The retrial of five officials of the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. shut down by the government weeks after 9/11, concluded on November 24 with guilty verdicts on all 108 counts. Federal prosecutors had charged that Holy Land officials had conspired to provide material support to terrorists and served as the fundraising arm of Hamas in the U.S., which raised more than $12 million after Hamas had been designated a terrorist organization in 1995.
The implications of these guilty verdicts are staggering in their importance. The most immediate is that federal prosecutors have proved they can win these kinds of complicated terrorism financing cases. Monday’s guilty verdicts are in sharp contrast to the first trial in this case, which ended in October 2007 in a mistrial and victory celebrations by the defendants and their supporters. In response, prosecutors streamlined their case, dropped a number of lesser charges, and prepared new exhibits to help jurors understand the scope of the conspiracy.
This does not bode well for those subject to other ongoing terrorism support inquiries, most especially officials associated with the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT). IIIT was included in the widespread Operation Green Quest raids in March 2002, and is the focus of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation. Convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader and former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian was indicted in June for refusing to provide testimony regarding the funding of his U.S.-based terrorist front operation by IIIT, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). IIIT was the primary financial backer for WISE.
Officials for another closed Islamic terror charity, KindHearts, should also be concerned. The Toledo, Ohio-based KindHearts had its assets frozen by the Treasury Department in February 2006, specifically identifying the group’s support for terrorism. KindHearts was identified as the successor organization to the Holy Land Foundation and another closed terror charity, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Global Relief Foundation. No charges have been filed against KindHearts officials as of yet, but the success of the Holy Land Foundation prosecutions very well might change that.