ALAN COLMES: In a major setback for the U.S. government, a Texas judge declared a mistrial today for five of the six defendants in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism funding trial. Federal prosecutors were trying to the,
several former leaders of a Muslim charity group to the – they were trying to tie them to the terrorist organization HAMAS. After three not guilty verdicts that prompted protests from members of the jury, Judge Joe Fish rendered his unusual decision.
With us now for reaction, terrorism analyst Steve Emerson. Steve, I know you've been very critical of this group. But they couldn't get a conviction. They couldn't prove it in court. We have an acquittal, an undecided. No convictions in this case.
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, Alan, let's get the story straight. First of all, what happened was that when the jury foreman said that they were all acquitted or found not guilty, then the judge polled the jurors and found out that some actually said that they were guilty. So on five of the six defendants there's a mistrial. That means there's going to be a redo entirely. So they were not acquitted, Alan. And on the sixth one, the number one count, conspiracy to carry out terrorism, still stands. Now, the redo – I don't know when it'll happen, but it's not a victory for the Islamic militants.
COLMES: Well, let me just correct you, Steve, because there were acquittals here. To say there were no acquittals is inaccurate. The charity fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader was acquitted on all counts. Two others, the former chairman and the group's New Jersey representative were acquitted on most counts. So there were those acquittals that took place.
EMERSON: You're absolutely wrong, Alan.
COLMES: That's what happened, Steve.
EMERSON: Alan, the government ruled that five of the six defendants, there was a mistrial. They will be retried in their entirety. I don't know where you're reading from. You're reading –
COLMES: I'm reading from The New York Times, the Associated Press –
reported exactly what I just said.
EMERSON: You're reading, Alan, on five, read my lips. Five of the six –
COLMES: Talk slowly so I'm able to do that.
EMERSON: Alan, read my lips. Five of the six will have a retrial, OK, on all the charges, if the government brings all the charges. But they were not acquitted on them. That's number one.
COLMES: Well, you're disagreeing with the Associated Press –
EMERSON: The government ruled a mistrial.
COLMES: …and The New York Times as they reported it, Steve.
EMERSON: Listen, let's be honest. The government ruled a mistrial.
They will be retried. And the government will have an opportunity to make its case again, probably refined.
COLMES: All right, well you disagree on what's been reported in the mainstream press.
EMERSON: Alan, you know what? I don't want to engage in further argument, because you're wasting a lot of valuable time. But you've got it wrong.
COLMES: First of all, don't insult me, Steve. The fact is I'm reporting to you what the Associated Press and The New York Times reported.
EMERSON: I'm sorry, Alan, what can I tell you?
COLMES: Because you have a different view, that's fine. But don't tell me I'm wasting time on my own show when we invite you on as a guest.
EMERSON: Alan, the judge ruled a mistrial on five of the six. And on the sixth one, one count still stands.
COLMES: All right, we're going around in circles here. By the way…
COLMES: There were no charges of commuting, or rather committing or sponsoring violent acts, but rather for sponsoring fundraising events where skits were performed advocating violence. Now that's really what the charges are. Let's be clear what they're going for here.
EMERSON: No. Let's be clear here. No, there was a material support for terrorism charge. Now, Alan, there was a mistrial. Now let's just get this straight. What the jury – forget about what the jury said and forget about what the judge did. The fact remains that the evidence that came out during this trial shows that these individuals were members of HAMAS. They believed in political murder. They lied throughout their lives to the media and to the government that they were not HAMAS. It was definitively proven they were HAMAS. Now I'm not saying that that's the grounds for conviction, but I am saying the documents are amazing, including one which I want to quote to you, OK, which shows you that they were part of a larger Islamist movement. One – this document was declassified and released during the trial – "The Ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood, must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within." OK? That's the type of individual that was being tried right now.
OLIVER NORTH: Steven Emerson, let me ask, for the benefit of our audience that may not know quite as much about these groups as perhaps you do or I do, and obviously Alan needs to learn more, just…
COLMES: I don't need to learn more. Look, Ollie, stop that. That's not fair.
NORTH: Let me just ask the question.
COLMES: I'm telling what the Associated Press and The New York Times reported.
NORTH: And they're always right?
COLMES: That's not a fair statement.
NORTH: And they're always right?
COLMES: I'm telling you what's been in the mainstream press, what [UI] sources have reported.
EMERSON: Alan, you stopped reading at the wrong time, Alan. The judge…
NORTH: Let me get the question before we run out of time, Steven.
NORTH: The fact is that there are numerous charities around the world. How much charity money is going to support radical Islamic causes like al-Qaeda?
EMERSON: Well, listen, if we put in a worldwide estimate, and there's no definitive answer, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone to support al-Qaeda, Hizbollah, HAMAS, Islamic Jihad over the past decade, perhaps a billion dollars.
NORTH: And the Holy Land Foundation was fingered how?
EMERSON: They were fingered because the charities that they were giving money to were actually HAMAS charities that were funding suicide bombers or radical Islamic activities, violent activities against the Israelis.
NORTH: And providing funds to the families of those who committed murders with [UI].
EMERSON: Of the martyrs. Right, providing annuities to the families, inducing suicide bombers to carry out those bombings, because their families were taken of.
NORTH: Steve, let me ask you a quick question. There's a new Osama bin Laden tape out in which he apparently apologizes to the people of Iraq for
al-Qaeda in Iraq's misactions. Is al-Qaeda in serious trouble?
EMERSON: I think this is unprecedented admission that he's weak, that he has no command and control, that he doesn't know how to get the message and that he's lost support. It's an unprecedented admission of weakness, right now, Alan. It's a fantastic thing for the U.S. government.
NORTH: Steve Emerson, thank you very much for taking the time to join us tonight.
EMERSON: You're welcome.