After more than 15 years of investigation and two trials, the Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers were found guilty of illegally funneling more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
The verdicts by a Dallas federal jury are a significant victory for the Justice Department, which streamlined its case after a mistrial last year and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex evidence presented in the massive case.
Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.
The verdicts are a major triumph for the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing have been troubled. Two other similar high-profile prosecutions targeting supporters of Palestinian militants have ended in acquittals, deadlocked juries or convictions on lesser charges.
“Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a prepared statement.
“This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.”
Peter Margulies, a Roger Williams University law professor who studies terrorism financing cases, said, “The government showed in a streamlined case that where special assistance to the families of terrorists is concerned, cash is the moral equivalent of a car bomb.”
The jury also said Holy Land should forfeit $12.4 million because of several money-laundering convictions in the case. Prosecutors said the government probably will end up with about $5 million in Holy Land money frozen by federal authorities in 2001.