Dallas Morning News reporter Jason Trahan takes readers into the courtroom for part of last month's sentencing of five Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development defendants convicted of funneling $12 million to Hamas.
Founders Shukri Abu Baker and Ghassan Elashi each received 65-year prison terms from U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis. Defendants Abdelrahman Odeh and Mohamed El-Mezain were sentence to 15 years, while Mufid Abdulqader will serve 20 years.
None of the defendants admitted any wrongdoing and Trahan published Elashi's remarks to the court, and those gathered in the courtroom, in their entirety. Then he shows what acting U.S. Attorney Jim Jacks said in response. A key passage:
"I would submit that these individuals were not just Palestinian Americans who want to help people in Palestine and 'We just got our wires crossed and gave money to organizations that someone else said was part of Hamas.' That's not he case. From its inception, this group was set up to raise money for Hamas. It could not collect taxes. This was their life blood."
Judge Solis agreed, repeating that HLF's founding purpose was to support Hamas. The defendants all have filed notices of their intent to appeal their convictions.