Three witnesses in one day (Oct. 15, 2008)

Prosecutor Jim Jacks brought up a few more security documents that were not found in the HLF offices on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 as he continued direct examining FBI agent Robert Miranda a fourth day. The supposed security documents were found in homes of individuals who are not defendants in the HLF case. Jacks displayed a document showing that the HLF got a counter-surveillance sweep at their Richardson office. The next attempt of the Jacks-Miranda duo was to discredit defendant Shukri Abu-Baker by showing the jury a visa application to Saudi Arabia that Abu-Baker applied for as an employee of Infocom, a web-hosting company owned by defendant Ghassan Elashi and his brothers. Miranda reinforced that Abu-Baker was never an employee of Infocom.

Jacks then reviewed a chart summarizing the familial relationships between the defendants and the Hamas officials. They concluded direct examination by discussing a few charts created by the government that linked HLF activities with the undated, unauthored so-called security document brought up Tuesday.

John Cline—who represents defendant Ghassan Elashi—was the first of five attorneys to cross-examine Miranda. He emphasized that there were no copies of the “security document” located at the HLF offices and no fingerprints found on the document. And HLF officials did not follow the guidelines set forth in the document, he said, after which he gave some examples. The document suggested that individuals avoid talking about meeting times over the phone and avoid meeting in hotel rooms. But attendees talked regularly on the phone concerning the time of the Philadelphia meeting, where a group of Arab-American intellectuals met to discuss worldly affairs at a Philadelphia hotel in 1993. The document also suggested that some faxes be encrypted, but the FBI found not one encrypted fax related to the HLF.

In addition, not a single individual on the so-called speakers list that included speakers who helped raise funds for the HLF was ever designated as a terrorist by the U.S. government. Jamal Abu-Baker, the brother of Shukri Abu-Baker, is not on the list of designated terrorists either. As for Khalid Mishal, he was not designated until 2003. Cline pointed out that Miranda recommended to an FBI agent in sprint 2002—six months after the HLF’s closure in spring 2002—that Mishal be designated because it would be crucial to the HLF case. Miranda also suggested that Jamil Hamami be designated. That’s the same Hamami who was ex-communicated by Hamas and invited by the U.S. to speak. However, Miranda’s attempt was unsuccessful since Hamami was never designated. Nadia Elashi, the wife of Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook, is also not on the U.S. Treasury Department’s designated list. He concluded by asking Miranda this question: None of the zakat committees listed on the HLF indictment were ever on the list of designated terrorists, correct? Miranda’s reply: Correct.

Defense attorney Nancy Hollander—who represents Shukri Abu-Baker—was next to cross-examine Miranda. She clarified that although the government labeled all the wiretapped phone calls made through Abu-Baker’s home and office as “Baker wiretap,” Abu-Baker wasn’t always the one making and receiving the calls. Hollander’s cross-examination was then put on pause, like it was several days ago. This time’s reason: To make room for the quick testimonies of two government witnesses with busy schedules.

Seventh Witness

The government’s next witness was Steve Simon, a professor and a former employee of the State Department and National Security Council (NSC.) Simon, who undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, Princeton and Harvard, said the Palestinian Authority was trying to build trust among the Israeli government to move things along in the peace process, but terrorist attacks kept undermining the trust. He briefly talked about the American government’s “powerful interest” in securing oil in the Middle East. He concluded by saying that while he was at the NSC from 1994 to 1999, there was a concern about Arab resentment against the U.S.

Joshua Dratel—who represents defendant Mohammad El-Mezain—was the only defense attorney to cross-examine Simon. There are many reasons behind the resentment of the American government by Arabs and many others around the globe, Dratel said. One reason is because the U.S. government supports Israel. Another reason, he said, was because the “Israeli government could have influence over the U.S.” An essential reason is because of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And because the 1948 creation of Israel left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced. And because of the settlements in the occupied territories and the detention and torture of several thousands of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons without being charged. Simon addressed Jewish-American doctor Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians praying in a mosque in Hebron. This was “an act of a deranged person” and was not repeated, Simon said. Many in the courtroom silently chuckled at this statement. His last statement caused my jaws to drop: There “wasn’t any humanitarian crisis” in Palestine throughout the 1990s while he was working at NSC.

Joe Hummel, who was one of the FBI agents who arrested Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook in 1995, was the next government witness to take the stand. Hummel is currently the director of investigative services of the National Football League, but he was an FBI agent from 1983 to 2006. He was part of the team that arrested Abu Marzook minutes after landing at the JFK Airport in New York. He was asked what he was doing in the U.S., but he was being evasive, Hummel said. The FBI asked Abu Marzook numerous times if he brought any paperwork and he repeatedly told them he had not. After his interrogation, he was briefly reunited with his family in a room at the airport. It was at that point that Hummel said his partner found a briefcase with financial records, college diplomas and birth certificates. He lied about not having paperwork, so we had his family searched, Hummel said. Abu Marzook’s wife, Nadia Elashi, had his phone book—a document that was presented a dozen times throughout the HLF retrial.

John Cline—the only defense attorney to cross-examine Hummel—made clear that Abu Marzook traveled to the U.S. under a valid re-entry form. He also previously lived the U.S., where he got his Ph.D. and filed tax returns. In addition, Cline asked Hummel whether the government of Israel had any input on the arrest of Abu Marzook’s arrest. I have no personal knowledge, Hummel replied.

Nancy Hollander continued to cross-examine Miranda. She said that lots of relatives including children and grandparents were part of the wiretapped phone conversations between defendant Abu-Baker and his brother Jamal Abu-Baker. Last week, Miranda said ““You have to be creative to find” a reference to charity in the conference calls that were used to raise funds for the HLF. Hollander then read aloud a segment a lecture by one speaker: I send you my greeting of our steadfast Paletinian people, who still soffer under the detested Israeli occupation and its unjust practice in confiscating land of our people to build settlements for strangers … while a day doesn’t pass when Israeli bulldozers destroy the homes of people under the excuse of having no permits … The still holds over 5,000 detainees … The Israeli occupation carries out these deeds even though it signed accords and agreements with the Palestinian Authority.

She then asked, It’s not illegal to listen to Hamas-related talks, correct? Miranda’s response: No. She concluded: It’s not a crime to express political views, right?> Miranda said, “Probably not.”

Greg Westfall—who represents defendant Abdulrahaman Odeh—said his client is not a Muslim Brotherhood member, he was not a board member of HLF’s board, he was not in the 1993 Philadelphia meeting and his name did not appear in Abu Marzook’s phone book. He also clarified that lots of speakers sponsored orphans. In addition, the HLF did not use the entire list of speakers to raise funds, he said. Miranda admit he did not know where in the HLF offices many of the documents were found.

Miranda will likely conclude his testimony on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008.

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