dallasnews.com

Jurors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial began what is sure to be
several days of deliberations Wednesday as they start combing through hundreds of
documents and videos on the way to reaching a verdict.

Seven attorneys spoke for 2 ½ days during closing arguments. After the final government
rebuttal ended Wednesday afternoon, jurors received more than an hour's worth of verbal
instructions on how to apply the law to the mountain of evidence.

"It looks like a phonebook for a small city," said U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish, half-
apologetically, as jurors were handed their copies of the dense, 54-page legal instructions
The judge began reading the instructions but had to let his court coordinator finish after
his voice gave out.

"You are not partisans," but rather judges "of the facts," the instructions read.

Attached to the instructions was the 59-page verdict form, detailing the 197 individual
decisions the jurors must unanimously make. That large number of decisions stems from
having to apply all the counts in the indictment to each defendant.

Each of the five former Holy Land organizers is charged with supporting a terrorist
organization and money laundering over allegations that they funneled more than $12
million to Palestinian zakat charity committees, which the government says are controlled
by Hamas. The two who ran Holy Land, Shukri Abu Baker and Ghassan Elashi, are also
accused of tax fraud.

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutor Nathan Garrett acknowledged the daunting task before
jurors.

"What we ask of you folks is entirely unreasonable: sit here for eight weeks and listen to
us talk about hundreds and hundreds of documents," he said in his final statement. "You
asked for a drink of water, and we turned on the fire hose."

He implored jurors to not "rush to judgment."

"I want you to bring your life experience and your common sense, your God-given
common sense of reason," he said.

Mr. Garrett also attacked one of the defense's star witnesses, Edward Abington, a former
U.S. consul general to Jerusalem who also was once the State Department's No. 2
intelligence chief. Mr. Abington testified that even though he was briefed daily by the
CIA during his years in Israel, he was never told that the zakat committees were Hamas-
controlled.

Mr. Garrett said he was "embarrassed" by Mr. Abington's testimony, given his former
stature in the government.

Through its alleged targeting of families of suicide bombers for aid, Holy Land "helped
guarantee a commitment to a love of martyrdom and a terrorist organization bent on the
annihilation of a civilization [Israel]," an emotional Mr. Garrett told jurors.

Linda Moreno, attorney for Mr. Elashi, defended Mr. Abington's expertise, assailing
government expert witness Matt Levitt as a "self-proclaimed expert" whose book on
Hamas was "Israeli propaganda." She said that both he and one of the government's
Israeli government agents, who testified under a pseudonym, had never been to a zakat
committee.

"This case will say a lot about us as a people," Ms. Moreno said during her closing
argument. "This is the one time in your life when you know that your vote really counts."

END
Holy Land defense cites free speech
Attorneys say views express emotion over Palestinian conflict
09:47 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 18, 2007

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
jtrahan@dallasnews.com

Defense attorneys on Tuesday said that their clients' radical views – caught on tape and
presented to jurors during the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial – were rooted
in their deep feelings over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and are protected by free speech
rights.

Greg Westfall, attorney for defendant Abdulrahman Odeh, on Tuesday tried to explain a
1995 phone call his client made to co-defendant Mohammad El-Mezain to tell him "a
beautiful operation just took place," when a Hamas suicide bomber killed 18 Israelis.
"May it be good, God's willing," Mr. El-Mezain replied.

Mr. Westfall told jurors during closing arguments to remember that the phone call was
made only a year after Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Jewish settler, killed 29
Muslim worshippers in Hebron.

The attack, described as the worst by Jewish extremists against Palestinians, set off riots
and suicide bombings.

"I have no experience parallel to what it's like to be a Palestinian," said Mr. Westfall of
Fort Worth.

After the Goldstein killings, Jewish settlers "erected a monument commemorating him,"
Mr. Westfall said. "And how that looks through the eyes of a Palestinian is the only way
you can begin to understand why Mr. Odeh might be happy to see something bad happen
to Israel."

Earlier, Marlo Cadeddu, attorney for Mufid Abdulqader, a Holy Land fundraiser and
member of a Palestinian folk band that played at foundation events, invoked the First
Amendment in defense of her client, who was caught on videotape performing a skit in
which he pretended to kill a man playing an Israeli at a Holy Land fundraiser.

"How am I going to explain those videotapes?" Ms. Cadeddu asked rhetorically. "I don't
have to. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution means that you can talk, you can
sing, you can perform a skit about anything you like."

She admitted that Mr. Abdulqader has "strong feelings about Israel," but "this is a skit
dramatizing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was a time when there was all this emotion
around the world. People have been under occupation for decades."
The five defense attorneys are expected to finish their closing arguments today, followed
by a brief government rebuttal. The judge will instruct jurors on how to apply the law to
the charges, then turn the case over to them for deliberations.

The government alleges that the Holy Land organizers were engaged in a worldwide
conspiracy with Islamic terrorists to raise millions of dollars in America for the
Palestinian group Hamas. They are not accused of any acts of violence here or abroad.
Defense attorneys have said their clients ran a legitimate charity and were not a front for
terrorists.

END
Professor challenges government testimony in Holy
Land trial
09:28 PM CDT on Monday, September 10, 2007

By JASON TRAHAN/ The Dallas Morning News
jtrahan@dallasnews.com

A Middle Eastern expert testifying Monday on behalf of the Holy Land Foundation
defendants questioned the reliability of a star government witness, an Israeli government
agent who testified under a pseudonym.

Nathan Brown, a political science and international affairs professor at George
Washington University, told jurors Monday that the testimony of "Avi," a Shin Bet
counterterrorism analyst and attorney, lacked "social and political context."

"Avi" testified last month that the zakat, or charity committees, to which Holy Land sent
millions of dollars were staffed by Hamas members. The former Richardson charity and
five of its former organizers are on trial accused of supporting Hamas, a terrorist group,
through these charities.

But Dr. Brown, an expert on Middle Eastern charities, told jurors that "Avi" relied too
much on a questionable cache of documents seized by the Israeli military and Middle
Eastern press accounts to draw his conclusions.

"His lack of political and historical background would not allow him to approach press
accounts with a critical eye," Dr. Brown testified.

Dr. Brown also bolstered the testimony last week of defense witness Edward Abington,
former U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, who testified that posters lauding suicide
bombers and Hamas, found in the possession of zakat committees, were hardly evidence
of the committees' terrorist ties.

"I was struck that every blank wall was plastered with posters of martyrs," Dr. Brown
testified Monday, recalling a trip he made to the region in 2000. Holy Land is accused of
illegally sending money between 1995 and 2001, when it was shut down by U.S.
authorities.

Dr. Brown also challenged "Avi's" testimony that stated the presence of Hamas members
or sympathizers on zakat committee boards was evidence they were controlled by
terrorists.

"Hamas at this point is a party with broad popular support," said Dr. Brown, referencing
Hamas candidates' victories in last year's Palestinian elections. "These zakat committees
are not administrative-heavy groups. Their job is to collect money, certify need and give
it out. It's not an institution where a director would have much latitude as to what the
zakat is doing."

Under cross examination, Dr. Brown acknowledged that he was not an expert on
terrorism and has only studied certain aspects of Hamas. "I'm in the process of becoming
one," Dr. Brown testified, when asked by prosecutor Nathan Garrett if he was a Hamas
expert. He said he was working on a book on the subject.

When asked his personal opinion of Hamas, Dr. Brown said, "I think they're leading the
Palestinians into disaster." He then characterized Hamas as "an organization that engages
in terrorism, but that's not all they do."

END

				
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