FBI agent testifies a 3rd day (August 29, 2007)

Greg Westfall, defendant Abdulrahman Odeh’s attorney, stood tall in a dark suit and black cowboy boots on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 as he continued cross-examining FBI agent Lara Burns. Many in the courtroom — including the 15-member jury and U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish — seemed relieved when prosecutors announced that the government could rest its case as early as Thursday, August, 30.

Westfall began the day by going over numerous foreign bank records of some zakat committees in occupied Palestine. The bank records showed that the money went toward charity — not violence. Westfall also made it clear that the payments were easy to follow and trace. Westfall then asked, So we know that the HLF sent money to zakat committees and that money was received by people they say it was received by, correct? Burns did not deny the obvious, so she replied by saying That’s right.

Next to cross-examine Burns was Josh Dratel, defendant Mohammad El-Mezain’s lawyer. He began by reading a document that stated one zakat committee’s achievements, which included the following: assisted thousands of families, helped orphans, aided poor students and provided medical treatment. One specific document showed a zakat committee requesting the funding of several medical items from the HLF such as surgical suction units, stretchers, ambulances, universal operating tables and anesthesia trolleys. Dratel then displayed several letters from zakat committees thanking the HLF for its services. Dratel concluded by discussing Baruch Goldstein’s massacre, where a Jewish-American doctor entered the Ibrahimi mosque in the West Bank town of Hebron and shot to death 29 Palestinian worshipers in 1994. Dratel then proved that not all martyrs are terrorists, like the prosecutors have tried to prove in the HLF case. He said, The 29 worshipers shot by Baruch Goldstein entered a mosque and were killed. That’s how they became martyrs.

Defendant Shukri Abu-Baker’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, cross-examined Burns next. She asked Burns about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The Israeli law states that Palestinians can be detained for up to six months without being charged, Hollander said. Burns’ response: I’m not an expert on Israeli law. For nearly two hours, Hollander discussed payments from the HLF to some zakat committees. She specifically talked about HLF’s payment of about $200,000 toward a food project in Palestine during one of the holy month of Ramadan in 2000. Hollander then discredited the FBI-made charts, which listed the transactions between the HLF and some zakat committees. The chart did not show the entire HLF payment for the Ramadan project, which implied that the chart was incomplete. During direct examination, Burns testified that HLF money became almost impossible to trace after the payments went through “Hamas” moneychangers in occupied Palestine. By displaying more than a dozen documents, Hollander concluded the day by proving that the moneychangers did more than exchange currency. They were involved in a few projects, such as the Ramadan project.

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