Late yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that, on his watch, the Justice Department declined to prosecute a founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations as a follow up to the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case. His remarks came after New York Congressman Peter King pressed him for answers following reports that Obama political appointees had decided not to expand the HLF investigation out of fear of further alienating the Muslim community.
But, as expected, Holder pointed out that the Bush administration also passed on broadening the HLF investigation, which began as an intelligence case in the 1990s and was pursued criminally after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
As reported by Main Justice:
Speaking to reporters during a briefing, Holder said the Obama administration conducted an examination of the Bush decision. “A review was done of that decision in this administration and the conclusion was reached that that earlier decision was an appropriate one,” Holder said in response to a question from Main Justice.
Holder added that he did not make the final decision to decline to prosecute. “As Attorney General, I guess some folks on the Hill think that my hands were in every decision that’s made, especially those that they disagree with,” Holder said. “But that is not the case.”
Politico’s Josh Gerstein has some expanded comments from Holder:
“The decision that was reached in this administration was the same that was reached in the Bush administration–a determination made that for a variety of reasons, looking at the facts and the law, a prosecution would not be appropriate. A review was done of that decision in this administration and the conclusion was reached that that earlier decision was an appropriate one,” Holder said in response to a question at a wide-ranging briefing for reporters.
Holder said the “decision wasn’t necessarily about CAIR as it was about a guy, an individual.”
Holder’s referring to Omar Ahmad, a CAIR founder who also had close ties to the founders of the HLF. The former Richardson-based HLF was convicted, along with five of its founders and organizers, in 2008 of being the U.S. fundraising arm of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.
On the witness stand in Dallas, the FBI called CAIR a front group for Hamas. CAIR has continued for years to deny any terrorist ties.
References to Ahmad pepper the volumes of evidence in the HLF case. Before CAIR was founded, Ahmad helped organize and preside over a 1993 meeting at a Philadelphia hotel in which Holy Land organizers and about two dozen others convened to discuss, basically, how to keep raising money for Hamas in the U.S. without attracting attention.
The FBI, which was gathering intelligence on Hamas-related activities in the U.S. at the time, made secret recordings of the Philadelphia meeting. Here’s an exchange between Ahmad and Shukri Abu Baker, HLF’s former CEO, discussing their strategy for conducting business going forward.
Baker is currently appealing his 65-year sentence following his conviction for being an HLF leader.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, which had researchers at both Holy Land Foundation trials held in Dallas in 2007 and 2008 gathering evidence and testimony, has compiled this report on Ahmad’s involvement in the Holy Land investigation. (Download the PDF here.) It includes citations from evidence introduced at the trials.
Reviewing it does leave one wondering: Why, with all this evidence, did DOJ stop with the HLF defendants? Also, what other evidence does the FBI have that was gathered during its massive Hamas/HLF investigation that may never see the light of day through more public trials?
Source: Crime Blog