This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/251

Bridgeview Mosque Foundation/ Hamas member Mohamed Saleh arrested with Howard U prof Abdelhaleem Ashqar on terrorism charges

August 21, 2004

MIM: After years of being under law enforcement scrutiny more proof of the obvious emerges revealing the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation's direct ties to Hamas . The BMF spokesman is Rafiq Jaber, the head of the Islamic Association of Palestine, which is the American wing of Hamas

Which begs the question of how such a hub of terrorist activity in the Hamas stronghold of Bridgeview Illinois, is still conducting 'business as usual' and why Muhammed Hamid Khalil Salah is the only BMF associate who was arrested this week. . Imam Jamil Said of The Bridgeview Mosque Foundation is a known Hamas leader. The BMF president Oussama Jamal, , is a darling of the Chicago interfaith circuit, who apparently have no problems with his and Jamal's declarations at a post 9/11 community memorial service where he stated that he did not think Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks, and that terrorism was a direct result of US support of Israel. Jamal used the event to bash Israel and cry to the media about how Muslims are suffering in the US.

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Hamas activist Oussama Jammal owns a film company and recently won an award at the International Family Film festival in California.

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Oussama Jammal Oussama Jammal, President, The Mosque Foundation, Bridgeview, IL;

At a post 9/11 press conference, in the presence of mosque spokesman Rafiq Jaber, and Imam Jamil Said, Ousama Jammal stated the following: "How certain are we that it was Arabs who were behind it?" Suggesting that Americans look at the causes, he argued that despair and fear are at the roots of terrorism. http://www.washington-report.org/archives/november01/0111050.html

The Bridgeview mosque is known as a center of IAP, Hamas, and Al Qaeda activity.

The spokesman for the Bridgeview Mosque is Rafiq Jaber, the national president of the Islamic Association of Palestine. which is "considered to be a front group for Hamas operating inside the United States". http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26545

Nabil Al Marabh, a suspected planner in the 9/11 hijackings attended the Bridgeview mosque. http://www.suntimes.com/terror/stories/cst-nws-commun21.html

A member of the the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation, Mohammed Saleh, was the first American citizen to make the FBI's most wanted Islamic terrorist list .

The Bridgeview mosque has also been linked to the Holy Land Foundation, a charity which was closed down by the U.S. government for fund raising for terrorist groups. http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=8279.


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http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=9814

Among the leaders at the Bridgeview mosque are men who have condemned Western culture, praised Palestinian suicide bombers and encouraged members to view society in stark terms: Muslims against the world. Federal authorities for years have investigated some mosque officials for possible links to terrorism financing, but no criminal charges have been filed.

Mosque leaders deny encouraging militancy and have denounced terrorism, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They shun the fundamentalist label, saying they follow the true form of Islam and others do not. They point out that an elected board sets mosque policy; if the worshipers wanted a more liberal mosque, they would vote for one.

"It's an election, a democratic process," mosque President Oussama Jammal said.

The mosque now attracts thousands of worshipers—most of them Palestinian-Americans—by offering pro-Palestinian sermons, a spiritual refuge and a strict version of Islam The ultraconservative Saudi Arabian government partially pays the salary of prayer leader Sheik Jamal.

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MIM: Below Ousamma Jamal in tuxedo, being feted and receiving award as head of his private film company the "Fine Media Group"

At a post 9/11 interfaith event at the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation he callously and brazenly stated that he does not think Americans "are willing to give up luxuries" in an apparent reference to Islamist jealousy of America's wealth and sinisterly mocks:"But how long will they hold out?"

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http://www.washington-report.org/archives/november01/0111050.html

Excerpt from "Portrait of a City"

As for Osama bin Laden, the general consensus in Chicago's Arab and Muslim community seems to be that it would have taken more than the resources available to the "Nomad of Afghanistan" to carry out operations of the sophistication and magnitude of the Sept. 11 terror. "How certain are we that it was Arabs who were behind it?" asked Jammal.

Suggesting that Americans look at the causes, he argued that despair and fear are at the roots of terrorism. His remedy: "Go after what makes people hopeless."

Do Americans have the patience for that? Jammal sounded doubtful. "We, as Arabs, are no strangers to suffering," he noted. "Americans are saying now that they are willing to give up some luxuries to get through the next phase. But how long will they hold out?"

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MIM: Hamas goes to Hollywood. BMF president Oussama Jammal's film ccmpany won an award at the International Family Film Festival. It is outrageous that security even allowed Jamal into the event and obscene that he was given an award for his company's film.


Joseph Beck, Top Applause Winner
for "Dad's Day"
Patte Dee, IFFF Program Director
Oussama Jammal,
producer of "Tables of Bah-Ya-Bah"

http://www.iffilmfest.org/2002winners.cfm

http://www.mcrcnet.org/ENewsletters/ENews_details_2004.htm

(Bridgeview, IL, May 5, 2004) The streak of awards continues for Fine Media Group (FMG), a Chicago Area producer and distributor of quality family videos. The Fables of Bah Ya Bah 2, the latest FMG release, won the Director's Gold award at the 10th Annual International Family Film Festival in Santa Clarita, California, April 23-29, 2004.

The Fables of Bah Ya Bah 2 (BYB2) is the much anticipated second video in the series of stories highlighting Middle Eastern and International folklores.

"I'm very happy that we received the award," says Oussama Jammal, president of Chicago-based Fine Media Group. "It is a public recognition of the quality films we produce, awarded at a prestigious event. The collection of stories in BYB2 is for everyone. They're fun, interesting; with catchy songs, and, at the same time, they convey moral messages for young children, no matter their background. Certain principles are universal, like stick to your family, crime never pays, be kind to the poor, and learn from your mistakes, which are the values these stories promote."

BYB2 follows other FMG highly acclaimed and award-winning productions. The Jar: A Tale from the East, for example, received First Place in the Feature Film-Animation division at the prestigious Burbank International Children's Film Festival. It was a finalist at the Santa Clarita International Family Film Festival, in the Feature Film-Animation division. Globally, "The Jar" was the winner of the Ninth Cairo International Film Festival for Children, and also received Honors at the Pulcinella Awards Competition in the Cartoons on the Bay Festival in Italy. Finally, the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival awarded both movies The Jar and Fables of Bah Ya Bah 1 (BYB1) its top honors in the "animation" category and Best Children's Film, respectively.

"We're living in times when we really must pay attention to building universal values in our young children," Jammal says. "And what better way to do that than through entertaining and quality animated productions!"
The International Family Film Festival website can be visited at
www.iffilmfest.org.

For more information, contact Fine Media Group at: 1-800-FMG-2000, or visit its website at: http://www.finemediagroup.com

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MIM: The Bridgeview Mosque Foundation and Oussama Jammal enjoy the support of the local media and many religous and public organisations in Chicago.

Last month Genvieve Abdo, the religous affairs writer for the Chicago Tribune, spoke at the BMF on Muslims and Media .

http://www.mcrcnet.org/ENewsletters/ENews_details_2004.htm

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American Muslims in the Eyes of the Media - Mosque Foundation

When: Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 8:00 p.m.

Where: The Mosque Foundation, 7360 W. 93rd Street, Bridgeview, IL 60455

Speaker: Genieve Abdo, Religion Reporter at the Chicago Tribune, Author of "No God but God, Egypt and the Triumph of Islam." Genieve Abdo is an expert of the moderate modern Islamic movement; she spent 10 years in her professional life in Egypt and was introduced to the real moderate face of modern Islamic movement. She
will discuss the impact of Media on Public Opinion, How is the American Media representing American Muslims and Islam, and what are the effective ways in dealing with the Media"

* Refreshments will be served.

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Scott Alexander, the head of the Catholic Theological Union's Christian and Muslim Relations program delivered a talk on Sufism and Islam.

In December 2003 Alexander had invited Jammal to be the Muslim representative at CTU Bernardin Center Interfaith event.

Sufism and Islam - Mosque Foundation


Speaker: Professor Scott Alexander, Professor of Islamic Studies at Catholic Theological Union
Date: Saturday July 24th
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: Mosque Foundation, 7360 W. 93rd Street, Bridgeview, IL 60455
* Event open to public, Free admission

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For more on Scott Alexander and the BMF see:

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/256

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http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsnews/211nd1.htm

Salah indicted for supporting Hamas

Saturday, August 21, 2004

By Chris Hack
Staff writer


Mohammed Salah, the Bridgeview man who has long stood at the center of a federal probe of terrorist financing, was indicted Friday on charges he served as a high-ranking operative for the Palestinian militant group Hamas.


What Salah has said about Middle East activities

For 15 years, Salah recruited young volunteers for murderous missions, helped launder money through bank accounts scattered around the world, and hand-delivered cash to senior Hamas leaders in the Middle East, according to the charges announced in Washington by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Salah's staunch support for Hamas allegedly continued after he was released from a long stint in an Israeli prison and returned to his quiet neighborhood — even after he had become the only U.S. citizen to be officially designated an international terrorist.

Salah, 51, could face life in prison if convicted of charges including racketeering conspiracy, providing material support to terrorism and obstruction of justice. Also charged in the case were senior Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, currently a fugitive living in Syria, and Palestinian activist Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar of Virginia.

Ashqar, a former business professor at Howard University in Washington, had already been indicted for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago investigating Hamas fundraising even after a grant of immunity. This new indictment levels exponentially more serious charges that he served as a lead Hamas administrator and information clearinghouse for followers in this country.

"The individuals named in the indictment are alleged to have played a substantial role in financing and supporting international terrorism," Ashcroft said. "They are alleged to be material supporters of a foreign terrorist organization, taking advantage of the freedoms of an open society to foster and finance acts of terror."

The indictment lists as mere examples six Middle East terrorist attacks in the mid-1990s that left 81 people — including several Americans — dead. After each car bombing, drive-by shooting or suicide bombing, Hamas publicly took credit for the bloodshed, according to the indictment.

"Hamas killed people — lots of people," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "These defendants aided the violent goals of the Hamas enterprise."

The three men are not charged with participating in the attacks — or even with knowing the particulars of the deadly plans before they were carried out. But they will be held responsible for the killings if prosecutors can prove they significantly helped Hamas.

"The United States makes no distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance, manage or supervise terrorist organizations," Ashcroft said.

Friday's indictment is just the latest in a string of federal terrorism-related prosecutions — many focusing on Chicago's south suburbs — since Sept. 11, 2001.

But this case marks the first time federal prosecutors have labeled Hamas a criminal enterprise and used racketeering laws, which are most often used against mobsters and drug kingpins, to charge the group's alleged members.

Ashqar's Chicago-based attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin said he had been expecting new charges in the case but that the "scope and breadth of the indictment is astonishing and absurd."

"It's a blatant publicity stunt by the Bush-Ashcroft administration to cater to the Jewish vote," Durkin said. "And it's an amazing attempt by this administration to try to criminalize an international political issue that no U.S. administration has had the courage to resolve."

Salah, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp before moving to Chicago in 1970 and becoming a naturalized citizen, was arrested by FBI agents and state police during a traffic stop Thursday night in Oak Lawn. His van was pulled over on 95th Street, and he was handcuffed and taken way without explanation, according to nephew Abdullah Salah.

He appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit during a Friday morning hearing before a federal magistrate. Salah's court-appointed attorney requested he be allowed to have scheduled outpatient surgery at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn on Monday — but the federal marshals in charge of guarding their prisoner under extra-tight security said it would be a "logistical nightmare" to go through with the plan.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve may be asked to rule on the request early Monday; Salah and Ashqar are expected to appear together at a hearing Tuesday.

According to the indictment, Salah began working for Hamas in 1988, and within two years, as a member of its so-called security committee, was assigned to recruit young Palestinians studying in the United States and discern their "capacity to participate in terrorist activities against Israel."

"This process produced numerous names which the security committee sorted based on their knowledge of chemistry, physics, computer science and military operations," the indictment stated.

By 1992, Salah allegedly identified two outstanding prospects from the group of students and paid to send them to the Middle East for bomb-making training. At the same time, Salah provided $50,000 to a West Bank Hamas operative who needed money for guns, according to the indictment.

Shortly afterward, Marzook allegedly dumped nearly $1 million into Salah's Chicago bank account and instructed him to spread the money among Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to the indictment, Salah's January 1993 trip to the Occupied Territories included visits to a who's who roster of the organization's leadership. Salah allegedly promised money to each of the leaders he met with.

At one stop, alleged Hamas Lt. Abu Saeb gave Salah an update on the number of guns they had, and he noted the group had eight underground shelters for hiding fugitives, according to the indictment.

"Abu Saeb asked defendant Salah for additional money to continue terrorist activity and to purchase weapons," the indictment alleged. "Salah agreed to provide additional money."

But later in the trip, Salah was arrested by Israel's Shin Bet security service, accused of trying to deliver $650,000 to Hamas leaders. He eventually pleaded guilty in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.

Salah's companion on the 1993 trip, Mohammed Jarad — who has not been charged with a crime in this country and is identified in the indictment only as "Co-conspirator A" — would later tell Ashqar that Salah was snared because another Hamas operative had confessed to authorities, according to the indictment.

"Based on this information," the indictment alleged, "specific recommendations for future Hamas operations were generated."

The lesson learned, federal prosecutors claim, was that Hamas operatives confronted by authorities should clam up at any cost. And prosecutors claim it was that tactic that, one decade after a confession landed Salah in an Israeli prison cell, Ashqar employed as he stood defiantly silent before a grand jury in Chicago's Dirksen Federal Building.

Ashqar, who came to the country in the late 1980s as a graduate student at the University of Mississippi, eventually assumed a leadership role as the lead money-launderer for Hamas in the United States, according to the indictment. Through a ring of many unnamed coconspirators, Ashqar allegedly took control of large amounts of money — often from banks in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia — and distributed the money to domestic accounts spread around at least seven states before it was ultimately sent back to the offshore accounts.

The indictment doesn't say where this money originally came from, but it notes that "Hamas has maintained a worldwide network of members who donate money to support the goals of Hamas. Much of the fundraising was done by and through individuals as well as various nonprofit organizations that collect money."

Ashqar also allegedly acted as a clearinghouse for Hamas information, collecting any news of the group's activities and disseminating edicts — including Hamas statements distributed by Palos Hills-based Islamic Association for Palestine, according to the indictment. In filings in other court cases, federal agents have described IAP as the propaganda arm for Hamas in this country. The IAP and its activist leader Rafeeq Jaber have not been charged with a crime.

In 1998, Ashqar was jailed briefly after refusing to answer questions from a federal grand jury in New York investigating terrorism. Five years later he was again jailed — and embarked on a two-month hunger strike until he was released on bond — for the same infraction in Chicago. Despite a grant of immunity, Ashqar refused to answer basic questions, such as the date or place of his birth, from the Chicago grand jury.

While his attorneys and well-organized supporters insist Ashqar's silence was civil disobedience in the face of what they call a governmental Muslim-focused witch-hunt in the wake of 9-11, prosecutors call it a sinister modus operandi: Ashqar's alleged obstruction of justice was "an effort to hide his and co-conspirators' activities on behalf of Hamas, and to continue his activities on behalf of Hamas undetected," according to the indictment.

The same was true, prosecutors said, when Salah denied the allegations raised in a $600 million civil lawsuit brought by the family of an American teenager killed in a Hamas attack. The lawsuit, which is pending, accuses Salah and others of supporting Hamas. Although Salah, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, earlier this year refused to submit to questioning in the case, he had earlier filed sworn court papers denying his alleged Hamas ties.

By the time Salah in 1997 returned to the United States after finishing his stint in an Israeli prison, he — as well as Hamas — had been officially designated international terrorists by then-President Clinton. And in 1998, federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit to seize Salah's assets, including nearly $1 million in savings and his home.

But until Friday, no criminal charges were filed against Salah. His alleged money-running trip to the Occupied Territories on behalf of Hamas happened two years before that group was designated a terrorist organization.

But in late 1999, Salah allegedly enlisted an unnamed individual to go to the Occupied Territories on Hamas business. According to the indictment, the individual passed along messages from Salah to Hamas higher-ups — and scouted Jerusalem for suitable locations for future terrorist attacks.

That allegation formed the basis for a single count of providing material support to terrorist organization lodged against Salah. But prosecutors' decision to also file the racketeering charges means they will also try to use in court all Hamas-related evidence they claim to have on the duo — starting with Salah's recruitment activities in the early 1990s and ending with his and Ashqar's alleged lies and obstruction in court a decade later.

Salah's family spent Friday trying to get information on what the government was alleging and what they could do to help, Abdullah Salah said.

He said he thought the federal investigation had quieted recently and was hoping that meant prosecutors would finally leave his uncle alone.

"John Ashcroft likes to make these announcements and say they've caught a bunch of terrorists ... but then most of the charges get dropped," Abdullah Salah said. "There's no new information. They could have done this when he came (back) to the country seven years ago. But the seven years he lived here, he's been living a law-abiding life."

Fitzgerald flatly denied the timing of the indictment was in any way politically motivated, and he insisted a solid case against Salah couldn't have been brought any faster than it was.

"Do you think that if we had this case in 2002 we would have put it on the shelf?" Fitzgerald said Friday. "We brought this case when we thought it was appropriate."

The indictment is the latest in a steady stream of terrorism-related prosecutions since 9-11 with links to Chicago's south suburbs.

The leader of a Palos Hills-based Muslim charity has been convicted of diverting donations to violent Chechen rebels; an Oak Lawn community-newspaper publisher has been convicted of snooping for Saddam Hussein; a Tinley Park man was indicted last year on still-pending charges he provided support to the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and late last month the leaders of a large Muslim charity with offices in Palos Hills were indicted on federal charges the charity was really a fundraising front for Hamas.

The mood inside the Bridgeview mosque was tense Friday, said Berwyn teenager Mohammad Ramadan, who said he attended school with Mohammed Salah's son.

"It's kind of an eerie feeling, people feel like something is going to happen, like someone's going to get arrested," Ramadan said. "They feel (Salah) is being picked on by government, that he's a fine, upstanding Muslim."

Most of the new terrorism cases have been made possible since new rules went into effect following the passage of the USA Patriot Act in the wake of 9-11. The new law allowed federal prosecutors to use decades worth of secret intelligence information they previously weren't allowed to see.

Ashcroft noted that from the day the new rules went into effect, federal prosecutors have been reviewing old investigations in which charges were not brought because of a lack of admissible evidence.

"And that," Ashcroft said, "is an ongoing process."

Contributing: Jonathan Lipman

Southtown legal affairs writer

Chris Hack may be reached at chack@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5984.

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http://www.mcrcnet.org/ENewsletters/ENews_details_2004.htm

MIM:The Chicago Islamists urge the "community to support " arrested terrorist suspects Bridgeview mosque and Hamas associate Saleh and Hamas leader Abdelhaleem Ashqar.

"The community is urged to continue their moral support by attending the above mentioned hearing as well as the trial scheduled in September 20th, 2004; and with financial support needed for Dr. Ashqar's legal defense fund because the outcome of his case is critical to our community. "

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(Alexandria, Va. - 07/22/04) Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday July 26th, 2004 at 2:00pm in the district court in Chicago in front of Federal Judge Amy St. Eve. The address of the court is:

Everett McKinley Dirksen Building
219 South Dearborn Street (Room 1251)
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Dr. Ashqar was indicted in June 24th, 2004 on a second charge; a superceding indictment of "Obstruction of Justice"for his refusal to testify in front of the Grand Jury in Chicago. However, Dr. Ashqar was released from jail in November last year and still subject to the following conditions: Electronic monitoring (leg bracelet); curfew in which Dr. Ashqar is not allowed to leave his home between 11:00pm until 5:00am; travel restrictions as well as a one million dollar bail.

Background: In October 2003, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar was indicted on criminal contempt to punish him for refusing to testify in front of a Grand Jury in Chicago against his fellow Palestinians and Muslims. Recently, Dr. Ashqar retained two renowned and well respected attorneys - Mr. Michael Kennedy from New York and Mr. Thomas Durkin from Chicago to represent him in his on going case.

The community is urged to continue their moral support by attending the above mentioned hearing as well as the trial scheduled in September 20th, 2004; and with financial support needed for Dr. Ashqar's legal defense fund because the outcome of his case is critical to our community. If we don't join hands to support his commendable stance, the government will assume that it can continue this line of harassment against fellow Muslims and Palestinians to suppress our rights to freedom of speech and political affiliation.

For further information, visit the website:
http://www.free-ashqar.org/

Free Dr. Ashqar Committee (FDAC)
Post Office Box 151264
Alexandria, VA 22315

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MIM: The "re" re arrest of Howard University professor Abdelhaleem Hasan Ashqar also begs the question as to how he was let go after his second arrest in five years on charges of terrorist funding. which he vowed to "fight through the legal system".This article from 2003 outlines Ashqar's political and terrorist agenda, in his own words. One can only hope that this time he will not be able to exploit the US legal system and US taxpayer's money.Howard University professor Abdelhaleem Ashqar is a leading figure and fundraiser for the murderous terrorist group Hamas. and aided and abetted those who perpetrated the savage drive by shooting at a bus stop near Jerusalem in 1996, which killed David Boim . a 17 year old American teenager who was on his way home from school.

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MIM: Deja vu all over again -this is an excerpt from an article about Ashqar's arrest in September 2003.

In July 2003 counter terrrorism expert Steven Emerson was quoted as saying:

Even though Ashqar has never been prosecuted for terrorist activities, Emerson believes Ashqar's alleged ties to Hamas should not be discounted: "He shouldn't have been allowed to stay in this country."

http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0307/27/m03.html

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CHICAGO, Sept. 4 - 2003- A former Howard University professor and Palestinian activist with alleged ties to the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, is scheduled to be jailed for the second time in five years for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the terrorist group's finances and activities.

Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who taught at Howard for three years, gained national attention for a six-month hunger strike in 1998 while he was jailed for not cooperating with a New York grand jury. In a separate case last month in Chicago, Charles P. Kocoras, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, again held Ashqar in civil contempt for refusing to talk to a grand jury even after he was granted immunity.

Unless he wins an appeal, Ashqar said he will fly to Chicago on Friday to go to jail rather than participate in what he called a "witch hunt" against Palestinians fighting Israeli oppression.

see article below).

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For more on the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation see :

"Scott Alexander planned CTU exchange program with Al Quds University and Hamas activists Azzam Tamimi and Mustafa Abu Sway"

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/200

For more on the Chicago Islamist community see:

"Chicago Islamist leader Kareem Irfan sees beheadings as a "primordial expression of retaliation and revenge".

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/177

In 1993 counter terrorism expert visited the Bridgeview Mosque and recounted that :

Later, he took Khalid and me to the Bridgeview Mosque, where Jamal Said was the imam. I could tell immediately that we were deep in the heart of Hamas territory.

The walls of the vestibule were covered with Hamas posters and recruiting literature showing masked gunmen brandishing automatic weapons. It was all in Arabic, but you could see daggers plunged into Jewish hearts wrapped up in American flags. They even had a library filled with militant terrorist videos and books.http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26888


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http//seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apmideast_story.asp?category=1107&slug=Hamas%20Indictments%20Glance

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

Friday, August 20, 2004 · Last updated 11:24 a.m. PT

Three indicted in raising funds for Hamas

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A look at the three men charged with financing terrorist activities in Israel:

-Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, 53, is deputy chief of the Hamas Political Bureau. The U.S.-educated Abu Marzook holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and lived in the United States for 15 years, in Louisiana and Virginia. In 1995, he was detained by U.S. authorities on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. He was expelled to Jordan, and later sent by Jordan to Syria. He lives in Damascus and is considered a fugitive from U.S. justice.

-Muhammad Hamid Khalil Salah, 51, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Bridgeview, Ill. He was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jerusalem and moved to Chicago in 1970, where he studied chemical engineering. He pleaded guilty to helping funnel $650,000 to Hamas in 1995 and served five years in an Israeli prison. Salah returned to the Chicago area and worked at City Colleges of Chicago's Olive-Harvey College, but was fired last year for not disclosing his Israeli conviction. Salah was arrested Thursday night.

-Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, 46, of Alexandria, Va., originally is from the Palestinian West Bank. He entered the United States as a graduate student at the University of Mississippi in the 1980s and later worked as a business professor at Howard University in Washington. He earlier was indicted on charges of criminal contempt for refusing to testify before a Chicago grand jury investigating fund-raising activities on behalf of Hamas. Ashqar was arrested Thursday night

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4438629,00.html

3 Palestinian Activists Face U.S. Charges


Friday August 20, 2004 10:01 PM

AP Photo CX102

By TED BRIDIS

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior political leader of the Hamas militant group and two others were indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, accused of laundering money used to pay for attacks against Israel over 15 years, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday.

Authorities accused the three of using bank accounts in Ohio, Mississippi, Virginia, Wisconsin and elsewhere to launder millions of dollars to support Hamas, which the U.S. government designated as a terrorist organization in 1995. Ashcroft said the three operated a "U.S.-based terrorist-recruiting and financing cell."

The indictment said the laundered money was used to pay for murders, kidnappings, assaults and passport fraud.

The federal indictment in Chicago, unsealed after two of the defendants were arrested overnight Thursday in Illinois and Virginia, was unusual because it treats Hamas as a traditional criminal enterprise as much as a terrorism organization. Authorities noted that at least three Americans in Israel were killed in bombings and shootings blamed on Hamas since 1994.

The defendants include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, formerly chief and now deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau. Abu Marzook, who was expelled from the United States to Jordan in 1997, is believed to be living in Damascus, Syria, and is considered a fugitive, Ashcroft said at a news conference. The United States and Syria do not have an extradition treaty.

A Hamas spokesman in Beirut, Osama Hamdan, declined to comment on the indictment.

The two others named in the indictment - Muhammad Hamid Khalil Salah, 51, of Chicago and Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, 46, of Alexandria, Va. - were arrested Thursday night. Salah also was charged with providing material support for terrorism and obstruction of justice.

Salah was accused of recruiting and training new members of Hamas in the United States. After his release from prison in Israel in 1997, authorities said he directed an associate in Chicago, who wasn't identified in the indictment, to scout potential targets for terrorist attacks in Israel in October 1999.

Salah pleaded innocent during a hearing in Chicago. His lawyer, a public defender, asked permission for Salah to be released Monday for outpatient hernia surgery, but prosecutors objected. The magistrate left the decision to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve early next week. Salah's next court appearance was set for Tuesday.

Ashqar, who previously had been offered immunity from prosecution, already was under house arrest on related charges of contempt and obstruction of justice.

"No justice in this country whatsoever," Ashqar's wife, Asmaa, said as she left her husband's detention hearing later Friday in federal court in Alexandria. A U.S. magistrate ordered Ashqar held pending his transfer to face the latest charges in Chicago, after a prosecutor said Hamas officials might help him flee the country.

"The defendant has associations at the highest level of Hamas," prosecutor David Laufman said. "It's reasonable to believe his contacts could facilitate his flight."

Ashqar's lawyer, Tom Durkin, argued at the hearing that the latest indictment was related to a case that Ashqar has been fighting for more than a year, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan said the indictment unsealed Friday included charges "so significantly different that I believe the whole ballgame has changed."

The U.S.-educated Abu Marzook, 53, holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and lived in the United States for 15 years, in Louisiana and Virginia. In 1995, he was detained by U.S. authorities on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. He was expelled to Jordan and later sent from Jordan to Syria.

Ashcroft said a criminal case against Abu Marzook was impossible at the time of his expulsion from the United States because U.S. intelligence agencies were not permitted to share information they collected about terrorism suspects with criminal investigators. The Patriot Act, passed one month after the Sept. 11 attacks, allows such sharing.

It was the second major Hamas-related indictment announced by the Justice Department recently. Last month, a major American Muslim charity and seven of its senior officers were charged with illegally funneling millions of dollars to support Hamas.

The 42-count indictment unsealed in Dallas alleges the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development used its tax-exempt status to masquerade as a legitimate charity while most of its money was going to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas.

Ahmed al-Haj Ali, an adviser to Syria's information minister, complained that Friday's indictment was a prelude to imposing sanctions against the country. Ali also described it as a U.S. pre-election stunt by the government to divert attention from the war in Iraq toward Syria.

"America is in the middle of presidential election campaigns, and with the dilemma of its economic policies and wanting to shift the focus away from Iraq and Palestine, (Washington is) increasing the heat against Syria," Ali told The Associated Press.

^---

Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat in Alexandria, Va., and Maura Kelly Lannan in Chicago contributed to this story.

^---

On the Net:

Justice Department release: www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2004/August/04-crm-571.htm


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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/467507.html

22/08/2004

U.S. arrests two in Hamas financing case

By Yoav Stern
U.S. officials have arrested two men and issued a warrant against a third, whom they accuse of funneling money to the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the past 15 years, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Mohammed Hamid Khalil Salah was arrested in Chicago and Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar in northern Virginia on Thursday.

The most senior of the three is Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, who formerly served as chief of Hamas' political bureau, the most senior official position in the organization. He is a former U.S. resident with a doctorate in engineering from a U.S. university and now lives in Syria, and was jailed by the Americans in 1995 and later deported to Jordan.

"The individuals named in this indictment are alleged to have played a substantial role in financing and supporting international terrorism. They are alleged to be material supporters of a foreign terrorist organization," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news conference.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to say whether the U.S. would seek Abu Marzook's extradition. However Syria expects the U.S. to do so, together with sanctions the U.S. is reportedly preparing to impose on Syria for not cooperating with the war on terror. "This is part of George Bush's election campaign," Syrian sources said.

All three were charged with racketeering conspiracy in an indictment which also seeks forfeiture of more than $3,300,000 from accounts that the defendants control. All three men were accused of using U.S. bank accounts to launder millions of dollars to support Hamas activities.

In addition to racketeering, Salah, 51, was also charged with providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. The indictment accuses him of recruiting and training new Hamas members and helping funnel money to finance the militant group's operations.

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Item 4563 • Posted: Tue, Sep. 23 2003 • Weblogged by ReligionNewsBlog.com
http://www.religionnewsblog.com/4563-U.S._investigating_Mosque_Foundation.html http://www.religionnewsblog.com/4563-.html

US Investigating Mosque Foundation

Daily Southtown, Sep. 21, 2003
http://www.dailysouthtown.com
By Chris Hack and Allison Hantschel, Staff Writers

Federal authorities are investigating the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview and its leaders for possible involvement in terror-related money laundering.

The house of worship, one of the largest Islamic centers in the Chicago area, has been under FBI surveillance for years, the Daily Southtown has learned.

A decade-old federal investigation, a landmark lawsuit filed three years ago and the government crackdown on Muslim charities after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have served expose a complex web of small businesses and charitable associations accused of funneling money to Palestinian terrorist groups.

Federal agents, once discouraged from launching criminal inquiries into some terror-funding sources, now are nearing a critical stage in their probe into the heart of the Islamic community in and around Bridgeview.

One source familiar with the investigation said indictments could come by the end of the year.

Since the pale stone building with its large blue dome was built in 1981, its leaders and worshippers have known they're being watched, targeted because of their roots in the violent Middle East.

FBI agents attended prayers at the Mosque Foundation for years before the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and now find themselves the focus of surveillance by lookouts from the mosque along 93rd Street who take note of unfamiliar cars driving into the neighborhood off Harlem Avenue and parking on the narrow streets at prayer times.

Almost immediately after 9-11, federal agents arrested, indicted, deported or detained dozens of figures accused of financially supporting terrorism overseas. Three of the nation's largest Muslim charities — all with offices in the southwest suburbs — were shut down.

In the renewed effort to cut the flow of money from the United States to groups deemed terrorist organizations by the U.S. government, federal agents in the past two years have found plenty of work within the southwest suburbs' Islamic community. Connections have been alleged between men here and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, and Saddam Hussein's regime.

Although the recent take-downs have not struck directly at the mosque in Bridgeview, members of its leadership have long been targets of a probe into the funding of Palestinian militant group Hamas. A federal civil lawsuit and an FBI affidavit have raised allegations of an illicit terrorist fundraising ring that includes powerful members of the local Islamic community connected to the mosque.

The Mosque Foundation's leaders know they're under increased examination.

"We would be naive," said Mosque Foundation president Osama Jammal, "to think we are not being investigated or that we are not targets."

Jammal and other mosque officials refused to discuss imam Sheikh Jamal Said or his leadership. He said many people within the mosque may be sympathetic to Palestinians but not to Hamas.

Jammal defended what he described as donations to various overseas charities through the mosque, totaling as much as $1 million.

Charities are permitted to come to the mosque and solicit during religious observances since charity is one of the five pillars of Islam, Jammal said.

"Any organization that is registered with the U.S. as a (non-profit), and it is known that they are a credible organization, they can come in and talk to our members," he said.

Jammal denied that anyone associated with the mosque supported Hamas or any other militant organization.

"People here are Palestinians, and they feel sad about what happens in their country," Jamal said. "That's their right; it's a right given to everyone by God. But you cannot have the exclusive right to be concerned about your people and everybody else can go to hell."


Major mosque

Since its founding more than two decades ago, the Bridgeview mosque has been an important focal point for an immigrant Islamic community. There are about 400,000 Muslims in the Chicago area, and about 40 mosques and Islamic community centers, according to the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

"It is one of three or four major mosques in the Chicago area, along with the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, the (North Side) Muslim Community Center and the Northbrook Islamic Cultural Center," said Mohammed Kaiseruddin, former chairman of the council. "Everybody recognizes it to be the fourth big one."

Its past is no less fraught with controversy than its present.

Built in 1981, the $1.3 million building became the subject of a lawsuit shortly after it opened.

In 1973, the Mosque Foundation and the American-Arabian Ladies Society purchased the plot of land at 7360 W. 93rd St. for $50,000, and both groups worked to raise money for construction.

But before the mosque was completed, the Mosque Foundation transferred its title to the North American Islamic Trust, a subsidiary of the Islamic Society of North America, the country's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic trust now owns nearly a third of all mosques and Muslim centers in the United States, many of them acquired in the 1980s through funds provided by the Saudi government.

The American-Arabian Ladies Society protested what they saw as a "takeover" of their mosque by a conservative school of thought within Islam known as Wahhabism, saying moderate Muslims were being driven out of the community.

The ladies lost, and the mosque title remains part of the Islamic trust headed by a Burr Ridge neurologist who runs an Islamic investment group and has had at least one documented run-in with the Internal Revenue Service for nearly $50,000 in unpaid federal income taxes.

The socially strict state religion of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism spread by the powerful North American Islamic Trust has likely brought increased government scrutiny wherever it is practiced. Several East Coast officials have heavily criticized the sect, noting that a majority of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi.

"Wahhabism is an extremist, exclusionary form of Islam that not only denigrates other faiths but also marginalizes peaceful followers of Islam like the Shia and moderate Sunnis," U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) told a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on terrorism earlier this month. "More importantly, they are allowed to recruit disciples who pose a tremendous threat to Americans everywhere."


Imam a controversial figure

The Bridgeview mosque's imam since 1985 has been Said, a Jordanian-born cleric sent to the United States to minister to a growing Islamic community here.

Said brought a conservative school of Islamic thought to the mosque, drove out moderate Muslims and divided the community with his political activities, his critics claim.

He's a cleric who holds great influence within the community but is almost unknown outside it.

Area religious leaders praise Said and say he has tried to defuse tension within his own community. But his critics say he has turned the mosque's focus away from local projects and toward Palestinian causes that attract unwanted government attention.

Kaiseruddin said he has known Said since he came to Chicago.

"He's very knowledgeable about Islam, very caring, very friendly with people," Kaiseruddin said. "I don't have firsthand knowledge of his educational qualifications, but ultimately what counts in the community is how people trust his opinion, and people trust the sheikh. They have confidence in him."

The Rev. Walter Turlo, pastor of St. Fabian Catholic Church in Bridgeview, described Said as a friend, one who tried to keep the peace between more radical and moderate factions at the mosque.

"He's very wise. He's not easily fooled by the media, by people who are trying to get a tug-of-war going over some issue," Turlo said. "He keeps his own counsel, and he's not going to be drawn into anything that will make him look like a fool or put the community in harm's way."

St. Fabian has a longstanding interfaith exchange with the 20-year-old Mosque Foundation. After the terrorist attacks — when a mob marched on the mosque chanting anti-Arab slogans and waving American flags, and Arab shopkeepers' windows were smashed — Turlo reached out to Said in a show of support.

"That's what the mosque stood for during that time," Turlo said. "It articulated clearly the importance of freedom of religion and the multicultural nature of this area."

But outside the protective circle of the Palestinian-Jordanians who make up more than 80 percent of the southwest suburban immigrant Muslim community, there is considerable animosity for Said's leadership, said former FBI agent John Vincent, a 27-year bureau veteran who investigated terrorism ties to the south suburbs.

"There's a lot of resentment," Vincent said. "People grumble about the amount of money they think he has. The moderate Muslim wants to practice his religion and not interfere, and the radicals have taken over."

Ali Alarabi, spokesman for an Arab advocacy group on Chicago's Southwest Side, echoed Vincent's comments about Said's divisiveness.

Alarabi, who once worshipped at the mosque but is now estranged from many of its members, said Said was more concerned about international events and politics than he was about the local Islamic community's needs.

"This is a long conflict within the community," said Alarabi, leader of the United Arab American League. "The mosque leadership believes in a certain ideological school of thought, and people who are religious but not political have a conflict with them."


Pre-Sept. 11 probes

Vincent's familiarity with the Bridgeview mosque began in 1993, when as an FBI agent based in Chicago, he followed the case of Bridgeview resident Mohammed Salah.

Salah was arrested and spent five years in an Israeli prison, accused of using a still-operating nonprofit Islamic organization based in Oak Lawn to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas.

Israeli authorities said one of the men assisting Salah, Mohammed Jarad, told them Said had sent him to give money to the Palestinian militant organization. Vincent and his partner, Robert Wright, were assigned to investigate possible terrorism ties in the south suburbs, including at the mosque.

The allegations made in Wright's 1998 affidavit about Salah's money-running for Hamas provided the basis of a 1998 government forfeiture action to seize $1.4 million in funds and property from Salah and the nonprofit Quranic Literacy Institute. That case, still pending after more than five years, was long ago put on hold by a federal judge as a grand jury criminal investigation into the facts of the case proceeded.

Although much of the allegedly illegal activity cited in the forfeiture complaint took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, those allegations are still simmering.

The federal forfeiture case against Salah inspired a groundbreaking $300 million federal civil lawsuit filed in Chicago against several local Muslim groups on behalf of an American teen killed in a 1996 Hamas attack in the West Bank. That lawsuit, also still being fought in court, claims to expose a Hamas fundraising conspiracy formed by a collection of Islamic organizations based in the suburbs of Chicago, Dallas and Washington.

A federal appellate court in that case already has ruled that for the first time in the United States, those here who finance or otherwise aid terrorist groups can be sued for terrorist killings committed by other people on the other side of the world. Targeted in the lawsuit are members of the Bridgeview Islamic community, including Sabri Samirah, a current member of the mosque's board and a high-profile member who was recently exiled from the United States on government allegations he's a danger to U.S. national security. Samirah is living in Jordan.

In 1998, a grand jury had been convened in Chicago and was about to begin interviewing witnesses in the case when the FBI halted the investigation for reasons still unclear, said Vincent, who retired from the bureau after 9-11.

The Mosque Foundation has been under FBI surveillance for years, Vincent said, and such surveillance has only increased after 9-11.

"The FBI has had problems going in there for years," he said. "During the week they have people out on the corners doing counter-surveillance. It's a very insular community."

Under the sweeping new provisions of the USA Patriot Act, federal prosecutors can now use years of intercepted phone calls, e-mails and faxes collected by the intelligence community's secret surveillance wiretaps of subjects suspected of being agents of a "foreign power."

Before the 2001 legislation, intelligence gathered with the special wiretaps could not be used for criminal cases. If prosecutors wanted information on the same targets, they were supposed to get their own wiretap orders after meeting the higher legal burden of proving there was probable cause to suspect criminal activity.

The Patriot Act, passed shortly after 9-11, granted prosecutors access to years' worth of surveillance previously unavailable to them. The change in law paid off for the government in March with the indictment of Tinley Park resident Ghassan Ballut, accused by a federal grand jury in Florida of running the Chicago cell of terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

And the secret intelligence wiretaps were also used to build a case against Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, the Arabic-language newspaper publisher from Oak Lawn accused of spying on local Baath Party dissidents for Saddam Hussein.


Following the money

Increasingly, the terrorism battle is being fought in office buildings by agencies with names like the Office of Foreign Asset Control and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center, which are trying to trace the money used to pay for guns and bombs.

"When you think of an extremist group, you think about (white supremacist) Matt Hale and his followers, who went out into the community and killed people," said Aminah McCloud, a professor of religious studies at DePaul University.

McCloud often lectures at the mosque and its two affiliated schools. She said members of the Bridgeview Islamic community "keep their own counsel."

"They're not out plotting to overthrow the government," she said. "By that definition of extremist, I don't think anyone there is one."

The FBI hasn't targeted the mosque directly or shut it down because the actions of a few members don't warrant the stigmatizing of an entire religious organization, Vincent said.

"It's an institution, and a lot of good people go there," he said. "You don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

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MIM: The hostile reactions of Muslims to the Southtown article on the Bridgeview Mosque belies any claims that there are those who are opposed to the Wahhabists who control the mosque. http://www.islamdaily.net/EN/Contents.aspx?AID=148

Imam Jamal Said is listed as a trustee of the North American Atlantic Trust, a Saudi funded organisation which controls 80% of all the mosques in North America.

http://www.investaaa.com/pdfs/dow_Board_of_Directors.pdf NAIT- The North American Islamic Trust - www.nait.net

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http://www.ict.org.il/spotlight/det.cfm?id=431

Parents of Slain American Teen File Suit Against Hamas Front Groups

The Parents of an American teenager killed in a Hamas ambush have filed suit in a federal court in Chicago against suspected Hamas fund-raising organizations in the United States. Stanley and Joyce Boim, of Jerusalem accuse several American-based Islamic groups and charities of funneling money to Hamas to buy the weapons used to murder their son.

First attempt to win compensation under 1990 anti-terrorism law
The suit, filed under a 1990 anti-terrorism law, demands $600 million in damages for the death of 17 year-old David Boim. Boim was gunned down while waiting for a bus near the West Bank town of Bet El in May 1996. A civilian bus had come under fire earlier the same day at the same bus stop and two passenger were injured.

Amjad Hinawi and Khalif Tawfiq Al-Sharif, two members of Hamas' military wing, Izz e-din el-Qassam were apprehended in 1997 by the Palestinian Authority. Hinawi confessed to participating in the attacks, was tried and convicted by a Palestinian court and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, al-Sharif was released by Palestinian authorities and participated in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997 in which five civilians were killed and 192 injured.

Fund-raising organizations in Illinois cited
The Boim's suit accused three Islamic fund-raising groups of funneling money to Izz e-din el-Qassam to buy the weapons and ammunition used in the attack. The groups named included the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a California corporation with a branch office in Illinois, and the Islamic Association for Palestine.

Also named was the Quranic Literacy Institute, based in Oak Lawn near Chicago, Illinois. In June 1998 U.S. law enforcement officials seized $1.4 million in cash and property from the Quranic institute. The Institute claims to be a non-profit group devoted to the publication of Islamic texts. However, according to the FBI, the group was a front group for Hamas fund-raising activities. Justice Department officials said the assets seized were used to finance Hamas activities in Israel, including the purchase of weapons, extortion, kidnapping and murder.

Hamas polit-buro chief named as defendant, along with Chicago man
Also among the defendants were Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, head of Hamas political bureau and Mohammed Abdul Hamid Khalil Salah, head of the Quranic Literacy Institute. The FBI has linked Salah to an extensive network of money laundering activities, including bank transactions, fraudulent land deals, and wire transfers from the Middle East, Switzerland, and the U.S. between Salah, the Quranic Literacy Institute, and Hamas.

The FBI claims that Salah spent more than $100,000 in "direct support of Hamas military activities," including, according to Israeli sources, the purchase of weapons used in terror attacks in Israel. For example, the M-16 rifle used in the murder of an Israeli soldier in October, 1992 was bought with money transferred to Hamas by Salah.

Mohammed Salah was arrested in Israel in January, 1993. In his possession was found $97,400 in cash and written notes connecting him with covert meetings with dozens of Hamas activists. The investigation in Israel linked Salah to Abu Marzouk, and pointed to bank records chronicling large transactions from Marzouk to Salah from 1989 right up to the time of Salah's arrest. Allegedly Salah acted as a go-between for Hamas; reportedly he was in Israel in 1993 on the orders of Abu Marzouk. In his interrogation in Israel, Salah reportedly revealed details of his Hamas training, which included the building of explosive devices, electronics, and the development of chemical weapons.

Salah pleaded guilty to membership in Hamas and illegally channeling funds to the organization. After serving five years in prison in Israel, he returned to his home in Bridgeview, Chicago in November 1997.

Palestinian Activist Faces Jail Again
Ex-Howard Teacher Balked at Grand Jury

By Robert E. Pierre
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2003; Page A03

Abdelhaleem Ashqar

http://www.4law.co.il/Lea356b.htm

Former Howard University Professor

CHICAGO, Sept. 4 -- A former Howard University professor and Palestinian activist with alleged ties to the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, is scheduled to be jailed for the second time in five years for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the terrorist group's finances and activities.

Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who taught at Howard for three years, gained national attention for a six-month hunger strike in 1998 while he was jailed for not cooperating with a New York grand jury. In a separate case last month in Chicago, Charles P. Kocoras, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, again held Ashqar in civil contempt for refusing to talk to a grand jury even after he was granted immunity.

Unless he wins an appeal, Ashqar said he will fly to Chicago on Friday to go to jail rather than participate in what he called a "witch hunt" against Palestinians fighting Israeli oppression.

"They have been making my life a misery or a hell, forcing me to surrender, to become a traitor, a collaborator against my people," he said in a telephone interview today from his home in Alexandria. "I would rather die than do it."

Grand jury testimony is secret, and federal authorities would not confirm that the case is pending. "There is no public court record regarding any such matter," said Randall Samborn, a spokesman here for U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

But in court records from previous cases, authorities have alleged that Ashqar organized meetings with activists from the Islamic Resistance Movement in Philadelphia in 1993 and Oxford, Miss., where he was a graduate student, in 1994. Hamas was declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel in 1995. In a District of Columbia case involving an Islamic charity, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in 2002 that Ashqar was "a senior Hamas activist." He has never been indicted or charged with a crime.

The FBI since last November has intensified investigations into the alleged supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, two Middle Eastern groups with support in Arab and Muslim communities. The renewed effort is the result of a federal court ruling last fall that allowed government agents to use decades worth of classified wiretaps and intelligence reports from foreign security agents that previously had been off limits. Wiretaps of Ashqar from his home in Mississippi were among them.

Ashqar, 45, came to the United States in late 1989 to study at Ole Miss as part of a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He received his doctorate in production operations management from the University of Mississippi's business school in 1997. While there, his apartment was bugged.

He said he never hid the fact that he was an activist for Palestinian causes while he was in the West Bank and once he came to the United States.

But Ashqar said his real trouble began when his exchange visa expired in 1998 and he applied for political asylum, claiming that his outspoken views on Israel would make him a target if he tried to return home. There, Ashqar said he was never a member of Hamas, but he was active in Palestinian causes. He edited a university magazine and was director of public relations at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he said his job was "exposing atrocities against institutions of higher learning and the Palestinian people."

Since he left, Ashqar said, his family members have been harassed and asked about when he intends to return. Instead of being asked about those issues in his asylum petition, however, Ashqar said he was repeatedly questioned about Palestinian activists and organizations in the United States and abroad. When he refused to talk, he was jailed and released six months later when a judge determined that he was not going to cooperate.

In the interim, he worked as an assistant professor at Howard University, teaching three undergraduate courses both fall and spring semester of last year, in what school officials described as a "temporary" position; they declined to renew his contract this year.

Howard spokeswoman J.J. Pryor said she did not believe Ashqar had been on a tenure track at the university, saying that "he was not conducting research." She declined to say why the university did not renew his contract.

Ashqar maintains that his dismissal from Howard is part of an effort by federal officials to force him to help them build cases against Palestinians in the United States and the Middle East. He has refused to assist the efforts.

His asylum case and immigration status have remained in limbo. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, he said, authorities sought to use hundred of pages of documents in an attempt to bring immigration charges against him and have his asylum case rejected. Ashqar in June withdrew his application.

On the same day, he said he received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. His scheduled deportation for mid-August was postponed until its completion.

In two appearances in Chicago, he did what he had done before: refused to talk. He was held in contempt of court and since the middle of last month has had to check in twice daily by phone with federal marshals in Chicago, visit his local immigration office twice a week and agree not to leave Virginia.

Ashqar said he no longer plans to stay in the United States and will leave for another country once his current case is settled. But for now he expects to spend time in jail. He said groups have formed to raise money to help free him from jail.

"I think it's alarming and an abuse of my civil rights," he said. "I think they are going to arrest me tomorrow. I am going to fight back within the legal system."

Staff writer Amy Argetsinger in Washington contributed to this report.

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Chicago Islamists 'boilerplate' statements condemn beheadings and caution people not to attribute them to '"Saudis.Arabs,or Muslims in general. see for more on Irfan's justification of beheadings as a "primordial expression of retribution and revenge". http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/177

Chicago Muslims denounce Johnson Murder - CIOGC

* Muslim Civil Rights Center (MCRC) is member of the CIOGC and endorses the following:

Chicago, IL, 06/18/04 - The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), an umbrella organization serving over 400,000 Muslims throughout Chicagoland, joins fellow Americans and national Muslim organizations in strongly condemning and sharing grief over the gruesome and inhumane murder of Paul Johnson, Jr., an innocent American employee of Lockheed Martin in Saudi Arabia.

Expressing personal regrets and strong revulsion, Chairman Kareem Irfan stated: "This beheading is a horrific act of senseless brutality that no cause or twisted religious grounds may justify. It is despicable that the group committing this revolting killing actually professes to be defending, and speaking in the name of, Islam. These actions run counter to the most fundamental of Islamic ethics, religious principles and moral teachings. The Council and Chicago's Muslim community offer deepest condolences to Mr. Johnson's grieving wife, family, friends and all those suffering the pain of his brutal death."

Mr. Irfan cautioned against broadly attributing this grossly inhumane act to the Saudis, Arabs or Muslims in general. "We Americans must not permit these murderous acts of a misguided few to broadly tarnish our views of millions of Muslims in the U.S. and abroad who remain steadfast on Islam's core mandates of respect, compassion, and mercy for fellow humans. These difficult times demand more than ever before that people of faith and moral conscience come together in peace to counter extremism and bloodshed by understanding and reconciliation."

- END -

Contact: Kareem M. Irfan, Chairman CIOGC - Ph.: 847.867.4304; irfank@squared.com

Bridgeview-area Muslims condemn Johnson's murder - Mosque Foundation


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BRIDGEVIEW, IL, 06/18/04 - The leaders of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview condemn in the strongest possible terms the horrific murder of American engineer Paul M. Johnson by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to Mr. Johnson's family and friends, and we pray that God will grant them comfort and solace in their time of grief.

The terrorists' actions in kidnapping and beheading Mr. Johnson are despicable and cowardly, and they do not represent Islam nor the beliefs and desires of the world's 1.2 billion peace-loving Muslims.

There is not one word in the Holy Qur'an or one example in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that would encourage, support or condone Mr. Johnson's murder. In fact, the opposite is true: The Qur'an says to kill one innocent life is the same as killing all of humanity, and to save one life is the same as saving all of humanity.

Even in their deepest sorrow, Mr. Johnson's family has said the terrorists and their actions do not reflect the goodness of the Saudi people.

Likewise, we ask our fellow Americans to remember that al-Qaeda does not represent Islam or the values of Muslims.

The Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview joins together with all of America in grief and sorrow over Mr. Johnson's death, and the senseless acts of violence being wreaked upon innocents across the globe.

We join all Americans in calling for peace and an end to senseless conflict and strife.

###

Contact: Oussama Jammal, President Mosque Foundation, Bridgeview, Phone: (708) 430-5666, ext. 5

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MIM:The seeming bland and boring website of the BMF belies the fact that they have been linked to terrorism and Hamas and been under law enforcement scrutiny for over a decade. Several of their members, besides the recently arrested Salah, were jailed or deported for terrorist offences. One of their congregants was an affiliates of the 9'/11 hijackers.

Note that the MFW profile boasts with pride of " driving busses with community members (sic) drive long nights to attend speaches and demonstrations ".

http://www.mosquefoundation.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Web.Page&pageName=Profile

The Mosque Foundation was established in 1967 and opened its doors in 1981. It was built on a vacant land surrounded by mostly forested area in Bridgeview, IL. After it was built, there were many people saying that the center was too big and would never be filled since its legal capacity was approximately 1500 people. The first few Friday Prayers in the mosque were held with one and a half lines of men and even less women in the back of the prayer hall.

Today it is one of the largest Mosques in the Midwest. It is a full service center that is open almost 24 hours and has functions on a daily basis. After a complete overhaul remodeling in 1999, the mosque now holds two sessions of Friday prayer, two sessions of Taraweeh prayers, and two Eid Prayers, and there are still people that need to pray outside due to lack of room. The Mosque Foundation gets approximately 10,000 people walking though its doors each week. Three additional parking lots were added and many times you still can not find a place to park.

With two schools next door, Universal and AQSA, the forested area is all gone and has been developed into a beautiful subdivision with approximately 200 brand new homes. The surrounding community area has just grown tremendously.

The Mosque Foundation has a full time Sunday school with over 550 students. Also a full Youth Center was established for our youth. This is a multi-purpose center where the youth can hang out and learn about their religion rather than being out on the streets. The Mosque Foundation also houses a full time book store with hundreds of books, audio tapes, and cdメs for all ages in both Arabic and English.

Of the many services provided by the Mosque Foundation, the following is a list of the main ones:

Social Service

Marriages

Counseling

Funerals

Monthly Seminars

Lectures

English/Arabic Sessions

Arbitration

Hajj Orientation

Travel Vaccination

Sunday School

Youth Center Services

And much moreナ

The people of the community are what make the Mosque Foundation what it is today. With out them, the center would be nothing. The community helps out in every aspect especially by its time and financially. Any relevant event around the country, or even around the world, will at least be mentioned if not participated in. Organized groups and busses of community members drive long nights to attend speeches and demonstrations.

May Allah guide us all onto the straight path and keep our intentions pure. Ameen

Website development by Future Internet of America

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/251