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CAIR leader convicted on terror charges
Posted By Art Moore On 04/14/2005 @ 3:00 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
FBI agents arrest Ghassan Elashi and brothers in 2002.
A founder of the Texas chapter of a highly influential U.S. Islamic lobby group was found guilty of supporting terrorism.
Ghassan Elashi, along with two brothers, was convicted in Dallas yesterday of channeling funds to a high-ranking official of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook.
Elashi was a board member of the Texas chapter of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American Islamic Relations — the third CAIR figure to be convicted on federal terrorism charges since 9-11.
CAIR is a spin-off of the Richardson, Texas-based Islamic Association For Palestine, or IAP, which was founded by Marzook.
Former FBI counterterrorism chief Oliver Revell has called the IAF “a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants.”
Prosecutors said Ghassan Elashi, with brothers Bayan and Basman, tried to hide a $250,000 investment by Marzook in their Richardson, Texas, computer company, then funneled payments to Marzook in return.
Marzook, deputy chief of Hamas’ political bureau in Syria, founded the IAP in 1991. At its conferences in the U.S., the IAP hosted leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Marzook was deported in 1997.
Ghassan Elashi, Bayan Elashi and their company were found guilty of all 21 federal counts: conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist, the Associated Press reported.
The AP did not mention Ghassan Elashi’s role with CAIR, however.
Each count carries a maximum 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 1.
Facing the same 21 counts, Basman Elashi was convicted of three counts of conspiracy but acquitted of the other charges.
Ghassan Elashi did not comment on the conviction, but lawyer Tim Evans said, according to the AP, “It’s hard times for people of Middle Eastern descent.”
Michael P. Gibson, vowing an appeal, said, “There is no evidence that money ever funded any terrorism. This is not a terrorism case, it’s a financial crimes case.”
When the Elashis were indicted in 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called them “terrorist money men.”
It’s not the first conviction for Ghassan Elashi.
As chairman of the Holy Land Foundation charity in Dallas, Elashi was convicted last year of making illegal technology shipments to two countries on the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring states, Libya and Syria. Four brothers, including Bayan and Basman, also were convicted.
Other CAIR figures convicted since 9-11 are Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, a former communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, and Bassem Khafagi, former director of community relations.
Royer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges he trained in Virginia for holy war against the United States and sent several members to Pakistan to join Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri terrorist group with reported ties to al-Qaida.
In a plea bargain, Royer claimed he never intended to hurt anyone but admitted he organized the holy warriors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
After his arrest, Royer sought legal counsel from Hamas lawyer Stanley Cohen, who said after 9-11 he would consider serving as a defense lawyer for Osama bin Laden if the al-Qaida leader were captured.
Khafagi was arrested in January 2003 while serving with CAIR and convicted on fraud and terrorism charges.
Current CAIR leaders also have made statements in support of Hamas and the domination of the U.S. by Islam.
As WorldNetDaily reported, CAIR’s chairman of the board, Omar Ahmad, was cited by a California newspaper in 1998 declaring the Quran should be America’s highest authority.
He also was reported to have said Islam is not in America to be equal to any other religion but to be dominant.
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