Double-jeopardy claimed in Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

Attorneys for a defendant in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss the charges against their client because they say FBI testimony tainted the jury by treading too closely to his prior convictions.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis is expected to rule on whether to drop the case against Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former board chairman and co-founder, on double jeopardy-grounds by Tuesday, when the trial resumes after Monday’s federal holiday for Columbus Day.

Judge Solis denied oral requests made late Wednesday by attorneys for all five defendants for a mistrial and to have their cases severed from Mr. Elashi’s. If Judge Solis deems that charges should be dropped against Mr. Elashi, the trial of the other four would presumably continue, but that was not completely clear Wednesday evening.

At issue was testimony Wednesday afternoon by FBI Special Agent Robert Miranda about InfoCom, Mr. Elashi’s former computer services company that he ran with his four brothers.

Under questioning from prosecutor Jim Jacks, Agent Miranda told jurors that InfoCom did business with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, whom the U.S. government has designated a terrorist.
Mr. Elashi is serving nearly seven years in prison for convictions in 2004 and 2005 related to InfoCom. One of those convictions found that Mr. Elashi conspired with Mr. Marzook to launder at least a quarter-million dollars through InfoCom.

Mr. Elashi and four other former Holy Land Foundation organizers are currently on trial on charges that they funneled more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Jurors have not been told that Mr. Elashi had prior convictions for his dealings with Mr. Marzook. But the government on Wednesday showed jurors financial transactions between InfoCom and Mr. Marzook in order to bolster their contention that Holy Land was linked to the Hamas leader.
Testimony is expected to resume in the case Tuesday morning.

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