On Oct. 29, 2012, the Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge to convictions of five former top officials with the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), once the nation’s largest Muslim charity. In a petition to the court, defense attorneys challenged the prosecution’s reliance on hearsay and the testimony of a foreign intelligence official who used a pseudonym while testifying. While the judicial appeal process is now over, questions remain about the status of the estimated $5 million dollars in charitable funds and other HLF assets seized by the government. The charity, HLF, was unrepresented during the trial. Click here for case background & summary.
The five defendants had been convicted in 2008 for conspiracy to provide “material support” for terrorism and other charges. The government did not claim the HLF officials provided direct support to a terrorist group. Instead, it argued that charitable aid to local charities it said are affiliated with Hamas provides a public relations benefit to a terrorist group, making it a crime. The defendants were convicted even though the local charities that received HLF support are not on any government watchlists and received money from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The five defendants face jail sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years.
Noor Elashi, the daughter of HLF co-founder Ghassan Elashi, wrote a blog post about her father’s case. “I am still in shock that the case has gone as far as it has because in its essence, the HLF case is about a bold humanitarian endeavor that was put to an end,” she wrote.
The first trial ended in a hung jury, but prosecutors obtained convictions in a retrial the following year.