FBI agent concludes direct examination (Oct. 2, 2008)

One of the first items presented to the jury on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 was a clip of a speech by Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian spiritual leader who fought alongside Afghanistanis against the Soviets during the late 1970s. In the 1987/1988 video, Hamas leader Azzam proclaimed passionately in Arabic, It is a duty for all Muslims to do jihad with their souls and money … I pray for the paralyzed man, a man who moves a generation, Ahmad Yasin … Oh children of Palestine, the opportunity to train you with weapons is open How does this relate to the Holy Land Foundation (HLF)? The video features a flashing request to send donations to the Occupied Land Fund (the original name of the HLF.)

The prosecution then played a tape of a 1990 event showing defendant Mohmmad El-Mezain referring to Azzam’s speech in which he encouraged all Muslims to abstain from refreshments one week and from meat another week. The money saved from abstaining from these items can be sent to Palestinians to help them fight the Israeli occupation.

The next video played was of defendant Mufid Abdulqader singing Patriotic Palestinian songs after which the audience chanted Khaybar Khaybar Ya Yahud, Jayshu Mohammad Sawfa Ya’ood. (Khaybar khaybar o Jew, the army of Mohammad shall return.) Khaybar is a city in Saudi Arabia where the Jews were exiled more than 1400 years ago upon breaking the peace treaty between them and the Muslims by attempting to assassinate the Prophet Mohammad.

For the next few hours, defendant Abdulqader was pushed toward the negative spotlight. During an interview with the FBI, Abduqader said he never worked with the HLF until 1995. Burns said his statement contradicts the videos showing him perform at events in the late 1980s and early 1990s that HLF founders Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker and Mohammad El-Mezain attended and raised money for the HLF.

In one of the only videos recorded after 1995, the year the U.S. government designated Hamas as a terrorist entity, Mufid sent out greetings to Hamas leaders Ahmad Yasin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Musa Abu Marzook. He also told the FBI he was a volunteer fundraiser who only got paid for travel expenses, and he did not discuss how much money the HLF raised. Burns also said this contradicted the many tapped phone conversations where Abduqader discusses the amount he raised in various cities.

Prosecutor Barry Jonas then went over a book seized by the FBI from HLF’s New Jersey office titled “A study of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas,” where Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin is quoted labeling Hamas’ security wing as the Palestinian Mujahedeen. Next, Jonas showed the jury a couple of checks to the HLF where donors say in a written note their money is for the Mujahedeen in Palestine. Burns also read aloud a few letters sent to the HLF that referred to Jihad and Mujaheddeen. In one letter, a man named Sultan Mohammad who sent a $25 donation said This is for weapons to crush the enemy and attack the West with nuclear weapons. Jonas asked Burns if the HLF accepted the donation. Yes, Burns replied. They added him to their donor’s list, and he sent a $95 donation a couple years later.

Burns talked about the faxes sent to defendant El-Mezain informing him of suicide bombings and the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. Jurors then listened to a phone call where defendant Abdulrahman Odeh calls one suicide bombing “a beautiful operation.” Jonas then showed the jury a photo clipping from an Arabic newspaper of Muslim scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi with alongside Hamas leader Khalid Mishal.

Prosecutors then play a couple of wiretapped phone calls between defendants Elashi and Abu-Baker. In one call, they talk about a Dallas Morning News editorial, which was written during the U.S. detainment of Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook. The editorial suggested that Abu Marzook be deported but not to Israel. Elashi was frustrated when he told Abu-Baker about several defamatory statements like this one: Cells of Hamas seem to be operating here in north Texas. and this one: Although Hamas helps run schools and hospitals in Palestine, they also habitually kill and blow things up. At this Elashi said, Does Israel not habitually kill and blow things up? Elashi and Abu-Baker concluded that editorial was fabricated by none other than Steven Emerson and the ADL.

Jonas and Burns spend the end of the day listing the zakat (charity) committees to which the HLF gave money: Islamic Society of Hebron, Nablus Zakat Committee, Tulkaram Zakat Committee, Jenin Zakat Committee, Ramallah Zakat Committee, Qalqilya Zakat Committee, Islamic Science and Culture Committee, Islamic Society of Gaza and Bethlehem Orphan Society. For each zakat committee, Jonas asked, Were the HLF transactions made before and after the U.S. designated Hamas as a terrorist entity in 1995? Burns’ reply: Yes.

[Note: Until today, none of the zakat committees in the HLF indictment have been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.]

Burns will likely conclude direct examination by Friday morning.

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