Today the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of five former officials of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) accused of illegally routing more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
In November 2008, a federal jury convicted the five HLF officials on all counts, including conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The officials subsequently received long prison terms ranging from 15 to 65 years, concluding the largest terror financing case prosecuted in the United States since the 9/11 attacks.
Evidence presented at the trial showed the HLF was part of a broad Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy in the United States called the Palestine Committee that sought to propagate the goals of Hamas in the U.S. with "media, money, and men." Prosecution exhibits further detailed the existence of a secret Hamas-support network in the U.S. created by the Muslim Brotherhood. A Brotherhood memorandum from 1991 described the group's goal in America, calling for a "civilization-jihad process" and a "grand jihad" that aimed at "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within … so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
The 170-page opinion issued by a three-judge panel reiterates that after the creation of Hamas in 1987, the Muslim Brotherhood directed its worldwide chapters to establish "Palestine Committees" to promote Hamas objectives from abroad. The Palestine Committee in the U.S. led by Mousa Abu Marzook, the leader of Hamas's political wing in the 1990s, created the Holy Land Foundation and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). The IAP is the progenitor of the present-day Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim Brotherhood group in the U.S. that was also named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
The opinion also referenced a 1993 meeting of Hamas members and supporters in Philadelphia to "derail" the then-recently concluded Oslo Peace accords. The meeting was characterized by "an aura of deception and an intent to hide the connection to Hamas." Given the sensitive nature of the conversation, participants agreed not to discuss Hamas by name. Instead, they chose to reference Hamas as "Samah," Hamas spelled backwards.
In appeals filed last October, the five defendants asked the Fifth Circuit appeals court to overturn the convictions. The defendants argued against the use of anonymous testimony by Israeli intelligence and military witnesses and evidence seized from Palestinian Authority offices during an Israeli raid, claiming it was biased, and unfairly tilted the verdict against them.
In conclusion, the ruling dismissed the appeals and affirmed the convictions of the five defendants.
"While no trial is perfect, this one included, we conclude from our review of the record, briefs, and oral argument, that the defendants were fairly convicted," the ruling said. For more court documents in this case, click here.