First Published: 2004-07-29

 
US charges Muslim charity with funding Hamas
 

Holy Land Foundation seven men charged with conspiring to support Hamas, tax fraud, money laundering.

 

Middle East Online

By Griffin Shea - WASHINGTON

Ashcroft said four of the men were arrested around US

The United States charged a banned Muslim charity and seven men with conspiring to support the radical Islamic group Hamas, and with tax fraud and money laundering, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, along with its chairman, executive director, its lead fundraiser and four other officials were charged with 42 counts of illegal financial transactions, conspiracy, money laundering and tax fraud.

The indictment seeks 12.4 million dollars from the group and the seven men, which it says is the amount they funneled to Hamas between 1995 and 2001.

The Texas-based foundation, which had billed itself as the largest US-based Muslim charity until it was banned, was also accused of financial connections to Hamas since its creation in 1989, funding Hamas and families of Hamas martyrs and prisoners, and acting as a fundraiser for Hamas in the United States.

"The indictment alleges that the Holy Land Foundation intentionally cloaked its financial support for Hamas behind the mantle of charitable activities," Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters.

"The indictment alleges that the foundation and the defendants provided financial support to the families of Hamas suicide bombers, detainees, and activists knowing and intending that such assistance would support Hamas's terrorist infrastructure."

The indictment said the group sponsored orphans and needy families in the West Bank and Gaza, but sought orphans and families whose relatives had died or were jailed because of Hamas attacks on Israel, including suicide bombings.

"In this manner, the defendants effectively rewarded past, and encouraged future, suicide bombings and terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas," Ashcroft said.

The indictment said Holy Land had given financial aid to the family of slain Hamas leader Abdelaziz Rantissi, killed in an Israeli missile strike in April, when he was deported with other Palestinian leaders from Israel to Lebanon in 1993.

The US government shuttered the foundation and froze its assets in December 2001 as part of a crackdown on US-based Muslim charities that were suspected of funnelling money to terrorist groups around the globe in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The group had appealed the ban, but the US Supreme Court in March refused to consider reversing it.

No criminal charges had been filed against the group until a grand jury in Dallas, Texas handed up the indictment on Monday.

Holy Land's chairman Ghassan Elashi, one of the seven named in the indictment, has already been jailed in a separate case in which he was convicted of illegally shipping computers to Libya and Syria through a company called InfoCom.

Washington considers both countries as "state sponsors of terrorism."

Four of the men were arrested around the United States early Tuesday, but two others were believed outside the country and considered fugitives, Ashcroft said.

The two missing men were the group's executive director Haitham Maghawri and grants director Akram Mishal, he said.

Holy Land's president Shukri Abu Baker, director of endowments Mohammad El-Mezain, fundraiser Mufi Abdelqader, and its New Jersey representative Abdulraham Odeh were arrested and expected to appear in court later Tuesday.

Mishal is the cousin of Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal, while Abdulqader is his half-brother, the indictment said.

The US Treasury last year listed Meshaal as a "specially designated global terrorist," freezing his assets.

 

Iraqi PM urged Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iran making fresh pitch for tourists

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended

Turkey summons US envoy over Syria Kurds row

Unstable dam affecting Mosul recapture

Jihadist attacks bring Egypt's tourist industry to its knees

‘Hell’ falling on Aleppo

Enormous challenges emerge after full liberation of Ramadi

Hamas fighter dies in latest tunnel collapse

Aleppo siege spells trouble for the West

Egypt policeman jailed for beating vet to death

How many civilians are living under 'surrender or starve' sieges in Syria?

NATO to consider policing refugee crisis

Iran deal will delay bomb up to 15 years

Top spy warns homegrown extremists pose biggest danger to US