Well next week the Defense tries to refute the tower of evidence presented by the Prosecution in the Holy Land Hamas Friend of CAIR Terror Trial. Among the projected witnesses are Frank Anderson who left ran the Middle East section of the CIA until eleven years ago. Anderson has written how even before there were official contacts between the US and the PA, his arm of the CIA was in bed with Arafat and the PLO. Anderson is a consultant and not a big fan of the the War in Iraq
Another expected witness is former Texas Congressman John Bryant from Dallas. It was Bryant in 1991, suggested withholding aid from Israel unless she froze all construction in the settlements. Since his time in congress Bryant has been a paid agent of the HLF. He has blamed Israel for the cotroversy over the Holy Land Foundation: “They were under constant rhetorical assault. It continued year after year. I went up there and talked with the agencies. I said, ‘This is a transparent operation. The Israelis know what they are doing. Why don’t you tell us how you would like this organization to operate?’ ” Bryant recalls.Stay tuned as more events in this trial are sure to come fast and furious.
Government rests in Holy Land Foundation trial
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
The government rested its case Thursday in the nation’s largest terrorism financing trial after jurors heard six weeks of testimony on more than 700 pieces of evidence. The former Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers are accused of sending millions of dollars overseas to support Hamas, a banned terrorist organization. The defense will wait until after the long Labor Day weekend before calling its first witnesses. Defense attorneys have long argued that their clients were concerned only with raising money for devastated Palestinian families. They deny their clients had any ties to Hamas. The government has said the foundation and its organizers not only raised money for Hamas, but directed aid to families of suicide bombers and prisoners.Final witness
During testimony Thursday, defense attorney Linda Moreno got the government’s last witness, FBI Special Agent Lara Burns, to acknowledge that not all “martyrs” who received Holy Land aid were terrorists. Ms. Moreno showed jurors a video of people at Holy Land’s Gaza office delivering food to the family of an ambulance driver who had been killed in a shootout between Israeli and Palestinian forces. He was classified as a martyr in Holy Land paperwork because he was on his way to help a child who had been wounded when he was killed. Ms. Moreno on Thursday also hammered home the defense’s message that few of Holy Land’s associates are on U.S. government terrorist lists, even though prosecutors have put witnesses on the stand who have said they are part of Hamas. She questioned Agent Burns about a list of people the government had connected to Hamas, and every time the agent testified that one was not actually on designated terrorist lists, she scratched the name off using a black marker. After a few minutes of testimony, all but a handful of names were blacked out. Over the past six weeks, the defense has objected to most of the documents, videos and secretly recorded phone calls entered into evidence by the government. The defense says much of the evidence is inflammatory, is prejudicial and largely dealt with Holy Land’s activities before Hamas’ designation as a terrorist group in 1995. Since opening arguments on July 24, prosecutors have put on the stand 10 of about 40 people on their witness lists. More could take the stand later in the trial, however, to respond to the defense’s case. The defense has named about 30 possible witnesses, but it is unknown how many they plan to have testify. The judge has barred all attorneys in the case from talking publicly about the case. Among the key points of the government’s case: • Documents have shown that Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, planned in the early ’90s to set up a network of U.S. organizations to spread a militant Islamist message and raise money for Hamas. The Holy Land Foundation evolved into its chief fundraising arm, according to government witnesses. • Former Holy Land CEO Shukri Abu Baker said that “war is deception,” according to a wiretap of a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia between Holy Land organizers and what the government says are Hamas sympathizers. In that conversation, he was speaking about playing down Hamas ties to keep raising money in the U.S., according to FBI testimony. • FBI agents testified that several overseas clerics who were flown to the U.S. by Holy Land to headline fundraisers were Hamas activists. At one of these fundraisers, a Holy Land defendant pretended to kill an “Israeli” during a skit. • An FBI agent testified that several Holy Land defendants have family members who are Hamas leaders, including the organization’s No. 2 political chief, Mousa Abu Marzook, who is married to a cousin of defendant Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former board chairman. Mr. Marzook has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. • An Israeli government agent testified that the Palestinian charity committees to which Holy Land sent millions of dollars were staffed with well-known Hamas activists. The Israeli military found key chains, videos and posters that praised suicide bombers inside the committees’ offices. •Abdulrahman Odeh, Holy Land’s New Jersey representative, referred to suicide bombings as “beautiful operations” in a wiretapped phone call. An FBI agent testified that Mr. Odeh also sent money to the family of notorious Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash after he was blown up by a booby-trapped cellphone in 1996. Known as “the engineer,” Mr. Ayyash is the man credited with developing the suicide belts worn by martyrs.Not called to testify
Jurors did not hear from a couple of the government’s more anticipated witnesses, including Mohamed Shorbagi and Abdul Rahman Alamoudi. Both are serving terrorism-related prison terms and were expected to tell jurors about Holy Land’s connection to Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood members spawned the current jihadist movement in the 1920s in Egypt. Mr. Shorbagi, Holy Land’s former representative in Georgia, pleaded guilty last year to providing support to Hamas through Holy Land, and this year was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Mr. Alamoudi, a high-profile Muslim advocate who was an adviser to former President Bill Clinton, is serving a 23-year prison sentence for doing business with Libya, a state-sponsor of terrorism, and participating in a plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. To counter the mountain of government evidence, the defense will put on experts, associates and family members to show that Holy Land organizers were not militant and sought only to raise money to help families affected by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among those witnesses is attorney and former Congressman John Bryant, who was a public advocate for the foundation after it came under public scrutiny in the ’90s. Another is the former head of the CIA’s Near East Division, Frank Anderson. According to court documents, Mr. Anderson “will testify that [Holy Land’s] activities in providing humanitarian support in Palestine, contrary to government allegations, did not constitute reward for terrorism” or recruitment for Hamas.