O Holy Land Foundation

I tore apart Dallas' Only Daily this morning looking for the story about how, on Monday, attorneys representing Holy Land Foundation asked a federal judge here to dismiss charges the U.S. government filed against it after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Didn't see anything; nothing on the Web site from yesterday either. (Update: A DMN-working Friend of Unfair Park sends along the link to yesterday's story, which didn't turn up on an archive search of the paper's site.) I did find online this Associated Press story about the motion to dismiss, which Holy Land's attorneys are basing on a November ruling by a federal judge in Los Angeles, who struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists.

Writes the AP's David Koenig, "U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said Bush's September 2001 order designating 27 groups and individuals as global terrorists was too vague and could infringe their constitutional right of free association. The judge said the groups had no way to challenge Bush's labeling of them as terrorists." (There's also a great New York Times story about the motion to dismiss here.)

So, say Holy Land's attorneys, if Bush can't call the Holy Land Foundation terrorists, they can't be tried for committing or conspiring to commit or paying someone else to commit acts of terrorism, simple as that. This is despite a 42-count federal indictment from July 2004, in which a Dallas grand jury charged that the Richardson-based Holy Land gave more than $12.4 million to people and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to 2001, before the Bush administration seized its assets. The AP reports that Holy Land's lawyers also say in their motion that President Clinton's ban on transactions with Hamas was also unconstitutional.

This is just the latest round in a lengthy legal battle that should conclude here in July, when the Holy Land Foundation and five of its officers finally go to trial. (The five are represented by attorneys not only in Dallas, but also Florida, New Mexico and New York; according to court documents they jointly filed Monday's motion for dismissal.) In November, Holy Land's former chairman, Ghassan Elashi, was sentenced to seven years in prison in a separate case "for having financial ties to a high-ranking Hamas official and making illegal computer exports to countries that support terrorism," the AP writes. He's still free, however, helping Holy Land's attorneys get ready for the summertime trial. --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky