I need to play catch-up with the Care International Trial that's currently going on in Boston, which is getting decent coverage in newspapers in Massachusetts and England. Three former Worcester, MA men have been charged by the DOJ with making false statements and tax code violations: Emadeddin Muntasser (originally from Libya), Muhammed Mubayyid (Lebanon), and Samir Al-Monla (Kuwait). I wrote about this case earlier here. The three men were accused of making false statements to the government to obtain tax-exempt status for their "charity," Care International. The government alleges that Care used the funds they collected to support Muslim militants in Bosnia and Chechnya (think Beslan) and to publish pro-jihad newsletters. Care International raised $1.7 million dollars between 1993 and 2003. According to the indicted men, that money was for widows and orphans. But the personal checks made out to this "charity" were marked “for Jihad only,” “Mujahideen of Bosnia,” “Bosnia Jihad fund,” and “Chechen Muslim Fighters”. Here are updates on the trial, as published in a variety of newspapers:
- International Herald Tribune, November 13, 2007 - Trial begins for three charged in Muslim charity probe,
"Prosecutors allege that Care was raising money to support mujahideen, defined in the indictment as "Muslim holy warriors," and that it published the pro-jihadist newsletter called "al-Hussam," which means "The Sword" in Arabic. Specifically, prosecutors say the men did not tell the government that it supported mujahideen in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan and other countries. Care also used a portion of its donations to publish an English translation of Join the Caravan, a pro-jihad book."
"But defense attorneys accuse prosecutors of trying to sensationalize the charges into a terrorism case by highlighting the newsletter....Harvey Silvergate, a prominent Cambridge civil rights attorney, and Susan Estrich, the former presidential campaign manager for Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis who is now a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, have argued that Care's activities were protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and of religion." As the Irish would call them, "Idjeets."
Boston Globe, November 15, 2007 - Ex-heads of Islamic charity go on trial. I'm pleased to see that Shelley Murphy of the Globe is covering this trial. Bravo, Globe!
"Defense lawyers warned jurors yesterday not to be swayed in a trial that will involve talk of jihad, Muslim holy warriors, and extremist sentiments. They say that three former leaders of a defunct Boston-based Islamic charity who are on trial in federal court accused of tax fraud are being unfairly prosecuted for expressing unpopular political views in newsletters and on a website."
"....Defense lawyers accused the government of unfairly suggesting that Care sent money to Islamic militants fighting overseas, when the only support provided was in the form of writings in newsletters and online postings.... Lawyers said the charity sent money to Muslim widows and orphans and victims of disaster all over the world."
- Boston Globe, November 16, 2007 - FBI agent says charity founder lied about Afghan trip
"An FBI agent testified yesterday that the founder of a defunct Boston-based Islamic charity told agents he had "never ever" been to Afghanistan, but they later learned he traveled there in 1994 and personally met with a notorious Afghan mujahideen warlord. FBI special agent Christopher Peet told jurors that he and another agent showed up unexpectedly at Emededdin Muntasser's office in April 2003 to question him about the charity, Massachusetts Care International Inc., and its ties to a New York organization. He said they would have drastically changed their focus if Muntasser had disclosed his meeting in Afghanistan with warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatayr."
"Hekmatayr, who led a group that helped end Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1989, was designated a global terrorist by the US State Department in February 2003. But US District Judge F. Dennis Saylor ruled yesterday that jurors should not be told that Hekmatayr was an alleged terrorist because it could prejudice them against Muntasser and his two codefendants."
"....In his opening remarks, Norman Zalkind, Muntasser's lawyer, said his client initially didn't disclose his trip to Afghanistan in 2003 because he was fearful that he might be sent to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba."
Zalkind is also the lawyer for Sharon imam Muhammad Masood, indicted for making false statements to federal agents and immigration fraud. The Muslim American Society was reportedly paying Masood's legal fees. I wonder who's paying the legal feed for these three gentlemen.
- Worcester Telegram, November 22, 2007 - Lee Hammel is tracking this case too: Vow to warlord alleged in trial
"The prosecution introduced a document yesterday that it said indicates two Muslim defendants on trial in U.S. District Court vowed their allegiance to an Afghan warlord in 1995. The document is a letter surreptitiously copied by the FBI in a Northboro self-storage unit about four weeks after the 9-11 terror attacks in 2001, when the Joint Terrorism Task Force used a search warrant authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Among the seven signers of the letter were Emadeddin Z. Muntasser and Samir Al-Monla, according to the U.S. attorney’s office."
"....In a letter that prosecutors said was believed written in April 1995, around the date of other copied documents, the seven men addressed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, writing, 'We are prepared, Allah willing, to abide by your commands and we are forever in the fold of obedience and military service.'
What's that again about widows and orphans?
- Worcester Telegram, November 28, 2007 - ‘Seas of blood’ for jihad extolled in articles to jury
"A Muslim newspaper promoted the virtue of giving up one’s life for jihad and was critical of those who speak against it. Excerpts from the newspaper Al-Hussam (The Sword) and from other publications taken in 2003 from a Northboro self-storage locker rented by the charity Care International were read to a jury in U.S. District Court yesterday."
"Al-Hussam quoted Abdullah Azzam, a central figure in the jihad movement, as saying Afghan Muslims, who drove the Soviets out of their country in the 1980s, 'didn’t get to where they are now without courage, without mountains of martyrs, without seas of blood.'
"Al-Hussam, the name of the newspaper of both Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Boston and Care International in Boston, had an article in the Feb. 24, 1995, issue saying that 'Jews, Christians and liars joined in a plan which was financed by the Saudi regime, executed and produced by Pakistan' to prevent a united Muslim government in Afghanistan."
That's a novel conspiracy theory for you. Brilliant!
"Article after article was read to the jury, interrupted by frequent warnings from Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV that the three defendants had a right to hold and publish their views and practice their religion, and should not be punished by the jury for doing so."
Dear God, please save us from ourselves. He's the judge and I'm not, but I think Saylor the IVth (and Silvergate and Estrich) should be reminded that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. When a community's "religious practices" call for the destruction of the "disbelievers and tyrants" (that's us), why on earth should we allow them to practice that "religion"? Can't we be more discerning about who we let into the U.S.?
Meanwhile, which side does the Boston Muslim American Society choose? From an e-mail sent out via the moderated MAS e-mailing list this past Wednesday, November 28, 2007:
"A Muslim brother has been indicted by federal prosecutors and the trial has started last week at the "John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse". His case clearly fits the pattern of the "witch hunt" cases (like the Holy Land Foundation case) already brought before the justice.""The defense lawyers strongly recommend that there be a sizable audience at the courtroom in support of our Muslim brother, so please make every effort to attend part of the trial (or all the trial if you can). May Allah reward for that. ""The trial takes place everyday (Monday to Friday) from 9 AM to sometime in the afternoon (whenever the judge decides to stop). Here is the courtroom address (on the water front): Courtroom #22, John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, MA"