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.
Another lasting impact of the Holy Land Foundation trial will be the exhibits made public which tie some of the most prominent Islamic institutions in America to the international terrorist support network. In June 2007, the New York Sun reported that a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the case included the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). ISNA claims to be the largest Islamic organization in the country, and CAIR claims to be the largest Muslim “civil rights” group. NAIT is known for holding the deeds for more than 300 mosques in the U.S. and for its ties to the Saudi Wahhabi religious establishment.
What the Holy Land trial exhibits showed is that all of these organizations had been founded to serve as arms of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic extremist group in the world. The terrorist group Hamas is the self-declared Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Court documents showed that CAIR was founded as the political and lobbying arm of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.
The lasting impact of these organizations’ role in the terrorism finance conspiracy is that they are regularly courted by some of the highest-ranking officials of the U.S. government, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and FBI. These agencies have come under intense criticism, sometimes from within their own agency, for partnering with these organizations while they were simultaneously named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial. With the guilty verdicts, any continued cooperation with these organizations will prove to be difficult and increasingly controversial.
The biggest bombshell of the recent trial was a strategic memo made public that was authored by a leading U.S.-based Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Akram, entitled “On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” While the memo was dated May 1991, it stated that the strategy itself had already been approved by the North American Muslim Brotherhood leadership in 1987.
What this memo explains is that the general strategic goal of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. is to wage a “grand jihad” to destroy the West from within by means of a “civilizational-jihadist process”:
The Ikhwan [the Muslim Brotherhood’s name for itself] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. …
They are then to work to employ, direct, and unify Muslims’ efforts and powers for this process. In order to do that, we must possess a mastery of the art of “coalitions,” the art of “absorption,” and the principles of “cooperation.”
With the convictions in the Holy Land Foundation trial and the exhibits used to accomplish those convictions, it is reasonable to conclude that the Muslim Brotherhood, while not yet engaging in violence, is continuing to actively promote their own brand of Islamic supremacism and working to destroy our fundamental freedoms and liberties while exploiting the same. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood network, its organizations identified in an appendix to the Akram memo, ought to be considered a “threat organization” for national security purposes and authorities ought to be on guard. This has already been the conclusion by several prominent analysts who had studied the many trial exhibits, including my colleagues LTC Joe Myers and former Pentagon J2 analyst Stephen Coughlin.
So the Holy Land Foundation trial may finally be concluded, but its potential impact beyond the prison terms that will be handed out for the convicted could continue for the foreseeable future. Not only may more terrorism finance and terrorism support cases be forthcoming, but more critical inquiry into those individuals and organizations who aided the Holy Land Foundation conspiracy.
For many observers, both are long overdue.