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Tortured Palestinian set free

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    Salah cleared of terrorism charges The Daily Southtown 1 February 2006 http://www.dailysouthtown.com/news/239624, dst_salahverdict_201.article In a legal
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2007
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      Salah cleared of terrorism charges
      The Daily Southtown
      1 February 2006
      http://www.dailysouthtown.com/news/239624,
      dst_salahverdict_201.article


      In a legal victory that left him crying tears of joy,
      Mohammed Salah today was acquitted of federal racketeering
      charges alleging he was a high-ranking operative of the
      militant Palestinian group Hamas. He was convicted of far
      lesser charges of obstruction of justice.

      Emerging from the courtroom just after the verdict was
      announced, Salah shook hands with anyone who approached
      him.

      "We are pleased. We just have to thank our lawyers and
      everyone else," Salah said, choking up. "I have to thank
      everyone who helped my family put food on the table."

      "We are not terrorists," Salah told reporters as he
      carried his son, Ibrahim, on his shoulders.

      Salah's defense attorney said he hoped the judge would
      grant Salah probation on the remaining counts.

      Defense attorneys declared victory in the three-month
      trial that the government had described as a major
      component in its war on terrorism.

      "This is a great day for justice," said defense attorney
      Michael E. Deutsch, who represented Mohammed Salah.

      Salah, 53, of Bridgeview, and Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 48, a
      one-time assistant business professor at Howard University
      in Washington, had been accused of laundering money for
      Hamas terrorists fighting to topple the Israeli
      government.

      Defense attorneys portrayed the men as freedom fighters,
      comparing them to Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X and the Rev.
      Martin Luther King Jr.

      Salah was convicted of obstruction of justice for giving
      false answers to questions he was asked in a civil
      lawsuit. Ashqar was convicted of criminal contempt and
      obstruction of justice for refusing to testify before a
      federal grand jury when he had been given immunity for
      anything he might say.

      The jury delivered the verdict amid heavy security in the
      courtroom after deliberating for 14 days.

      "We've convicted them -- it's hard to say that we're
      disappointed," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro
      said.

      Salah was accusing of being a high-ranking military
      operative of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which
      is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.
      government.

      Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ferguson, in closing
      arguments, said Salah helped Hamas spread "death,
      destruction and terror." The group's stated goal is the
      eradication of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic
      Palestinian state.

      Salah and Ashqar were charged in a racketeering scheme to
      support Hamas by committing crimes in America, including
      money laundering, obstruction of justice and passport
      fraud. Ferguson said the fact the vast majority of the
      duo's alleged Hamas activity came in the early 1990s --
      before the group officially was designated a terrorist
      organization by the U.S. government -- is irrelevant.

      "It has always been illegal in the United States to
      provide assistance to a murderous enterprise -- always,"
      Ferguson said in his closing arguments.

      In an impassioned plea for an acquittal, Deutsch urged
      jurors to ignore Salah's alleged confessions of terrorist
      activity and consider the plight of displaced Palestinians
      when they ponder Salah's fate.

      After telling jurors he's Jewish, Deutsch condemned
      Israel's "brutal and genocidal occupation" of what once
      was Palestine.

      His voice cracking with fatigue and emotion three hours
      into his speech, he concluded by praising Salah and his
      family.

      "BY no stretch of the imagination is he a terrorist or
      involved with terrorism " Deutsch croaked at the jurors.
      "I know you won't let this happen. I know you believe in
      justice."

      The case against Salah was centered on a series of
      incriminating statements he gave Israeli intelligence
      agents after his checkpoint arrest in January 1993. Salah
      has since claimed he was tortured into making the
      statements and maintains he delivered money in the
      Occupied Territories only for charitable purposes.

      Prosecutors contended Salah was sent abroad to resurrect
      the Hamas military structure after the mass deportation of
      hundreds of suspected Palestinian militants to Lebanon in
      late 1992. They pointed to the pricey, last-minute
      airplane ticket he bought as proof he was on a military
      mission.

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