|NO CASH FOR TERROR
Convictions Returned in Holy Land Case
The FBI’s fight against terrorism funding paid a big dividend yesterday when five former leaders of a U.S.-based Muslim charity were convicted of funneling more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Guilty verdicts on all 108 counts against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development were announced in federal court in Dallas, Texas, representing the largest victory against terrorist financing in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks.
The FBI first got involved in the Holy Land case nearly 15 years ago. In 1994, we began looking into the organization’s financial ties to Hamas. During the investigation, our agents traveled the globe to conduct more than 100 interviews, to sort through hundreds of boxes of documents (including many Arabic documents), to view hundreds of video and audio tapes in Arabic, and to review thousands of pages of bank records.
Noting that the FBI's top investigative priority is counterterrorism, Robert E. Casey, Special Agent in Charge of our Dallas office, applauded yesterday’s verdicts and put terrorists on notice: “The FBI will continue to keep the country safe by actively investigating all forms of terrorist threats, whether that threat manifests itself in the planning or execution of a violent terrorist act or other crimes that provide support to terrorist organizations.”
Fighting terrorism by choking off its funding source is one of the many techniques we use to proactively disrupt and dismantle terrorist enterprises before they strike. The case against Holy Land was investigated by one of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which bring together local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
In December 2001, three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Holy Land as a “Specially Designated Terrorist” group. We raided the organization’s Texas headquarters, seized its assets, and shut down its operation. At the time, Holy Land was ranked as the country's largest Muslim charitable organization.
Hamas was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1995, and that made contributions to the group illegal. The 108 counts the Holy Land defendants were convicted of yesterday, including providing material support to Hamas and money laundering, carry stiff sentences. No sentencing date has been set.
During the trial, the government presented evidence that Holy Land Foundation and the five defendants provided approximately $12.4 million in support to Hamas and its goal of creating an Islamic Palestinian state by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad. Evidence was also presented that several of the defendants have family members who are Hamas leaders, including Hamas’s political chief, Mousa Abu Marzook.