Either the DOJ screwed up an obvious connection, or the jury is brain dead.
This trial was about money laundering and the funding of terrorism, the terrorist group Hamas. The government spent a long time preparing for it. It began the investigation in 1993. So when it ended today in a mistrial for five of the six defendants – and one of those defendants is the Holy Land Foundation – it has been a very anticlimatic thing as far the government is concerned. Right now, the Islamic community is elated. They are happy because this trial will have to go to the jury again.
CAIR and other terrorist fronts are doing backflips:
Abdulrahman Odeh, head of Holy Land’s New Jersey office, personally gave money to the family of the Hamas master bombmaker credited with developing the suicide belt. The case included evidence, mostly wiretapped phone calls and videos of often fiery U.S. fundraising rallies, showing that some of the defendants were virulently anti-semitic. And jurors were shown scenes of violence — none, however, attributed directly to the actions of the defendants, all of whom are of Palestinian descent.
So, it’s apparently okay for these Islamic thugs to finance the terrorist operations but not be considered as directly involved. Fuckin’ amazing.
The government’s evidence in the case was voluminous, and seemed to show at times that the defendants were not truthful about their feelings for Hamas and some of its associates. For example, the former CEO of Holy Land, Shukri Abu Baker, said that “war is deception” in a bugged meeting with Holy Land associates and other men linked to Hamas, speaking about how the charity needed to downplay its ties to keep operating in the cash-rich U.S. But much of the government’s evidence, peppered with a blizzard of Arabic names with various spellings, was delivered to jurors through often dry testimony of federal agents, who seldom were allowed to expand on the context of the hundreds of exhibits on which the prosecutors were querying them. In the end, it was up to jurors, chosen specifically because they had virtually no prior knowledge of the case or of Middle Eastern politics in general, to piece the government’s massive international jigsaw puzzle together. The found that after 19 days of deliberations, they could not.
So what we have here are federal agents forbidden to fully explain the evidence on the stand combined with a jury totally and unbelievably, in the aftermath of 9/11, ignorant of terrorism and its ramifications.
…….The government’s evidence in the Holy Land case was voluminous. It featured about 1000 exhibits, including banking records, internal memos and propaganda videos. What became the trial evidence was culled from nearly 600 total boxes of raw materials taken not only from the charity’s Richardson offices, but also from un-indicted co conspirators. Jurors also had access to hundreds of wiretapped conversation transcripts, mostly translated from Arabic.
The volume of evidence alone should have been sufficient for a guilty verdict, but it’s not surprising given the 12 simps on the jury and the half-assed prosecution efforts on the part of the Justice Department, not just in this case, but others as well:
A jury acquitted Chicago businessman Muhammad Salah in February of accusations of being a “bag man” who shuttled funds for guns and other terrorist activities for Hamas, the militant Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip.
But Salah was found guilty of obstruction of justice for lying under oath when he was sued, along with Hamas and others, by the parents of a US student killed in an attack in Israel for which Hamas claimed responsibility.
…a former Florida professor accused of helping lead a terrorist group that has carried out suicide bombings against Israel was acquitted on nearly half the charges against him Tuesday, and the jury deadlocked on the rest.
The case against Sami Al-Arian, 47, had been seen as one of the biggest courtroom tests yet of the Patriot Act’s expanded search-and-surveillance powers.
After a five-month trial and 13 days of deliberations, the jury acquitted Al-Arian of eight of the 17 counts against him, including a key charge of conspiring to maim and murder people overseas. The jurors deadlocked on the others, including charges he aided terrorists. Co-defendants Sameeh Hammoudeh and Ghassan Zayed Ballut were acquitted of all charges against them. Another, Hatem Naji Fariz, was found not guilty of 24 counts and jurors deadlocked on the remaining eight.
….Al-Arian, 47, is considered one of the most important terrorist figures to be brought to trial in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.
A male juror, who declined to give his name, said he didn’t see the case as a First Amendment issue as defense attorneys had claimed. He said it just came down to lack of proof.
“I didn’t see the evidence,” he said.
…..One juror said in a note to the judge that she was being pressured by other jurors to change her vote and could not continue to deliberate. “My nerves and my conscience are being whipped into submission,” the juror said in the note.
……The federal jury heard from 80 government witnesses and listening to often-plodding testimony about faxes and wiretapped phone calls during a trial that lasted more than five months.
The government alleged that the defendants were part of a Tampa terrorist cell that took the lead in determining the structure and goals of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the State Department has listed as a terrorist group.
Prosecutors said Al-Arian and other members of the terrorist organization used the University of South Florida to give them cover as teachers and students, and held meetings under the guise of academic conferences.
All that overwhelming evidence pounded into the little skulls of the jury was just too confusing for them.
……But except for opening and closing arguments, jurors got little help understanding what nuggets of evidence were key to the case and what played more of a supporting role. As one prosecutor Nathan Garrett admitted during his closing arguments: “You asked for a drink of water, and we turned on the fire hose.”
The Holy Land outcome may also highlight the difficulties government prosecutors have in proving that material support can sometimes come in the form of humanitarian aid to a terrorist group — and that this is just as much a threat as directly sponsoring violence. Prosecutors recognized early on that convincing jurors that money for soccer balls, backpacks and food was really a tool for terrorism would be difficult. This is why they asked all prospective jurors, before they had heard any evidence, whether they could convict the defendants of supporting terrorism if that support was in the form of humanitarian aid.
…….Originally, terrorism support laws passed in the mid-1990s required that the person sending the money overseas knew it would be used to support a violent act, said Robert M.Chesney, a Wake Forest University law professor who researches terrorism financing trials. Defense attorneys were able to argue that their clients gave money thinking it would benefit a hospital or some legitimate humanitarian aid project, he said. The law later was tweaked to make it illegal to send a terrorist group money for any reason, he said. “The government’s view is that, and I agree, either way you’re helping Hamas,” he said. “Money is fungible, and if your 10 bucks is spent on an orphanage, that frees up other money they can use on bombs. Doing anything that make Hamas more popular is not in our best interest.”
None of the defendants are accused of committing or directly sponsoring any violent acts. The government contends that they sent more than $12 million to Palestinian charity committees that they knew to be controlled by Hamas, which has targeted Israeli civilians for more than a decade. The indictment alleges that the Holy Land foundation sponsored fundraising events in which speakers performed skits and songs that advocated the destruction of Israel and glorified the killing of Jewish people. According to prosecutors, it targeted families of “martyrs” for financial aid. Defense attorneys say their clients ran a legitimate charity and had no terrorist ties. The most serious charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. It is unclear if the government will retry the defendants on those charges where there was no unanimous verdict. The Holy Land Foundation had been the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. until it was shut down by President Bush. The case was the biggest terror finance trial in U.S. history.
Geez, with all that money Hamas receives for ‘charity’ how in the hell do they get the funds to manufacture bombs?