Second FBI agent continues testimony (Oct. 8, 2008)

Jurors wiggled around and rubbed their eyes but were mostly alert on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 as prosecutor Jim Jacks continued the direct examination of FBI agent Robert Miranda.

Jacks began the day by playing wiretapped conference calls organized by the Islamic Association of Palestine, where donors can listen to talks by international speakers and make donations to the Holy Land Foundation.

In a 1996 conference call, the speech of a spiritual leader from Pakistan can be summed up like this: This artificial state of Israel has been artificially planted in the Arab land … The Palestinians were ousted from their own homes … The Oslo agreement cannot work because this peace is not in just grounds … The Muslim people all over the world stand by the people who are struggling for the just right of the Palestinians under the leadership of Hamas.

Miranda then said the English conference calls featured speakers who were not affiliated with Hamas, while Arabic conference calls featured some Hamas speakers. Jacks played an Arabic conference call tapped by the FBI. During the beginning of the call, English country music tunes filled the courtroom for nearly a minute as the call’s moderator put the speaker on hold. At this, some jurors laugh silently. Next, they listened to an Arabic (Hamas) speaker praising Hamas leaders Yahya Ayash, Ahmad Yasin and Musa Abu Marzook.

“Has there been a reference to charity?” Jacks asked the witness regarding the conference calls.

“You have to be creative to find it,” Miranda replied.

In addition, prosecutors played a wiretapped phone call, where defendants Shukri Abu-Baker and Abdulrahman Odeh discussed denying a speaker from raising funds for the HLF. “The man collects flatly and publicly for Samah and her sisters,” Abu-Baker said, referring to Hamas as “Samah.” Throughout the call, Abu-Baker kept insisting, “I have nothing to do with him.”

Jurors then say a 1990 video where Hamas leaders Mohammad Siam, Mahmud Sahar and Jamil Hamami excitedly greet each other and speak at an event. How is the video related to the HLF, one might wonder. At the same event, defendant Mohammad El-Mezain spoke and defendant Mufid Abdulqader greeted the Hamas leaders.

For the next hour or so, Jacks attempted to discredit El-Mezain by saying that in a 2003 deposition, El-Mezain denied having a close relationship with leaders of Muslim-American groups including CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), UASR (United Association for Studies and Research) and IAP (Islamic Association of Palestine.)

Jacks spent the last half of the day addressing an issue he did not stress on during the 2007 HLF trial. Perhaps out of desperation, Jacks talked extensively about Infocom, a web-hosting company owned by defendant Ghassan Elashi and his brothers. (The Elashi brothers’ company was raided by the FBI six days before Sept. 11, 2001. Soon afterward, the Elashi brothers were arrested, tried in federal court, falsely convicted and thrown in prisons all over the nation where they served six to seven year sentences. Their wives were deported, tearing them apart from their American-born children. After serving their sentences, three of the five brothers will be deported.)

The Jacks-Miranda duo gave a rather peculiar argument. Both Infocom and the HLF changed their original names from ICC and Occupied Land Fund respectively. Both entities moved from Los Angeles, California to Richardson, Texas in 1992, where they were stationed across the street from each other. To Jacks and Miranda, these facts were indicators of a conspiracy.

Miranda ended the day by telling the jury about numerous transactions between Infocom and Musa Abu-Marzook, his wife and his son.

The court will not be in session Thursday, Oct. 9 and Monday, Oct. 13. The direct examination of Miranda will continue Tuesday, Oct. 14.

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