Who Knew? I mean don’t you hate when you find out through a third party? At the Holy Land Foundation Trial today, Defendant Ghassan Elashi, former Holy Land Chairman and founder of the Texas chapter of CAIR announced that the trial was just an extension of the the Zionist conspiracy. I read the Zionist lobby news briefs (called Don’t Run With Scissors) every day and NOTHING… NO Mention of any connection between this trial and the Pro Israel Lobby…I guess MOTs are always the last to find out.
Judge threatens to bar Holy Land defendant By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News [email protected] U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish threatened to bar one of the Holy Land trial defendants from the courtroom Monday after he shouted in frustration as the courtroom was clearing for a midmorning break. It wasn’t immediately clear what Ghassan Elashi, the Holy Land Foundation’s former board chairman, said after the judge had left and the jury was exiting, but he yelled and pointed as court security guards escorted him away. Judge Fish addressed the outburst after jurors left the courtroom for their lunch break. “It was reported to me that [Mr. Elashi said] ‘This trial is an extension of a Zionist conspiracy,’ or something to that effect,” said Judge Fish, who was not present when the outburst occurred. “We can’t have outbursts like that that will disrupt the trial.” He said federal law allows defendants to sit in on their own trials, but “it can be waived” if there are disruptions. Reporters are barred by judge’s order from talking to attorneys or defendants in the case. At the time of the outburst, the courtroom was cleared of spectators as an Israeli government agent known by the pseudonym “Avi” was being cross-examined. Khalil Meek, president of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, spoke to the defendants after Mr. Elashi’s outburst. He said that they told him that what triggered the incident was the judge’s decision not to allow into evidence a document that showed the Israeli government appeared to sanction some of the work by one of the Palestinian charity committees Holy Land is accused of illegally funding. Mr. Meek said Mr. Elashi’s outburst was a release of weeks of built-up frustration with Judge Fish’s repeated decisions to allow jurors to see government evidence that the defense perceives as irrelevant, too old or misleading. “The jury has been allowed to watch the government’s inflammatory videos” showing militant Hamas rallies found at the Palestinian charity committees, Mr. Meek said, but has not been allowed to hear evidence of the aid work Holy Land performed. “The defense has had doors closed in its face,” he said. During more than a month of testimony, government prosecutors have shown jurors wiretap transcripts and hundreds of documents hoping to show that the five Holy Land organizers supported the militant ideas of Hamas, which the U.S. outlawed in 1995. The government contends that Holy Land broke U.S. law by sending millions of dollars to charity committees the government says are controlled by Hamas. The defense has denied Holy Land or its former organizers supported Hamas, or ran anything other than the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., until it was shut down in 2001 on suspicion that it supported terrorism. Also Online The allegation: The federal government says Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation and seven organizers illegally sent at least $12 million overseas to the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The U.S. declared Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995. On trial: Ghassan Elashi, former Holy Land board chairman; Shukri Abu Baker, former Holy Land CEO; Mohammad El-Mezain, the foundation’s original chairman who became director of endowments; Mufid Abdulqader, a top fundraiser and a former city of Dallas public works supervisor; and Abdulrahman Odeh, Holy Land’s New Jersey representative. Two others are fugitives. Possible sentence: If prosecutors convince jurors that death resulted from the defendants’ support of Hamas, the defendants could face up to life in prison. Also, on Monday afternoon Dallas Morning News reporter Steve McGonigle testified about a 1999 trip he made to Israel and Palestinian territories for an interview with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’ founder and spiritual leader. In stories published in 2000, Mr. McGonigle quoted Mr. Yassin denying ties to the Holy Land Foundation. He also reported that Holy Land gave money to the family of a martyred Hamas military commander, Yehiya Ayyash, who was responsible for carrying out bombings of dozens of civilians. Since he began writing about Holy Land and its ties beginning in 1996, his research has linked the group to numerous Hamas leaders, including many whose names have come up during recent testimony. Prosecutors on Monday played an audiotape of an intercepted telephone conversation by defendants Shukri Abu Baker, former Holy Land CEO, Mr. Elashi and others discussing how the sheik allegedly “played dumb” with Mr. McGonigle about knowing Holy Land and its work. They also called Mr. McGonigle a “snake” and talked about keeping him from having access to families of Hamas martyrs who have received Holy Land aid, and steering him toward other families who have received aid. On cross-examination, Mr. McGonigle told defense attorneys about the dire poverty he witnessed among Palestinians in his nearly two-week trip to the region.