Federal jury convicts Islamic charity accused of financing terrorism

[JURIST] A jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Monday convicted [DOJ press release] the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) [ADL backgrounder; LOC archived website; case materials] and five of its officials [Dallas Morning News profiles and verdicts] on a total of 108 counts [superseding indictment, PDF] including conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to impede and impair the IRS, and filing false tax returns. The initial case against the group and its five officials ended in a mistrial [JURIST report] in October 2007 after three jurors insisted that the verdicts of acquittal read by the court were incorrect. Government officials limited the charges and witnesses [NYT report] against the defendants for retrial and maintained that HLF and its members raised about $12.4 million in support of terrorist groups. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Patrick Rowan said of the guilty verdicts:

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 individual defendants, who plan to appeal, could be sentenced to between 15 years and life in prison.

Once the largest Muslim charity in the US, HLF was shut down in 2001 by federal prosecutors who accused it of financing international terrorism by supporting the Palestinian group Hamas [BBC backgrounder]. It and five of its leaders were subsequently charged [JURIST report; original indictment, PDF] in 2004 on 42 counts of conspiracy, providing support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to deal in the property of a terrorist, dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist, money laundering, conspiracy to impede an investigation by the IRS, and filing false tax returns. The defense has argued that the charity's funds were used only to help Palestinians in need [JURIST report], while the prosecution maintains that the charity was in place only to funnel money used to support Hamas through Palestinian schools and charities.


 

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