IPT on the Holy Land Foundation Convictions
The Investigative Project has details on the strategy adjustments that allowed prosecutors to get convictions in the Hamas funding trial of the Holy Land Foundation Islamic charity: HLF Officials Convicted on All Counts.
Prosecutors made a series of significant adjustments, from dropping 29 counts each against defendants Mufid Abdulqader and Abdelrahman Odeh, to adding new witnesses who could put the charity support in context. In addition, jurors in this trial saw three exhibits Israeli military officials seized from the Palestinian Authority which showed the PA also considered HLF to be a Hamas financer and that an HLF-supported charity committee was controlled by Hamas.
The result was a much more streamlined case that followed a logical narrative, said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Seeing the Palestinian Authority reach the same conclusion as the U.S. government had to have helped, he said.
In addition, prosecutors provided summary exhibits that served as “a road map” to the case and had to help jurors deliberate, Margulies said. “The jury was able to look at the evidence and get past the perceived biases of any of the witnesses and see the evidence as a whole.”
That evidence made clear that the defendants knew where the money raised in the U.S. was going despite legal prohibitions against support for Hamas.
The verdict was hailed by M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Prosecutors prevailed because they were able to “connect the ideology of political Islam and the overriding mission of Islamist organizations like the HLF to their desire to contribute to the efforts of terror groups, like Hamas,” he said. “When this connection is made we will see the return of a guilty verdict. In future [terrorism financing] cases DOJ will not only have to connect the financial dots but [will have] to demonstrate an overarching common Islamist mission.”