Akram Musa Abdallah was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday for lying to the FBI about his fundraising activities with HLF. The sentencing comes almost a year after Abdallah's May 2009 plea agreement in which he admitted:
"I represented to the FBI agents that I was not involved in fund raising activities for the HLF. When in fact, between approximately 1994 and 1997, I was involved in numerous fund raising activities, including collecting donations, organizing, facilitating and coordinating fund raising events on behalf of the HLF in Phoenix metropolitan area."
At the time of his 2007 interview, the government was trying to gather evidence for the upcoming HLF Hamas financing trial. In 2008, HLF and five of its officials were found guilty of illegally funneling money to Hamas. Arizona District Court Judge Neil Wake chose the lowest possible prison term specified in Abdallah's plea agreement because he did not believe that the lie hurt the government's case against HLF, even calling it "rather minor."
Judge Wake also questioned the government's case against Abdallah, saying that "the government threatened him with prosecution if he did not change his story." Barry Jonas, a federal prosecutor in the HLF case, pointed out that Abdullah still knowingly committed a federal crime. "No matter how much he insisted he was telling the truth, it wasn't true," said Jonas. "This did involve a terrorism matter," he added.