A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what was widely seen as the government’s flagship terrorism-financing case after prosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslim charity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197 counts.
The case, involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its backers, is the government’s largest and most complex legal effort to shut down what it contends is American financing for terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
President Bush announced he was freezing the charity’s assets in December 2001, saying that the radical Islamic group Hamas had “obtained much of the money it pays for murder abroad right here in the United States.”
But at the trial, the government did not accuse the foundation, which was based in a Dallas suburb, of paying directly for suicide bombings. Instead, the prosecution said, the foundation supported terrorism by sending more than $12 million to charitable groups, known as zakat committees, which build hospitals and feed the poor. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — This is a vindication for the principle that democracy depends on the separation of powers. Those in the executive branch of government who obviously feel more comfortable with a totalitarian concentration of power will however be disappointed that most of the jury reached the “wrong” verdict and that in doing so they may have been influenced by a former American consul general in Jerusalem. That the defendents would regard this as having been “an Israeli trial tried on American soil,” is not surprising, yet when a jury member says of the trial, “it seems political to me,” noting that the prosecution’s key witness was paid by the Israeli government to testify, it seems reasonable to ask, who is our government working for? And when what had been the largest Muslim charity in the United States gets put on trial there seems little reason to wonder why so many Muslims, and others, see the war on terrorism as a war on Islam.