November 21, 2010
Federal Judge: Terror trial evidence creates "a prima facie case as to CAIR's involvment in a conspiracy to support Hamas" (Bumped)
A federal judge's decision about the legality of making public a list of unindicted co-conspirators filed by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial has been released following an order published last month by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to do so. The unsealed legal memorandum and order was in response to a motion filed by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to have themselves removed from the unindicted co-conspirator list.
Their efforts to have their names cleared by claiming they never had an opportunity to respond to the government's listing them as conspirators appears to have been a Pyrrhic victory as the ruling by Judge Jorge Solis lays out the government's evidence that the groups did in fact conspire to support Hamas. In the ruling Solis finds:
The Government identifies four portions of the record from the first trail that purportedly established that CAIR was a "joint venturer and co-conspirator": (1) a Government exhibit showing the objective of the Palestine Committee is to support Hamas; (2) a Government exhibit showing CAIR founder Omar Ahmad is part of the Palestine Committee and Mousa Abu Marzook is its head; (3) a Government exhibit listing CAIR as part of the Palestine Committee; and (4) the testimony of Special Agent Lara Burns and accompanying exhibits placing the CAIR founder at the 1993 Philadelphia conference and describing the CAIR founder's mediation of a dispute between HLF and Ashqar over Hamas fundraising . (Resp. at 12-13.) The Government does not mention any occasion where it used the 801(d)(2)(E) hearsay exception to introduce a statement of CAIR. The four pieces of evidence the government relies on, as discussed below, do create at least a prima facie case as to CAIR's involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas. (p. 6-7)
Judge Solis then spends several pages (pp. 14-19) laying out the evidence against ISNA, NAIT and CAIR concerning their active support of HLF's fundraising for Hamas. He rules that while the list of unindicted co-conspirators should be sealed, their names should not be expunged.
When the 5th Circuit ruling was published last month ordering the unsealing of Judge Solis' order, CAIR issued a press release claiming that they had been vindicated, but in fact, the appeals court said just the opposite. While the 5th Circuit said that the unindicted co-conspirator list should not have been made public and that Judge Solis didn't need to go the lengths he did to resolve the Fifth Amendment question, they refused to vacate his findings. Rather, the appeals court endorsed them, finding that the trial evidence proved ISNA, NAIT and CAIR's direct involvement in the conspiracy to support Hamas, saying that the Government had "produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (‘IAP’), and with Hamas," and that, "The Muslim Brotherhood supervised the creation of the ‘Palestine Committee,’ which was put in charge of other organizations, such as HLF, IAP, UASR, and ISNA," and, "During the [1993 Philadelphia] conference, Palestine Committee members discussed using ISNA as official cover for their activities."
Cries of Islamophobia will commence in 5...4...3...
UPDATE: Gerstein makes this observation:
Just in passing, I'd note that the New York Times reported back in August 2007 on the groups' legal motions complaining that they'd been smeared by the federal government. The paper has yet to return to the subject.
I bet they won't be returning to it anytime soon, especially now.
Thanks to Zip for the link.
The ruling itself is below the fold: