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Charity guilty of funding terror

A Muslim charity and five of its former leaders have been convicted of funding 
the Palestinian militant group Hamas, designated a terrorist group in the US.

Jurors reached the guilty verdict after eight days of deliberations in the 
retrial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

The group - once the largest US Muslim charity - was accused of giving more 
than $12m (£8m) to support Hamas.

It was the largest terrorism financing trial since the 9/11 attacks.

The former head of the charity, Ghassan Elashi, and the former chief executive, 
Shukri Abu-Baker, were convicted of 69 counts including money laundering and 
tax fraud.

Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh were convicted on three counts of 
conspiracy, and Mohammed El-Mezain was convicted on one count of conspiracy to 
support a terrorist organisation.

The Holy Land group was convicted on 32 counts. A sentencing date has yet to be 

Frozen assets

Hamas was designated by the US as a terrorist group in 1995, making 
contributions to the group illegal.

The prosecution argued that Hamas controlled the charities to which $12.4m was 
sent between 1995 and 2001.

The indictment against the group said it sponsored orphans and families in the 
West Bank and Gaza whose relatives had died or been imprisoned as a result of 
Hamas attacks on Israel.

The Texas-based charity was shut down and had its assets frozen in 2001, as 
part of the clampdown that followed the 11 September attacks on New York and 

The charity said it ran a legitimate operation helping Muslim families. Holy 
Land's supporters accused the US government of politicising the case as part of 
its so-called "war on terror".

A previous trial against Holy Land ended last year in some confusion with the 
jury deadlocked, prompting a mistrial verdict and a subsequent retrial.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/11/24 22:06:59 GMT


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