FBI agents arrest Ghassan Elashi and brothers in 2002.
Two American citizens with ties to a major U.S. Islamic civil rights group faced judgment in court today for aiding the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, with one sentenced to seven years prison and the other pleading guilty.
Ghassan Elashi, a founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and a member of the founding board of directors of the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for financial ties to a high-ranking terrorist and for making illegal computer exports to countries that back terrorism.
Meanwhile, an Atlanta imam, Mohamed Shorbagi, pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hamas.
A Justice Department statement said Shorbagi, 42, of Rome, Ga., “provided the support through donations to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development knowing that some or all of the money was in fact destined for Hamas.”
Hamas, which won a parliamentary majority in the Palestinian territories in January, was designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
“This case illustrates that people who illegally support foreign terrorist organizations may be found anywhere in the United States, even in quiet and pleasant places like Rome, Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias in a statement.
The Holy Land Foundation is tied to CAIR through the relief group’s founder, Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, also was founded by Marzook, who was deported by the U.S. to Jordan in 1997.
CAIR casts itself as the leading Islamic civil rights group in the U.S., but other associated figures convicted of terrorism-related charges since 9-11 include 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 founder 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.
At a youth session of the Islamic Association for Palestine’s annual convention in Chicago in 1999, Ahmad praised suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam,” according to a transcript provided by terror expert Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project.
“Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide,” Ahmad asserted. “They kill themselves for Islam.”
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