Hamas funders jailed for 65 years in Texas
May 27, 2009
Top Holy Land Foundation Defendants Elashi and Abu Baker Each Sentenced To 65 Years In Hamas Terror Trial
May 27, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - This morning in a Dallas courtroom, trial judge Jorge Solis meted out harsh sentences in the case of U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation, thus concluding the United States' most significant terror fundraising prosecution to date.
All five defendants, Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mazain, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh were found guilty in a complex start-and-stop undertaking that spanned nearly five years and encompassed a mistrial which forced the government to retool and streamline its case.
Indicating the gravity of the offenses, even the lesser defendants received sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years.
With charges ranging from money laundering to support of a foreign terror organization the 5 were convicted on November 24, 2009 [see, http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=hlfid=11.24.08%2Ehtm] of funneling at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Ghassan Elashi was already serving a six year sentence, having been convicted on 21 charges in another terrorism case U.S. Vs. Infocom. Elashi is notable for being the founder of the Texas chapter of CAIR. CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations
The prosecution provided a near treasure-trove of important information of use to researchers including a government document [seem http://www.pipelinenews.org/images/GX3-85.pdf], of 1990's vintage detailing a Muslim Brotherhood plan to destroy the West - a "Civilization Jihadist Process" - designed to sabotage "its miserable house by their hands." http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=hlfid=5.27.09%2Ehtm
Hamas backers jailed in Texas
Two founder members of what was once the biggest Muslim charity in the US have each been jailed for 65 years.
Shukri Abu Baker, 50, and Ghassan Elashi, 55, were convicted of channelling funds to the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.
Three other members of the Holy Land Foundation were jailed for between 15 and 20 years by a Dallas court.
The charity was found guilty last year of sending $12m (£7.4m) to fund social programmes controlled by Hamas.
The five men were convicted in November on charges ranging from money laundering to supporting terrorism.
Hamas was designated a terrorist organisation by the US government 14 years ago, making it illegal to give the group money or other support." I did it because I cared, not at the behest of Hamas "
Defendant Shukri Abu Baker
The defendants said they were only interested in helping the needy.
Their supporters said no money had been used to fund violence, and the case was a by-product of what it called the anti-Islamic sentiment following the 11 September attacks of 2001.
Shukri Abu Baker told the judge in Dallas on Wednesday: "I did it because I cared, not at the behest of Hamas."
But prosecutors argued that the humanitarian aid sent by the charity allowed Hamas to divert money to militant activities.
Jurors had reached their guilty verdict last year after eight days of deliberations following a retrial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
It was the largest terrorism financing trial since the 9/11 attacks.
The indictment against the group said it sponsored Palestinian orphans and families in the West Bank and Gaza whose relatives had died or been imprisoned as a result of Hamas attacks on Israel.
The charity was shut down and had its assets frozen in 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8071113.stm