a short course, part 13

The Holy Land Trial: On the Trail
of the Muslim Brotherhood

 

An extensive FBI investigation and federal prosecution resulted in convictions that shed light on the Muslim Brotherhood’s operations in the United States. In addition to the convictions of five defendants for terrorist funding-related activity, the Texas trial produced a Justice Department list of “un-indicted co-conspirators” with the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a terrorist fundraising front for Hamas.

Many of those un-indicted co-conspirators are individuals and organizations who are prominent in Muslim advocacy today, and who have cast themselves as mainstream Muslims. Many are also identified as Muslim Brotherhood operatives.

This section of the Team B report on shariah describes the Holy Land Foundation trial.

Between July and September 2007, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas, along with attorneys from Main Justice (DOJ), working with FBI case agents and analysts from the FBI Dallas Field Office tried the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLFRD or simply HLF) and its senior leadership in U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of Texas.

At the time, HLF was the largest Muslim charity in North America, and funneled money and assistance to Hamas overseas in support of their terrorist operations. Hamas had been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. government in 1995.

Uncontested evidence provides unprecedented insights

In the course of the HLF trial, scores of exhibits and testimony were introduced into evidence uncontested by the defense. Taken together, they provided unprecedented insights into the web of connections among a handful of alleged Hamas front groups that have operated on American soil throughout the 1990s to this day.

This network serves as a central node in the Muslim Brotherhood’s wider U.S. organizational infrastructure.

HLF was the largest Hamas front organization ever prosecuted by the U.S. government; its trial was the largest in the history of official efforts to counter terrorism financing in America.

On October 22, 2007, after 19 days of deliberation, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges against the defendants. U.S. District Judge Joe A. Fish declared a mistrial after a decision could not be reached.

In September 2008, the second Holy Land Foundation trial began. On November 24, 2008, after six weeks of testimony and seven days of deliberation, the jury convicted HLF and five of its leaders on charges of providing material support to Hamas. As the Department of Justice stated at the time:

The government presented evidence at trial that, as the U.S. began to scrutinize individuals and entities in the United States who were raising funds for terrorist groups in the mid-1990s, the HLF intentionally hid its financial support for Hamas behind the guise of charitable donations.

HLF and these five defendants provided approximately $12.4 million in support to Hamas and its goal of creating an Islamic Palestinian state by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad.

Commenting on the verdicts, Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, observed:

Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism. For many years, the Holy Land Foundation used the guise of charity to raise and funnel millions of dollars to the infrastructure of the Hamas terror organization. This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.

The following sentences were handed down for the defendants:

  • Shukri Abu Baker, 50, of Garland, Texas, was sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison. He was convicted of 10 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; 11 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, funds, goods and services to a Specially Designated Terrorist; 10 counts of conspiracy to commit, and the commission of, money laundering; one count of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and one count of filing a false tax return.
  • Mohammad El-Mezain, 55, of San Diego, California, was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 15 years in prison. He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
  • Ghassan Elashi, 55, of Richardson, Texas, was sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison. He was convicted on the same counts as Abu Baker, and one additional count of filing a false tax return.
  • Mufid Abdulqader, 49, of Richardson, Texas, was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison. He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, one count of conspiracy to provide goods, funds, and services to a specially designated terrorist, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
  • Abdulrahman Odeh, 49, of Patterson, New Jersey, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was convicted on the same counts as Abdulqader.
  • HLF, now defunct, was convicted on 10 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; 11 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, funds, goods and services to a Specially Designated Terrorist; and 10 counts of conspiracy to commit,and the commission of, money laundering.

It should be emphasized that all these defendants were proven to be leaders of Hamas in the United States and, therefore, Muslim Brotherhood operatives.

Unfortunately, on April 1, 2010, Assistant Attorney General David Kris, who heads the Justice Department’s National Security Division, denied a request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas for further prosecutions in the HLF trial.

The prosecutions were to be aimed specifically at the Muslim Brotherhood fronts that were designated as unindicted co-conspirators. Despite the efforts of the USAO-Dallas and the FBI Dallas Office, the Department of Justice is not supporting any further action.

The question occurs: Is the reason for quashing such criminal prosecutions to avoid bringing to light potentially highly embarrassing evidence concerning the extent to which this and previous U.S. administrations have embraced and legitimated the very Ikhwan organizations that would be defendants in such cases? (The topic of troubling official conduct like this with respect to understanding and countering shariah and its adherents is discussed at length in Chapter nine of the Team B report.)

In addition, the North American Islamic Trust (and perhaps other unindicted co conspirators) have appealed the court’s ruling on their listing. According to press reports, a panel of the 5th Circuit held a closed-door hearing on the matter in 2010. As of this writing, neither the government’s position nor the judgment of the court of appeals is known.

In Part 14, Team B describes a secret Muslim Brotherhood strategy memorandum that the FBI discovered during a raid on a suspected terrorist house in suburban Virginia.