Kangaroo Country: "Terror" Verdict Against Charity a Bitter Fruit of
Written by Chris Floyd
If the Holy Land Foundation "terrorism" case had been held in Russia, we
would now be enduring a flood of thundering commentary from every leading
orifice of the corporate media, denouncing yet another travesty of justice
in the sham democracy controlled by the Kremlin. Yet a decorous editorial
silence covers the convictions of five charity officials whose only crime
was helping needy and oppressed people through agencies used by
international charities such as the Red Cross, and by the United States
government itself. As Alternet.com reports:
On Monday afternoon, a jury in Dallas, Texas found five Palestinian men
guilty of more than 100 charges in the nation's largest terrorism financing
trial since 9/11...
Edward Abington, the former number two intelligence official at the State
Department (and ex-US consul in Jerusalem), told jurors he was never told
that the Palestinian charity committees supported by Holy Land were part of
Hamas in the daily intelligence briefings he received. In fact, these same
charities, or "zakat committees," still receive donations from the U.S.
Agency for International Development and the International Red Cross.
This was the second trial against Holy Land. Last year, the government's
case ended in embarrassment and defeat when jurors returned after 19 days of
deliberations with no guilty verdicts. At least one of the defendants would
have been completely acquitted had a juror not changed her mind at the
eleventh hour, backing out of her decision to acquit when the judge polled
the panel about their votes. Another juror later said she refused to discuss
the evidence during deliberations, simply explaining that she relied on her
The stark differences between the two juries became apparent at the
conclusion of the second trial. "Twelve good American citizens in the first
trial didn't convict anyone of anything," Linda Moreno, one of the defense
attorneys on the case, told the Associated Press. "And 12 good American
citizens in the second trial convicted everyone of everything. If you can
make sense of that explain it to me."
...Over fervent objections from the defense, the judge in the Holy Land
trial allowed the prosecution to present testimony from an anonymous Israeli
intelligence agent. This bizarre episode marked the first time in American
legal history that testimony has been allowed from an expert witness with no
identity. If the witness, who was introduced to the jury simply as "Avi,"
lied or committed perjury, he faces no consequences. He is officially
non-existent, after all.
The New York Times adds:
Nancy Hollander, a lawyer from Albuquerque who represented Mr. Abu-Baker,
said the defendants would appeal based on a number of issues, including the
anonymous testimony of an expert, which she said was a first. [The Times
demurely omits the fact that the "expert" was an Israeli intelligence
"Our clients were not even allowed to review their own statements because
they were classified - statements that they made over the course of many
years that the government wiretapped," Ms. Hollander said. "They were not
allowed to go back and review them. There were statements from alleged
co-conspirators that included handwritten notes. Nobody knew who wrote them;
nobody knew when they were written. There are a plethora of issues."
Back to Alternet:
Though the prosecution ostensibly limited their case to Palestinian
charities operating in the present day, most of the evidence presented to
the jury involved the general activities of Hamas, and dated back decades.
With its propaganda-like quality, the evidence was clearly intended to
provoke an emotional response. For example, jurors were repeatedly shown
videos of grisly suicide bombings that none of the defendants were in any
way connected to, or accused of planning.
William Neal, who served on the first Holy Land jury, raised disturbing
questions about the prosecution's tactics in an interview with Dallas radio
station KRLD 1080. "They never proved -- they kept trying to show us stuff
around the case, not the case. They presented to the jury, you know these
committees, these organizations controlled by or on the behalf of Hamas, but
they kept showing us blown-up buses and they kept showing us little kids in
bomb belts reenacting Hamas leaders," he said. "It had nothing to do with
the actual charges. It had nothing to do with the defendants."
Of course it had nothing to do with defendants. The entire case had nothing
to do with the defendants -- and certainly nothing to do with "fighting
terrorism." It did, however, have everything to do with the U.S.
government's decades-long struggle to eliminate every single avenue of
resistance to its policies in the Middle East (and the whole of the "Central
Command" proconsular territories) save that of violent, sectarian extremism.
The bipartisan poobahs in Washington have long believed -- and continue to
believe -- that it is far better to deal with small, radicalized bands of
extremists (and by "deal with," we not only mean confront and fight, but
also co-opt, create, manipulate, arm, fund, etc.) than to see the rise of
popular, broad-based national movements that could provide substantial,
legitimate opposition to the way the poo-bahs want things ordered in the Oil
Lands and their strategic environs. This is the same strategy employed by
Israel in its long, covert efforts to build up Hamas as a counterweight to
the secular PLO. Fomenting extremism not only splits and discredits
opposition movements, it also provides a handy excuse for the authoritarian
measures that American leaders love to see their proxies employ, while also
justifying massive arms deals to said authoritarian proxies. And of course,
the presence of "radical extremists" (and "New Hitlers") in any country can
always be used to whip up support for a direct U.S. intervention, and the
guaranteed gushers of war-profiteering blood money that result.
Thus any and all measures that might alleviate the suffering and address the
grievances of oppressed people in the all-important satrapy of Central
Command have been diligently hounded, constricted and/or destroyed for
years. There is also another important component to this strategy: it aims
to establish the principle of criminalization for any person or activity
that can be connected by even the most tenuous, specious, ludicrous (and
sometimes torture-produced) "evidence" to any entity that has been
arbitrarily declared a "terrorist organization" by the fiat of one Beltway
poobah or another. After all, the Bush Administration once freely declared,
in open court, that even "little old ladies" who unwittingly wrote a check
to a charity that could be tied, by some pretzelish thread, to a proscribed
entity could be declared an "enemy combatant" and subject to rendtion,
arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, "intensive interrogation" and the
whole Patriot Act panoply.
But not to worry; surely a new administration well-stocked with
anti-imperialists like Hillary "I Told Bill to Bomb Belgrade" Clinton and
Robert Gates (once described in these precincts as "an old Bush Family
factotum who was hip-deep in the Iran-Contra arms-drugs-terror scam, who
doctored, spun and manipulated intelligence for partisan purposes and also
steered secret U.S. military intelligence to help Saddam Hussein launch WMD
attacks") will bring American policy back to the straight and narrow real
Sy Hersh on another bunch of criminals funding terrorists
Unfortunately, there's another group of fanatics who have been discovered to
fund extremists. They're giving millions to al-Qaeda groups, not that
al-Qaeda-linked small fish nonsense, they've given $300 million to the same
thugs who did the '93 WTC bombing. Really scary stuff, I hope someone
convicts these guys. Sy Hersh reports:
The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations
in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated
against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for
example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer
who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told
me. "The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran,
but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda," Baer told me. "These are guys
who cut off the heads of nonbelievers-in this case, it's Shiite Iranians.
The irony is that we're once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just
as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties." Ramzi Yousef, who was
convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the
September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.
One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the
Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People's Resistance Movement, which
describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in
Iran. "This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the
same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists," Nasr told me. "They
are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be
tied to the drug culture." The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing
of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least
eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports,
the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S.
The C.I.A. and Special Operations communities also have long-standing ties
to two other dissident groups in Iran: the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the
West as the M.E.K., and a Kurdish separatist group, the Party for a Free
Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK.
The M.E.K. has been on the State Department's terrorist list for more than a
decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence,
directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized
covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K.
coffers. "The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is
desperate for results." He added, "The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the
books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for
years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going
to its bank accounts-and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the
The Kurdish party, PJAK, which has also been reported to be covertly
supported by the United States, has been operating against Iran from bases
in northern Iraq for at least three years. (Iran, like Iraq and Turkey, has
a Kurdish minority, and PJAK and other groups have sought self-rule in
territory that is now part of each of those countries.) In recent weeks,
according to Sam Gardiner, the military strategist, there has been a marked
increase in the number of PJAK armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist
attacks on Iranian targets. In early June, the news agency Fars reported
that a dozen PJAK members and four Iranian border guards were killed in a
clash near the Iraq border; a similar attack in May killed three
Revolutionary Guards and nine PJAK fighters. PJAK has also subjected Turkey,
a member of NATO, to repeated terrorist attacks, and reports of American
support for the group have been a source of friction between the two
Here's the buried treasure:
Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must
be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a
minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the
House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective
intelligence committees-the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation
can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the
relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.
Lots of bloody hands, indeed.