Muslim Charity, Officials Indicted
Holy Land lawyer Boyd said in his six-page letter to Justice's inspector general on Monday that the Watson memo was riddled with deliberate falsehoods and mistranslations of underlying documents. One example, he said, was a translation of a statement by Holy Land's West Bank manager, Mohammed Anati, to the effect that the foundation spent most of its money on charity but gave some of it to Hamas.
"It turned out that Anati's admission did not appear in the Hebrew statement the FBI relied on," Boyd wrote. "It only appeared in what appears to be a falsified, anonymous translation of that statement that the FBI used to support its case."
Boyd also cited the Watson memo's statement that one example of Holy Land's ties to Hamas was its financial support for the Razi Hospital, which the FBI says is a Hamas affiliate. "Our government also provided assistance to the Al Razi Hospital through the U.S. Agency for International Development, a fact omitted from the Watson memo," he wrote.
"Holy Land not only had nothing to do with Hamas, it assiduously avoided Hamas," Boyd added. "The result of the FBI's conduct is that an apparently innocent organization is destroyed."
The indictment cited transcripts of surreptitious FBI tapes made of a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia of Holy Land and Hamas officials. The purpose, the indictment said, was to plan how to sabotage peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and "to decide how to conceal their activities from the U.S. government." They agreed on "masquerading their operations under the cloak" of charity, it said.
Overseeing Hamas's suicide bombing campaign and its charitable work is Hamas's political bureau in Syria, run by Khalid Mishal and Mousa Abu Marzook, the indictment said.
It added that several of the indicted Holy Land officials are related to these two Hamas leaders: Defendant Mohammad El-Mezain, Holy Land's first chairman and later its endowments director, is Marzook's cousin; defendant Ghassan Elashi, its chairman, is related to Marzook by marriage; defendant Akram Mishal, formerly its project and grants director, is Mishal's cousin; and defendant Mufid Abdulqader, a top fundraiser, is Mishal's half-brother.
Besides these four defendants and Abu Baker, who are in the United States, the other two charged were Haitham Maghawri and Abdulrahman Odeh. Mishal and Maghawri are not in this country and are considered fugitives.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Shukri Abu Baker, co-founder and chief executive of the Holy Land charity, is among those charged.
Video: Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a 42-count indictment against the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity group accused of aiding a terrorist organization.
Indictment (U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development)