Holy Land Foundation Defendants Found Guilty
In one of the most significant victories in the courtroom over terrorism to date, a Dallas jury has found 5 members of the Holy Land Foundation guilty of financially supporting Hamas.
This was the second trial for the Foundation and its leaders following a mistrial last year. Prosecutors attributed the problem there to the case just being too complex and hard to follow. Since then, they streamlined the charges, concentrating on showing how the charity raised money that went directly into the coffers of Hamas to help support its terrorist activities.
Peter Margulies, an expert on terrorism financing cases summed up HLF activities this way; "The government showed in a streamlined case that where special assistance to the families of terrorists is concerned, cash is the moral equivalent of a car bomb."
The Dallas Morning News has covered this story since the beginning (excellent background and summary of the case can be found here ):
The verdicts by a Dallas federal jury are a significant victory for the Justice Department, which streamlined its case after a mistrial last year and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex evidence presented in the massive case.
Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.
The verdicts are a major triumph for the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing have been troubled. Two other similar high-profile prosecutions targeting supporters of Palestinian militants have ended in acquittals, deadlocked juries or convictions on lesser charges.
"Today's verdicts are important milestones in America's efforts against financiers of terrorism," Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a prepared statement.
The jury also decided that HLF must forfeit $12.4 million in the case due to several guilty verdicts for money laundering.
The conspiracy was overseen by The Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist group that originated in Egypt and has since spread throughout the world, piggybacking their financing operations on the backs of legitimate Muslim charities. In this case, the charity organizers knew full well where the money was going and who was delivering it. This thanks to information handed over by the Israelis that clearly showed Hamas as the beneficiary of HLF funds.
What next? There are 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the case - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It remains to be seen if any more indictments will be handed down as a result of these guilty verdicts. Terrorism financing cases are enormously complex and hard to prosecute thanks to the lengths the terrorists go in trying to hide their financing.
But the HLF verdicts prove it can be done. So expect additional indictments to flow from this case.