I've been reading the Worcester Telegram's coverage of the Care International Trial in Boston (previous postings here). Reporter Lee Hammel has closely followed this case. Criminal charges were brought against three Worcester men for making false statements and filing a false tax return. Their now-defunct Muslim charitable organization was apparently raising money to fund mujahideen in Bosnia and Chechnya and other locales, in addition to raising funds for widows and orphans. You can read the indictment here.
Recent developments have not been good. Two defendants were acquitted of one of the eight charges (obstructing the Internal Revenue Service) last week:
" Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV made the ruling on the motion by Susan R. Estrich, one of Mr. Muntasser's lawyers, on the 21st day of the jury trial, ....He acquitted on the obstruction charge because the six-year statute of limitations expired on the 2005 indictment for all but Muhamed Mubayyid, who filed Care International's tax returns while serving as treasurer from 1997 to 2003."
"Marcus S. Owens, the top IRS official concerned with tax-exempt status from 1990 to 2000, also testified yesterday that even if IRS officials had seen Care International's inflammatory newsletter, it would not have made a difference. "
"Care's fundraising literature openly glorifies jihad and martyrdom. Its ultra-militant newsletter, known as Al-Hussam, described itself as an exclusive, authentic source of information about 'Jihad action.' Al-Hussam contained such violent exhortations as 'Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, and disgrace them, and help you (to victory) over them' and 'it is now that fighting has come and there will always be a group of [Muslims] who fight in the path of Allah, they fight until the day of Judgment.' (Newsletters dated April 16, 1993; February 5, 1993
This excerpt came from Steve Emerson's testimony before a House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Overight and Investigations on March 11, 2003. Two Boston area Islamic centers prohibited distribution of the newsletter, yet the "top IRS official" is unconcerned with its content.
Do we really have to extend freedom of speech to people who wish to do us harm?
I went to PACER to look up the trial (anyone can sign up, it allows access to court info and documents for a minor fee). There are now 387 documents filed on this case (4:05-cr-40026-FDS), which was originally filed on May 11, 2005.
I'm not a lawyer and I've never closely followed any trial before, but as I was browsing through the listing of documents, I was struck by the enormous number of objections raised by the defendants' counsel to EVERYTHING. They repeatedly try to get charges dismissed; exclude evidence, transcripts, expert witnesses; and propose new jury instructions after virtually every witness. Nine different memoranda, objections and motions were filed on December 17th alone. I count 50-odd memoranda, objections and motions filed by defense since October 1, 2007. The majority of these motions to dismiss or exclude were denied by Judge Sayler.
Is this standard operating procedure for a trial like this? Or is this an attempt to tie the feds up in knots? Are the defense attorneys simply doing their job, or are they trying to overwhelm and confuse the jurors?
How deep are the defendant's pockets that they can afford all these legal maneuevres? Do we think that Harvey Silverglate and Susan Estrich are doing this pro-bono?
Hugh Fitgerald is one to something when he calls for special courts for jihad cases, along the lines of patent and tax courts. As he wrote about the Dallas TX Holy Land Foundation mistrial:
"This shows again the need for special courts, with jurisdiction over all cases about Jihad, for they cannot be understood without a solid grounding in the texts and tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam, and that takes a bit of study, far more study than the average judge will put in, and certainly more than those selected for juries."
BTW, the defense's law firm is Zalkind, Rodriguez, Lunt and Duncan, LLP, the same firm that is defending former Sharon, MA imam Muhammad Masood (charged with immigration fraud). The Muslim Amerian Society has been reportedly footing the bill for Masood.
If only there was a smart cookie of a law student or legal intern somewhere who could pore over the 387 documents and create a narrative about what's going on. Lee Hammel is doing an excellent job in covering the trial, but clearly there's bucket loads of stuff going on behind the scenes.
UPDATE: A pretty smart lawyer tells me that the large number of motions filed in this case are par for the course in a criminal case, not out of the ordinary. OK.