Government Lays Out Financial Connections in HLF Case

by IPT
IPT News
August 29, 2007

Dallas—FBI agent Lara Burns remained on the stand Tuesday as the government continued to detail the ties between Holy Land Foundation (HLF) officials and charity committees they funded. Prosecutors must prove that the defendants knew the millions of dollars they funneled from the HLF to the Middle East were really going to Hamas.

During the last two days exhibits outlining both financial and ideological ties between HLF directors and their beneficiaries overseas were entered. The prosecution highlighted the fact that many transactions came well after both January 1995, when President Clinton issued an Executive Order formally naming Hamas as a terrorist organization (making it a criminal act to assist Hamas in any capacity) and its 1997 designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

A 1991 letter found in the home of unindicted co-conspirator Ismail Elbarasse[1] to defendant Shukri Abu Baker was discussed Monday. The letter spoke of the Zakat Committees, described by an earlier government witness as:

HAMAS' most effective tool… they build grassroots support for the organization…(and) provide a logistical support mechanism to the terrorism wing by providing day jobs to HAMAS terrorists.

The letter breaks down for Abu Baker, who was the Executive Director of HLF, the Zakat Committees by their connections.

For example, next to "Qalqilia Zakat Co." it is written: "all of it is ours and it is guaranteed."

As the prosecution introduced various documents from the committees and charities, such references in the letter became one of several factors establishing the relationship between HLF and each Zakat committee discussed. In the case of the Qalqilia Zakat Committee, there was also:

-- Financial documentation showing HLF funds being sent from February 20, 1992 to October 28, 2001 with a total of $289,185.

-- A 1997 letter from Qalqilia Zakat to HLF discussing distributing HLF money to "families of martyrs and orphans." signed by Ibrahim ‘Abd-Al-Rahim Da'ud aka Ibrahim ‘Abd-Al-Rahim Mohamed. In addition to dual names, he wears two hats, chairman of the Zakat fund Committee/Qalqilia and a Hamas leader in Qalqilia.

Other evidence submitted showed how HLF supported the family of infamous Hamas master bomb maker, Yehya Ayyash aka The Engineer. Ayyash was behind numerous suicide bombing operations until his assassination on January 6, 1996. The Palestine Committee's own U.S. based Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) Information Office reported on Ayyash via at least two intercepted faxes from 1994 and 1995.

There is an intercepted phone call between two of the HLF defendants Abdulrahman Odeh and Muhammad El Mezain lamenting Ayyash's death:

Odeh: I just heard that they assassinated Yehia Ayyash

Mezain: Who did that?

Odeh: You know Yehia Ayyash, The Engineer in Palestine

Mezain: Where was he hit?

Odeh: In Gaza.

Mezain: May God have mercy on him, my friend.

Odeh: I didn't know if you heard or not.

Mezain: May God have mercy and give him good things.

Financial records also show that Odeh, was personally sponsoring Ayyash's family.

Under cross examination, Agent Burns conceded that HLF also uses their funds to help those who were not connected to martyrs or prisoners. Cross by the defense is expected to continue through Wednesday with the first witness for the defense potentially going on the stand Thursday morning.

Ismail Elbarrase was also a representative of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an officer of the Palestine Committee and shared a bank account with Hamas political leader, Musa Abu Marzook.


[1] Ismail Elbarrase was also a representative of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an officer of the Palestine Committee and shared a bank account with Hamas political leader, Musa Abu Marzook.

Check out our extensive coverage of the HLF trial and the issues surrounding it. The IPT has been providing the nation's primary source of news coverage on this trial, which is the largest terrorist financing trial in the history of the United States.

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