Skip to comments.Unholy Fundraising: The Holy Land Foundation, Hamas, and their allies in the U.S.
Posted on 12/06/2001 5:12:53 PM PST by Utah Girl
Early Tuesday, federal agents acting on President Bush's orders and on the strength of evidence accumulated during years of FBI surveillance, raided several offices of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a group suspected of being the main North American fundraiser for Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization Hamas.
The raids followed President Bush's decision to freeze the group's U.S. assets, as well as those of West Bank-based Al-Aqsa Islamic Bank and Beit-el Mal Holdings. It took the Holy Land Foundation only a few hours to mount a media offensive in response to the president's move. Within half-a-day, a series of Islamic organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and the Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada, issued a joint statement denouncing the president's order. They insisted the White House had ordered an asset freeze without any evidence, thus effectively stopping the flow of urgently needed humanitarian resources to Palestinian orphans. Meanwhile, the HLF, which was founded in 1989, has steadfastly denied any contacts with Hamas or with any other terrorist organization. In a statement released after the asset freeze, the group called President Bush's decision an "affront" to millions of American Muslims and the result of a "nationwide smear campaign dictated from Israel."
The HLF, officially a Palestinian-American children's charity, knows public relations. It also knows money, if the $13 million the White House says the group raised last year are any indication. And, Mr. Bush insists, the Holy Land Foundation knows Hamas, whose leadership is alleged to have created a web of fundraising organizations throughout the United States and Canada. Judicial Watch says senior Hamas operative Musa Abu Marzouk established the HLF before being arrested and deported to Jordan in 1995. The results? The White House, the Justice Department, and moderate American Muslims are convinced Hamas is able to raise several million dollars every year in the U.S. in order to train and indoctrinate suicide bombers for attacks on Israel.
Sources within the American Muslim community say the Holy Land Foundation has, in the past, been remarkably successful at soliciting funds not only from Muslims, but also from Jews and Christians, by not promoting a deliberately Islamic image. The group has greatly benefited from the fundraising skills of Internet entrepreneur Omar Ahmad, a cofounder of Silicon Expert Technologies, based in Santa Clara, California. The group's website, brimming with photographs of smiling children and extolling the charitable work allegedly accomplished in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Jordan, suggests a highly sophisticated and media-savvy organization, which welcomes all comments and inquiries. Although potential donors are asked to contribute during the current Muslim holy month of Ramadan, there is nothing on the HLF website to suggest the group is an Islamic organization per se.
Steve Emerson, an expert on U.S.-based radical Islamic groups, says the Holy Land Foundation does, in fact, spend some of the money it receives on schools, health clinics, and other humanitarian projects. However, he insists the HLF sends most of its funds to Hamas-run organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. In a formal legal complaint filed against groups allegedly fronting for Hamas, Judicial Watch says Marzuk once claimed a $210,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation.
Some of the organizations expressing support for the HLF have themselves come under fire for promoting Hamas's aims in North America. The Washington-based CAIR has issued statements condemning the September 11th attacks. Nifty networking earned CAIR and an array of allied groups a White House meeting in the weeks following the attacks, as President Bush tried to reassure Muslims at home and abroad that antiterrorist strikes would not be aimed at Islam. However, recent articles in The Weekly Standard and The New Republic alleged that the group also fronts for Hamas and ultimately shares the ideology of al Qaeda. The White House has now reportedly broken ties to CAIR as a result of the allegations.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Association for Palestine, while stopping short of a public endorsement of Hamas, clearly states it wants to help establish an Islamic state that would include both the Palestinian territories and Israel. The group, alleged to function as a public relations arm for Hamas, describes the Holy Land as the historic center of the "struggle" between Islam on one side, and Christianity and Judaism on the other. The IAP's website goes on to relate what it calls a long history of confrontation between Islam and other cults. While saying Jews and Christians, as adherents of "divinely revealed" faiths, ought to be allowed to practice their religions as they please, the IAP website suggests they would be nothing more than tolerated guests in a country whose "rightful owners" are Muslims.
American Muslim sources critical of Holy Land Foundation, CAIR, and the Islamic Association for Palestine, say Hamas has also tried to expand its reach by placing activists inside organizations it does not necessarily control, such as the General Union of Palestine Students or the Muslim Student Association.
The Holy Land Foundation and its supporters are quick to point out that the government has released no detailed evidence of the group's ties to Hamas. However, President Bush's move seems to have caught the HLF off guard. By Wednesday morning, the group had reduced its once-sophisticated website to a single page exhibiting a statement of denial. Furthermore, while it had announced it would hold a press conference Wednesday at noon, the Holy Land Foundation could not be reached by phone.
Wrong step number one, act like victim. Two, throw in anti-semitic bs. I'm not sympathetic.
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