Jurors told charity funds warriors

Muslim aid to refugees of holy wars includes help for mujahedeen

Worester Telegram

BOSTON— The same mujahedeen that three Muslims on trial in U.S. District Court are accused of funding were considered freedom fighters three decades ago.

Some Muslim charities in war-torn areas around the world do a lot more than care for refugees: They help fund the fighters behind the wars.
Those are the geopolitical realities eight men and seven women on the jury were exposed to yesterday when they thought all they had to consider were the tax fraud and false statement charges against a Shrewsbury man and two former Worcester men.
They were given a global tour of figures who have been in the news since terrorism — or freedom fighting — began shaping the headlines in the 1980s, compliments of Evan F. Kohlmann, one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys and lawyers for Muhamed Mubayyid, Emadeddin Z. Muntasser, and Samir Al-Monla, former officials of Care International, have been battling over whether Mr. Kohlmann can testify and what he could say when he did.

The mere mention of his Web site, globalterroralert.com, was enough to set Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV off on one of his frequent warnings to the jury: The case is not about 9-11 or terrorism and they should draw no inferences from the fact the defendants are Middle Eastern and Muslims, he said.

But the two sides forged on, making their points amid a blizzard of objections from the other side, with Judge Saylor at one point cutting off questioning on some of the most sensitive information.

Elizabeth A. Lunt, one of Mr. Muntasser’s lawyers, drew Mr. Kohlmann out at length about the enormity of the human suffering — the genocide, the millions of refugees — among the Muslims in the areas to which Care International sent money: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere.

The government says Care collected $1.7 million between 1993 and 2003.

And Ms. Lunt pointed out Care was not the only one sending money: the U.S. government provided billions of dollars to the mujahedeen in the 1980s, when they were considered freedom fighters driving the godless Soviets out of Afghanistan.

But under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty, Mr. Kohlmann pointed out Muslim charities in the areas where Muslim holy warriors are trying to reclaim Muslim land provide money “not just to refugees but to the fighters themselves.”

He said money funneled into mujahedeen staging areas such as Zagreb, Croatia, and Peshawar, Pakistan, comes from charities in North America and Europe.

That prompted the judge to tell jurors there is no charge Care was doing that. The charity officers are charged with failing to tell the Internal Revenue Service it supported holy war and that Care was an outgrowth of another non-tax exempt organization, Al-Kifah Refugee Center, which the defendants deny.

Mr. Kohlmann identified Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as the Pashtun Afghan warlord who leveled Kabul with rocket barrages designed to drive out Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud when the mujahedeen turned on each other after driving out the communists in the 1992 — and before the Taliban defeated both of them. Prosecutors have introduced an e-mail in which they said Mr. Muntasser and Mr. Al-Monla vowed allegiance to Mr. Hekmatyar in 1995.

Mr. Kohlmann also traced the so-called Arab-Afghan mujahedeen, who answered the call of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam to hot spots around the world where the fight of nationalist Muslims to reclaim their own land turned into religious jihad in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

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