The federal District Court court in Dallas declared a mistrial Monday on almost all of the counts against the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic charity accused of illegally funneling money to the militant Palestinian group Hamas. It is a major loss for the government and one that is likely to be heralded by civil libertarians concerned over the almost limitless definition of what constitutes material support for terrorists. The Foundation was once the largest charity for Muslim in America.
The end of the trial was exceptionally wierd. The verdict originally said that the jury found three leaders of a charity not guilty of funneling illegal aid to terrorists, but three jurors then said that the verdicts were wrong. The judge then sent them back, but they were unable to agree. It will create an interesting issue on any retrial for those originally acquitted: charity fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader on all counts and two others on most counts: former chairman Mohammed El-Mezain Mohammed El-Mezain and the group’s New Jersey representative, Abdulrahman Odeh.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the government failed to convince the vast majority of jurors on those allegations.
The government has been accused of various abuses in the case, including the use of false translations and misrepresentations. The Holy Land Foundation also found itself unable to present a significant case when it was first targeted administratively — an area where accused parties are given limited procedural protections and the government given an absurd level of deference. Regardless of the merits of the allegations, civil libertarians have been unified in their view of the unfairness of the process and alarmed by the fluidity of the definition of the underlying criminal acts. For the story, click here Both democrats and republicans in Congress refused to reign in the definition of material support provisions despite the long criticism.