FBI agents arresting CAIR founding director Ghassan Elashi in 2002.
Five jihadists behind a Texas-based scheme by the Muslim Brotherhood to channel millions of dollars to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas under the guise of a charity have had their convictions upheld by a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled Wednesday against organizers of the Holy Land Foundation, which at one time was the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. It was shut down by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks.
The five convicted Muslims include a member of the founding board of directors of the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ghassan Elashi, who is serving a 65-year sentence.
The Justice Department named CAIR’s national organization, based in Washington, D.C., an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case.
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Former assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, said in a post on National Review Online’s “The Corner” blog that the Obama administration would do well to take note of the Fifth Circuit’s decision.
“Given the lengths to which the current administration goes to portray the Muslim Brotherhood – inside and outside the United States – as a ‘moderate,’ ‘largely secular’ organization,” he said, “it’s nice to see any part of government recognize it for what it is: an Islamist conglomerate dedicated to the destruction of Israel and committed to raising millions of dollars to support accomplishing that end through a jihadist war.”
The defendants were indicted in 2004, and their first trial ended in a mistrial in 2007 but with a partial verdict. They were re-tried and convicted in 2008.
Defense attorneys argued in the appeals that the defendants didn’t get a fair trial because the government used anonymous Israeli witnesses to testify against them. They also raised other constitutional challenges to the evidence.
The court rejected the challenges in its opinion, however, concluding that “no trial is perfect” and pointing to “voluminous evidence” that the foundation was tied to Hamas.
Elashi, a Holy Land Foundation founder, and Shukri Abu Baker, Holy Land’s CEO, both received 65 years for support of Hamas, money laundering and tax fraud.
Also serving prison time for supporting Hamas is Mufid Abdulqader, a key volunteer fundraiser (20 years); Abdulrahman Odeh, who launched Holy Land’s office in New Jersey (15 years); and Mohammad El-Mezain, an imam who ran Holy Land’s office in California (15 years).
The judges’ opinion recounts the creation of Hamas as a Palestinian branch of the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood established the Palestine Committees in the U.S., run by Mousa Abu Marzook, which created the Holy Land Foundation and a number of other entities, including the Islamic Association for Palestine, which established CAIR.
The Fifth Circuit noted that after the Oslo Accords were signed, Muslim Brotherhood operatives connected to Hamas met secretly in Philadelphia to conspire to “derail the peace process.” Documents later recovered by the FBI included an internal memorandum in which the Brotherhood’s American leadership spelled out its plan:
The Ikhwan (the Brotherhood) must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
CAIR is suing a father-and-son team that conducted an undercover probe that came up with 12,000 pages of internal documents confirming CAIR’s role as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the U.S. The findings were published in the WND Books best-selling expose “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America”
Rogues gallery of terror-tied CAIR leaders
Elashi is one of more than a dozen CAIR leaders who have been investigated or convicted in terror-related cases.
Al-Hanooti, who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, formerly helped run a suspected Hamas terror front called LIFE for Relief and Development. Its Michigan offices also were raided in September 2006. In 2004, LIFE’s Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers. Al-Hanooti is related to Sheik Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Muthanna al-Hanooti, wearing traditional headgarb
“Al-Hanooti collected over $6 million for support of Hamas,” according to a 2001 FBI report, and was present with CAIR and Holy Land officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held in 1993 at a Philadelphia hotel. Prosecutors added his name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
Although Al-Hanooti denies supporting Hamas, he has praised Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs” who are “alive in the eyes of Allah.”
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
“Muslim Mafia,” citing co-author’s Sperry’s previous book “Infiltration” as well as terror expert Steven Emerson’s research, reports that Wahhaj, a black convert to Islam, is converting gang members to Islam and holding “jihad camps” for them. With a combination of Islam and Uzis, he has said, the street thugs will be a powerful force for Islam the day America “will crumble.”
Wahhaj was a key speaker at CAIR’s 15th annual fund-raising banquet in Arlington, Va., in 2009.
Jaghlit sent two letters accompanying donations – one for $10,000, the other for $5,000 – from the SAAR Foundation to Sami al-Arian, now a convicted terrorist. In each letter, according to a federal affidavit, “Jaghlit instructed al-Arian not to disclose the contribution publicly or to the media.”
Investigators suspect the funds were intended for Palestinian terrorists via a U.S. front called WISE, which at the time employed an official who personally delivered a satellite phone battery to Osama bin Laden. The same official also worked for Jaghlit’s group.
In addition, Jaghlit donated a total of $37,200 to the Holy Land Foundation, which prosecutors say is a Hamas front. Jaghlit subsequently was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
During the meeting, according to FBI transcripts, Awad was recorded discussing the propaganda effort. He mentions Ghassan Dahduli, whom he worked with at the time at the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Hamas front. Both were IAP officers. Dahduli’s name also was listed in the address book of bin Laden’s personal secretary, Wadi al-Hage, who is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the U.S. embassy bombings. Dahduli, an ethnic-Palestinian like Awad, was deported to Jordan after 9/11 for refusing to cooperate in the terror investigation. (An April 28, 2009, letter from FBI assistant director Richard C. Powers to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. – which singles out CAIR chief Awad for suspicion – explains how the group’s many Hamas connections caused the FBI to sever ties with CAIR.)
Awad’s and Dahduli’s phone numbers are listed in a Muslim Brotherhood document seized by federal investigators revealing “important phone numbers” for the “Palestine Section” of the Brotherhood in America. The court exhibit showed Hamas fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook listed on the same page with Awad.
(Though both Ahmad and Awad were senior leaders of IAP, the Hamas front, neither of their biographical sketches posted on CAIR’s website mentions their IAP past.)
“This country is facing a terrible fate, and the reason for that is because this country stands condemned,” Yusuf warned. “It stands condemned like Europe stood condemned because of what it did. And lest people forget, Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands.”
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