On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by Mousa Abu Marzook, Hamas' Deputy political bureau chief in Damascus and specially designated global terrorist (pdf, see page 4). This just a few weeks after Ahmed Yousef, the senior political advisor to Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, had op-eds in both the Washington Post and New York Times published on the same day.
The Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, shed some light on the process of how op-eds penned by high-ranking Hamas operatives end up on the editorial pages of major American newspapers. Commenting on the confusion between the Post and the Times over the publishing of two competing Yousef pieces, Howell reported:
(Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred) Hiatt said, "Our piece came to us through a representative of Mr. Yousef [in the United States] with whom we'd dealt before. He assured us afterward that he did not realize a separate piece was in the works." (New York Times op-ed Editor David) Shipley's source was in London and assured him of the same thing. (emphasis added)
It is hardly surprising that Yousef, or Marzook for that matter, would have a representative in America. Both Hamas leaders spent a significant amount of time living in the United States, developing an extensive infrastructure of front groups for the terrorist organization.
It is notable that, from the Post's perspective, the controversy was not the publishing of propaganda from a designated foreign terrorist organization, but rather that its major competitor had published a similar op-ed from the same author that very day.
But while certain sectors of the American media are bending over backwards to provide a platform for terrorist leaders to promote their agenda, the combined efforts of federal law enforcement and private lawsuits are slowly rolling up Hamas' American network, engineered by Marzook, Yousef and others.
Just yesterday their former colleague, Muhammed Salah, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for obstruction of justice. Salah's conviction resulted from his lying about his Hamas connections in a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of David Boim, an American teenager murdered by Hamas terrorists in 1996. While Salah was acquitted on the racketeering charge and did not receive the stiffest penalty possible, his trial, conviction and sentence demonstrate that federal law enforcement officials are very serious about prosecuting terrorism financing cases. Salah's co-defendant, Abdelhaleem al-Ashqar, is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Further, jury selection is slated to begin next Monday in the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest terrorist financing case in U.S. history.
The recent spate of op-eds by Hamas leaders in American newspapers, though, presents two potential questions for federal prosecutors and the family members of the victims of Hamas terrorism: just who exactly is Ahmed Yousef's representative in the United States? And do Marzook and Haniyeh have U.S.-based representatives facilitating the publication of their op-eds?