Agent testifies 5th day (August 2, 2007)

The now 16-member jury was more attentive on Thursday, August 2, 2007. With less fidgeting and mid-day snoozes, more eyes were open and looking at the documents that the United States government lawyers displayed on screens. Some eyes even moved toward U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish, who overruled almost all of the defense teams’ objections to admitting the irrelevant exhibits presented by the government. Yet again, prosecutor Jim Jacks used his desperate mechanism of reiteration to get messages across to the jury.

Government lawyers briefly paused the direct examination of FBI agent Lara Burns to direct examine Paul Matulic, the foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch. Prosecutor Barry Jonas asked Matulic about two faxes from Hamas that he received in 1995. Both faxes were letters from a Hamas member asking Hatch’s office to help with the release of Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook, who was arrested after arriving at JFK airport in New York a few months before the letters were sent. Both letters also stated that Abu Marzook’s arrest was motivated by politics. After receiving the faxes, Matulic said he informed the FBI, the police and Department of State. He said there was a threat in the first letter that went like this: “Repercussion could ensue as a result.”

Ghassan Elashi’s lawyer, Linda Moreno, was the only attorney to cross-examine Matulic. She made clear that Matulic and the rest of Hatch’s office never replied to the faxes. She asked him if he knew that Abu Marzook had been living in the U.S. and in fact had a Green Card. He replied by saying: I do not recall that. He answered the same way when he was told that Abu Marzook was never criminally charged in the U.S. and was eventually released and left peacefully. She concluded by asking him if he was aware that Israel withdrew its request for extradition of Abu Marzook. Matulic said he was not aware of that either.

Jacks then continued the direct examination of Burns for the fifth day. He displayed a timeline reiterating exhibits shown to the jury on Wednesday, which were some phone calls and transactions made between Hamas leaders and the defendants.

Jacks then played an audio file of a 1996 interview between defendant Shukri Abu-Baker and a journalist discussing Abu Marzook. The reporter said Abu Marzook’s attorney denied that his client made a $10,000 contribution to the Holy Land Foundation. Abu-Baker said he remembers receiving the donation. The journalist also said the FBI found Abu-Baker’s home phone number with Abu-Marzook after he was arrested in New York. Abu-Baker replied by saying that a lot of people have his number.

Burns discussed a book about Jihad that was seized from the New Jersey office of the HLF. She also read aloud an interview between an Israeli reporter and Hamas founder Ahmad Yasin.

The government then played several videos. One clip showed a Palestinian at a grassroots protest singing the following in Arabic: Everyday there is confrontation, we face the enemy’s attack with our bare chests. We perform jihad against our enemy with stones. We will protect our children, who are pieces of our hearts, by jihad.

Another clip showed a speech by prominent Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. In his speech, Haniyeh said: The Israelis are celebrating Eid by killing people in the Gaza Strip. It was reported that the oppressive Israeli occupied forces killed four martyrs. Let’s celebrate the martyrdom of our Palestinian brothers.

[In reality: In Islam, all martyrs go to Heaven.]

Another video began by displaying an image of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and playing this song: Madeenatun La Ta’riful Hudood (Jerusalem is a city that knows no boundaries.) Another video showed interviews with several Hamas members who were arrested in 1993 by the Israeli government and dropped in the middle of a desert in southern Lebanon.

[In reality: The United Nations and the American Red Cross were among the many groups who later pressured the Israeli government to return them to occupied Palestine.]

And yet another clip showed a staged performance of some individuals doing the dabka, or a traditional Arabic dance, while singing Ya Hamas, Hamilini El Bunduqiya (Oh Hamas, Hand me a shot gun.) Another clip showed a band singing Alintifada Mustamira Hata Takoon El Arda Hura (The Intifada will continue until our land is freed).

Toward the end of the day, Jacks asked Burns to discuss the Philadelphia meeting, an October 1993 gathering with several individuals — including some of the defendants. In this meeting, they discussed the Oslo peace accord between then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ishaq Rabin.

Burns said the meeting was under surveillance by the FBI. Jacks then displayed a few photos taken that October of defendants who attended the meeting. Jacks then displayed several documents pertaining to this conference including credit card bills, plane tickets and room registration cards. Burns concluded by reading aloud tapped phone conversations — between some of the attendees — that took place about a month before the meeting.

After another long day of direct examination with Burns, many say they have not yet seen any evidence proving that the HLF supported violent acts.

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