It turns out I have a lot closer ties to terrorism than even I thought. You might too.
If you have ever given money to a hospital, you might be a terrorist.
If you have ever helped the poor, especially some of the poorest in the world, you might be a terrorist.
If you have ever given money, or donated services, to a school, you might be a terrorist.
Even if you have never advocated a violent action, or done one, or given money to someone who does, you STILL might be a terrorist.
And this is considered one of the greatest “victories” by Bush in the Global War on Terror.
U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis announced the guilty verdicts on all 108 counts on the eighth day of deliberations in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. It was the biggest terrorism financing case since the attacks of Sept. 11.
The convictions follow the collapse of Holy Land’s first trial last year and defeats in other cases the government tried to build. President George W. Bush had personally announced the freezing of Holy Land’s assets in 2001, calling the action “another step in the war on terrorism.”
Holy Land wasn’t accused of violence. Rather, the government said the Richardson, Texas-based charity financed schools, hospitals and social welfare programs controlled by Hamas in areas ravaged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Prosecutors labeled Holy Land’s benefactors — called zakat committees — as terrorist recruiting pools. The charities, the government argued, spread Hamas’ violent ideology and generated loyalty and support among Palestinians.
Holy Land supporters told a different story. They accused the government of politicizing the case as part of its war on terrorism, while attorneys for the foundation said Holy Land’s mission was philanthropy and providing much-needed aid to the Middle East.
They reminded jurors that none of the zakat committees are designated by the U.S. as terrorist fronts, and that Holy Land also donated to causes elsewhere, including helping victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
For those completely ignorant of Islam (like most of the Texas jurors in the case) “zakat” is one of the five pillars upon which the religion is based. The word literally means “alms for the poor.” The cultural translation to the Western world would be “tithing” (at least in those religions where tithing isn’t really optional if you want to be a member in good standing.)
Regardless, you can probably guess that “zakat communities” are composed of some of the poorest folks around. And when you take the poorest people in one of the poorest “countries” in the world, you are talking fairly destitute.
One would think that it would be the “Christian” thing to do to help them. Maybe try and build schools and hospitals?
Well, if one thought that, one would be thinking like an actual Christian, not an American one. In the U.S. it is a terrorist act to help the poor.
At least in Bush’s America.
Note: This is the second trial for these folks. The first was declared a mistrial. Why? Hmmm, how to explain this….ah here we go….23% of Texans still thought Obama was Muslim before the election. Understand what I’m dealing with here? Good, glad that’s clear.
Here’s some excerpts from a story about the first mistrial….
October 23, 2007
The U.S. Justice Department suffered a major setback in another high-profile terrorist prosecution Monday when its criminal case against five former officials of a now-defunct Islamic charity collapsed into a tangle of legal confusion.
U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish declared a mistrial, but not before it became clear that the government’s landmark terrorism finance case – and one of its most-costly post-9/11 prosecutions – was in serious trouble.
His decision came after jury verdicts were read to a packed courtroom indicating that none of the defendants had been found guilty on any of the 200 combined counts against them. Jurors had acquitted defendants on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists.
However, during routine polling of the jurors to determine that their votes were accurately reflected in the findings, two said they were not. When efforts to reconcile the surprise conflict failed, Fish declared the mistrial.
The case presented to a Texas jury of eight women and four men relied heavily on Israeli intelligence and involved disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by federal agents over a span of nearly 15 years.
[I’m sorry, but how is foreign intelligence colllected using Mossad tactics admissable in U.S./Texas courts? Just curious if anyone knows…]
Juror William Neal, 33, who said his father worked in military intelligence, said that the government’s case had “so many gaps” that he regarded the prosecution as “a waste of time.”
The jury forewoman, who like the other jurors was not identified, told the court she could not explain the positions of the two panelists. “When the vote was [taken]… no one spoke up” about any differences, she said. “I really don’t understand where it’s coming from… all 12 made that decision.”
The judge excused the jurors to work out the discrepancies. About 40 minutes later, they returned to court and the two female jurors both continued to maintain that their verdicts had not been tallied accurately.
As a result, Abdulqader’s acquittal on all counts was set aside, forcing him to face a potential retrial with the others.
Both women had been noted dozing off during court proceedings, and juror Neal said one of them also fell asleep during deliberations. The latter, he said, voted guilty from the beginning, was confused by the evidence and much of the time declined to participate in deliberations.
This is probably the part that kills me the most. Some idiot racist decided by looking at the defendants they were guilty and skipped the actual trial and evidence part (and that assumption of innocence). So the acquittal gets set aside, the government gets to play some Double Jeopardy, and do a better job picking idiots to the jury.
In 2004, the government alleged that Holy Land and its officials funneled about $12 million to Hamas through local charities called zakat committees. The government argued that from its inception Holy Land was intended to be a fundraising tool for Hamas, a contention that was never documented in court.
So it looks like the government argument here was very similar to the Bush Administration argument for invading Iraq; “Sure, these particular people didn’t attack us and aren’t a threat to us…but they sure do look like people who are.”
It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.
On the personal note, I grew up in Richardson, Texas, THE HOTBED OF TERRORIST FINANCING IN THE U.S.
No wonder I ended up being a flippin’ RobotPirateNinja, those were some hard streets.
Should I just turn myself in now? Or wait for them to come get me? After all, I am now it would seem, defending terrorists convicted for helping the poor and sickly.
Curious world Bush gave us.