A former British MP accused of providing aid to a Palestinian terrorist organization is headlining an upcoming fundraiser in Houston.
George Galloway has been announced as the main attraction at a Memorial Day weekend event benefiting the Muslim Legal Fund of America. The talk and dinner are scheduled to take place Sunday, May 30, at the Crowne Plaza-River Oaks, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The MLFA and Galloway share connections through organizations and individuals involved in alleged pro-Hamas and anti-Israel activism. The MLFA also is suspected of engaging in tactics that can hinder states' abilities to combat terrorism, according to a leading U.S. counter-terrorism expert.
Galloway & HamasGalloway is a vocal opponent of the State of Israel. He is founder of Viva Palestina, a registered UK charity established in January 2009 that aims to "break the crippling siege of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid," via international convoy, to Palestinians.
Yet, Galloway said of Viva Palestina's inaugural convoy to Gaza in March 2009, "This is not charity. This is politics."
Investigations into Viva Palestina's operations similarly indicate that the organization provides financial, material and political support to Hamas – a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism has published a series of reports indicating that Viva Palestina has delivered millions of dollars in donated cash and supplies directly to Hamas leaders and indirectly to Hamas via front charities and NGOs. IPT provides dates, dollar amounts, names and background data. (These reports are accessible at investigativeproject.org, keywords "Viva Palestina" and "George Galloway.")
Canada, in March 2009, banned Galloway from entering the country on national security grounds, according to statements given by Canadian border security officials. A spokesman for Canada's immigration minister said that the decision was made to protect Canadians from people who fund, support or engage in terrorism, local media reported.
Egypt has banned the ex-British parliamentarian from entering its country on more than one occasion. On Jan. 8, 2010, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry declared Galloway "persona non grata."
Over the past year, members of Congress, the Anti-Defamation League and others have called for Justice Department investigations into Viva Palestina's links to Hamas. The requests were made after Galloway and Viva Palestina USA members reportedly raised funds on U.S. college campuses in support of their activities – actions that would appear to violate U.S. counter-terrorism laws and executive orders.
"Clearly, people and organizations in the United States cannot be allowed to solicit funds for foreign terrorist organizations," Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in December 2009.
Sherman expressed similar written concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Michael Drake, whose campus saw a lucrative Galloway visit on May 21, 2009, and has been a hotbed of well-documented jihadist support over the past several years.
Galloway arrived on the UK's national political scene as a Labour MP, but was expelled from the party in 2003 for his outspoken criticism of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Iraq War. Three years later, in an interview with GQ magazine, Galloway said a suicide bomber would be "morally justified" if s/he were to kill Blair.
The former MP also has drawn controversy and investigation for his reportedly friendly relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime and the corrupt United Nations Oil-For-Food program. He also is a strong backer of Interpal, a British charity that has been banned in the United States since 2003 for its connection to a Saudi-based charity (Union for Good) that the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a terrorist entity that supports Hamas.
In addition to Hamas, Galloway publicly has glorified the Lebanese-based terrorist organization, Hezbollah, and its leadership. Hezbollah, too, seeks Israel's destruction and was responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist organization prior to the al-Qaeda 9/11 attacks.
Galloway has made a couple of trips to Houston over the past year in support of Viva Palestina. These visits have been sponsored by groups like the Palestinian American Cultural Center and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. The May 30 appearance will be Galloway's first in Houston since losing his seat in the British Parliament back on May 6.
MLFA & lawfareGalloway is returning to Houston to raise support for an organization that has defended other alleged and proven supporters of Hamas.
The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, "committed to defend, protect and strengthen the civil and legal rights of American Islamic institutions and Muslim individuals in the United States of America."
Yet, according to Investigative Project on Terrorism documentation, the MLFA backed the Holy Land Foundation as the latter became subject of the largest terrorism-financing prosecution in U.S. history.
Based near Dallas, HLF (formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund) was the largest Islamic charity in the United States. In 2008, the foundation and five of its founders were found guilty of providing more than $12 million in support of Hamas.
The HLF trial had other serious repercussions, as groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the case. As a result, the FBI severed ties with CAIR.
According to Steve Emerson, IPT's executive director, it can be argued that the Muslim Legal Fund engages in a tactic known as "lawfare."
A special commission on the subject, the Lawfare Project, defines lawfare as "the exploitation of real, perceived, or even orchestrated incidents of law-of-war violations . . . employed as an unconventional means of confronting 'a superior military power.' " The tactic also can include "inhibit[ing] the right and ability of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism."
"The Muslim Legal Fund defends groups that defend terrorists, and has worked on scores of cases involving airline profiling, hate crimes (i.e., Muslims 'insulted' or detained after 9/11), religious discrimination cases and immigration cases, among others," Emerson explained to the JH-V.
IPT cites the MLFA's work on the "six imams case" as an example of the legal fund's use of lawfare. The MLFA is assisting six Muslim clerics in taking legal action against US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission allegedly for violating the men's civil rights. On Nov. 20, 2006, six imams were removed from a US Airways flight after crewmembers and passengers became alarmed by what was perceived to be suspicious behavior from the six men.
Past participants in Galloway's Viva Palestina convoys, such as Cynthia McKinney, also are public endorsers of the MLFA.
McKinney is an ex-Georgia congresswoman who garnered national attention after assaulting a Capitol Hill police officer in March 2006. In July 2009, she joined a Viva Palestina convoy that attempted to "break the Israeli siege of Gaza." She spent nearly a week in an Israeli immigration detention center after allegedly violating international maritime law and refusing to sign her deportation papers.
At an Aug. 14, 2009, presentation and fundraiser in Houston, McKinney said she had been "kidnapped" by Israel, but admitted that the mission had been a publicity stunt. She expressed her support of Hamas leaders, and spent a significant portion of the talk alleging that Jews "control" the United States.
The MLFA has published endorsements from other alleged apologists and activists for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and their front groups. According to IPT research, these include:
Siraj Wahaj, a possible unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case; Nihad Awad, an official with the Islamic Association of Palestine, a Hamas front group; Maher Hathout, an official with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which co-sponsored a rally in New York this year that called for the destruction of Israel; and John Esposito, an Islamic studies professor at Georgetown University who has defended the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups.
The promotional flier for Galloway's MLFA appearance reads: "Everyone welcome."