PROTESTING THE PROSECUTION
Holy Land 5
FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 07-09
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Big Brother AT&T
Courts & Education
Socialists or Satanists?
Target Planned Parenthood
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
A Jewish Anarchist
Tyranny of Oil
OFF THE TABLE
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Z PAPERS ON VISION & STRATEGY
Gabriel matthew Schivone
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The Holy Land Foundation Case
As the five defendants of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case were being sentenced May 27 in Dallas, Texas, many members of the local Muslim community came together to rally outside the Federal building. They held a banner that read "Feeding children is not a crime" and wore black shirts with the words "Free the Holy Land Five."
Three of the five men, ranging in age from 49 to 58, received the maximum sentence possible. Ghassan Elashi received 65 years on 35 counts; Shukri Abu Baker received 65 years on 34 counts; Mohammad El-Mezain was given 15 years on a single count; Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh, received 20 years and 15 years respectively, each on 3 counts. All the defendants have filed notices of appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This has now become the largest terrorism financing case in the United States since 9/11—and the most disputed.
In this landmark case, United States v. Holy Land Foundation, the Holy Land Five were convicted on 108 counts of "material support of terrorist organizations," money laundering, and tax fraud—for sending money, food, clothing, medical and school supplies to Zakat committees which support Palestinian charities in the Middle East through the Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation.
The Holy Land Foundation, a U.S. charity founded in the 1980s, became the largest Muslim charity in the United States. After 9/11, the Bush administration said that the charity was funding Hamas and would shut it down by executive order. Since records taken from the charity showed that no supplies went to Hamas and audits of the charity couldn't support claims that the group funded Hamas, a new definition of material support for terrorists was created.
In 2004, the Bush administration claimed that there was a conspiracy to support Hamas because the charities that the Holy Land Foundation gave material goods to were controlled by Hamas. When Israel launched "Defensive Shield" in 2002, the charities were raided and identified as "Hamas controlled" because they had posters of Hamas leaders, which were prevalent in Gaza at the time. The U.S. government said this was a crime because Hamas didn't have to use any of their own funds to win over the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and on July 23, 2007 it brought the Holy Land Five to court.
Evidence normally has to meet all such rules in court, including relevance, materiality, competence, and foundation. If the evidence doesn't meet these criteria, then it cannot be shown to the jury. Yet, the government argued that in order to prove a conspiracy theory, the regular procedures for rules of evidence did not have to be met to prove their case.
The First Trial
According to Khalil Meek, president and CEO of Muslim Legal Fund of America, prosecutors used evidence of video footage from HLF fundraisers in 1988, 1989, and 1990 that showed members singing old folk songs that portrayed Hamas in a positive light. This was before the Clinton administration designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 1995.
Meek said the prosecution claimed that the Holy Land Five lied on their taxes because they claimed the money was a donation for charity when it was actually "material support for terrorists."
The defense pointed out that the Zakat committees to which the Holy Land Foundation gave the money were not listed as terrorist organizations on the government's Specially Designated Terrorist Organizations list and that the United States Agency for International Development was giving supplies to the same charities within the same time period (through 2004) .
Edward Abington, former U.S. Consul General stationed in Jerusalem in the late 1990s and a senior official for the U.S. State Department, testified on behalf of the defense. He said he got daily CIA briefings on security threats in the region and was never informed that Hamas controlled the Palestinian charity groups, or Zakat committees, to which Holy Land donated money.
During the deliberations, the jury had asked Judge Joe A. Fish if any demonstrative exhibits, or persuasive arguments put together by lawyers that cannot be used by the jury to make their deliberations, had accidently become mixed in with the evidence and sent back to the deliberation room. The judge then asked both the prosecution and the defense if they knew of any demonstrative exhibits missing that might have made it into evidence and after both councils said they knew nothing, the judge had deemed that all the material the jury had to deliberate with was evidence.
Despite the confusion, the jury came back not guilty. But after the verdict was sealed for three days because the judge was out of town, three of the jurors changed their minds when polled after the verdict was finally read. A mistrial was declared and the defendants were to be retired after one year. Meek said that it was later discovered that a 200-page demonstrative exhibit of the prosecution had made it into evidence and was used by the jury to make their deliberations.
Demonstrators outside a Dallas courtroon in October 2007—photo from h4jusa.com
The Second Trial
In the retrial the prosecution used tactics that have never before been used in an American courtroom—all allowed by Judge Jorge A. Solis.
Government witness Atef Shafik, a senior language analyst for the FBI, made the argument that Muslims using common phrases that refer to peace and God are terrorists because the phrases reveal that they are Islamists and this makes them part of the Muslim Brotherhood, a shadowy anti-Israel organization that supposedly calls for the destruction of Western civilization from within in order to replace it with an Islamic society. Defense attorney Theresa Duncan said Shafik's words expressed pure bigotry and were clearly "an attack on Islam."
According to an article by Bob Sanders in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, the prosecution presented unsigned and unauthored documents seized in a raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization that the defense was not allowed to see. The items were introduced through an unnamed Israeli soldier who was not present when the items were seized.
The court also allowed evidence from selective declassification from wiretapping records. If the government is to use wiretapping surveillance evidence in court, it is procedure to declassify all records pertaining to the case so that the defendant may see all of their statements. Yet, in this trial, the records were not entirely declassified and the government denied the defendants access to their own recorded statements.
Edward Abington's testimony also changed in the retrial, as the CIA forbade him from making any references to the agency or to the specific information revealed to him in the briefings, according to an article by Jason Trahan in the Dallas Morning News.
The prosecution also showed the jury inflammatory evidence, biased in nature and not relevant to the case: various photos depicting violence perpetrated by Hamas, such as pictures of the aftermath of suicide bombings and little kids dressed up as suicide bombers.
The most striking of all was the use of an anonymous Israeli secret agent, "Avi." He testified at length as an expert and was used to tie together all of the prosecution's highly questionable evidence. Because "Avi" did not have to give his name, he did not have to worry about perjury charges.
The government also published a list of 300 unindicted co-conspirators consisting of major mainstream Muslim organizations. According to Meek, the list was initially meant to be private, but went public after the government published it with the indictment in official public records. With the public told that the heads of these organizations are terrorists, the implications are staggering.
If the appeals made by the defense fail to win in court, the outcome of the case will essentially link Islam to terrorism in an unprecedented and very permanent way. This case would make the stigma attached to Muslims official, as many prominent Islamic organizations are listed as co-conspirators simply based on the nature of their faith and their empathy towards the plight of the Palestinian people.
Noor Elashi, journalist and daughter of defendant Ghassan Elashi, has vowed to clear her father's name: "This community should come together and should stay together because one thing that the government wants is for us to be broken apart. When the government sees how strong we are they cannot come attack us anymore."
In a "Democracy Now!" interview, Elashi said: "From the very beginning of the case, the media coverage has been very biased, including many Israeli bloggers and people obviously anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian in the news articles."
The context of this case is critically important for the American public to understand in such times. We must continue to recognize prejudice and persecution and stand against injustice. Describing the impact of the sentencing to the Richardson Muslim community, Elashi said, "Today does not mark the end; rather it marks the beginning of the human and civil rights era for Muslims in America."
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.