CAIR: CASE AGAINST ISLAMIC CHARITY OPENS
Federal prosecutors opened their case yesterday against what was once the nation's largest Islamic charity, arguing in a Dallas courtroom that the organization funneled at least $12 million to Palestinian militants.
The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation was shut down by President Bush three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It is accused of knowing that the money it sent to charities in the Middle East benefited Hamas, the militant Palestinian group officially designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Administration officials say the trial is an important battle in the fight to cut off funding to terrorists.
But the case is also drawing intense scrutiny in the American Muslim community because of a listing of 300 individuals and groups named in the indictment as unindicted co-conspirators, including established organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Parvez Ahmed, chairman of CAIR's national board, called the unusual list a "broad smear" and added, "We're being accused of something, but what we're being accused of, I don't know."
Prosecutors told jurors yesterday that the foundation and five organizers -- all but one are U.S. citizens -- sent at least $12 million to "zakat" committees controlled by Hamas. Zakat is a required form of the charitable giving that is one of the pillars of Islam.