NEW ACTION ALERT! The HLF Trial, Unindicted Co-conspirators & Fairness Play over Fear

Dallas area newspaper Star Telegram printed an Islamophobic opinion-piece by Cal Thomas, accusing all Muslims of being a “fifth column”. Thomas basically blames the trial result on the ineptness of the jury or the prosecutors. He goes to mention ICNA and ISNA as part of the radical Islamic front. It is our duty as Muslims in America to respond to this alarmist Islamophobic rhetoric. Write a letter to the Editor: letters@star-telegram.com. In the comment section below, I have included the letter that I e-mailed in to the paper (sample, do not duplicate, please use for reference only).

You should note that Cal Thomas is part of the right-wing nuts and a regular panelist on Fox Noise. In response to a suicide attack in Israel, he wrote:

Israel should declare its intention to transfer large numbers of its Palestinian residents to Arab nations. This sounds radical until one considers that is precisely what Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have done. After the Palestinians assisted Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War (which Arafat cheered while calling on Hussein to shell Israel), Kuwait forcibly evicted and transferred to Jordan about 300,000 Palestinians, labeling them as traitors and a fifth column. Saudi Arabia also recognized Arafat’s betrayal of their Kuwaiti hosts by transferring about 350,000 Palestinians to Jordan.[1]

Notice the use of the “fifth column” first to justify for Palestinian eviction, and now to cause alarms against Muslims… for what? To expel us too or to intern us?

Also Dallas Morning News had more letters against the HLF trial results than for it. Please also send a note there by clicking here, congratulating the Texan jury for choosing justice over fear-mongering.

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An excellent article from the great human-rights activist, Cherif Bassiouni, on the Holy Land Trial & the victory of Fair Play over Fear Mongering (hat-tip CAIR email list):

A prosecution that is likely to go down in the record books as one of the great abuses of the American legal process ended with a mistrial yesterday in Dallas, Texas.

The politicized case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), an American charity providing aid to needy families in Palestine, alleged material support for a terrorist organization. This was so even while the government conceded that HLF only provided assistance to real charitable organizations and persons.

Yet the prosecution’s “Alice in Wonderland” theory postulates that in so doing, HLF freed Hamas from its burden to fund charitable activities in Palestine, thus having more resources to direct toward terrorist activities.

The government could only build its case on overstretched assumptions and associations. It failed to prove any credible conspiratorial linkage between the Americans who operated HLF in Texas and those who operate Hamas in Palestine.

As far-fetched as the theory itself was, the evidence presented by the government to support that theory failed to connect the dots. And on Thursday, October 18, the jury returned a sealed verdict that – not surprisingly – did not include a single guilty verdict on any of the 197 charges.

However, the judge was out of town and the verdict could not be read until Monday, October 22. By then, some members of the jury apparently had misgivings, and after the verdict was read and the jury polled, three jurors contested the unanimous nature of the verdict. The judged ordered further deliberations after which 11 of the 12 jurors concurred with the original verdict and one did not, thus causing the judge to declare a mistrial.

What is additionally outrageous in this case is the fact that the Department of Justice named 306 individuals and organizations as un-indicted co-conspirators in the case. The exhaustive list includes several major American Muslim organizations in this country.

Such intimidation and harassment leveled against American Muslims and their religious, civic and charitable organizations by this administration is yet another manifestation of the recent erosion of American constitutional freedoms. The fear-mongering campaign opted for by many in this administration – and supported by avowedly anti-Muslim groups – has created a climate of Islamophobia that is contrary to the basic values of this otherwise tolerant country.

But it is the assault upon constitutional freedoms under the guise of terrorist-related prosecutions that is most shocking.

Since 2002, an estimated 500 cases have been brought against Muslims in America. Half of these have been dismissed as being without merit. The rest have all resulted in either acquittals or negotiated pleas on minor charges which are unrelated to the original indictment. Of the 500 cases, it is estimated that some 30 of them may have had some reasonable foundation in law.

In no other area of prosecution has the Department of Justice produced such an extraordinarily high percentage of dismissed cases and cases resulting in guilty pleas on unrelated charges. This, in itself, raises concerns that these prosecutions were informed by the fear-mongering claims of the current administration that terrorism à-la 9/11 may become an indigenous product and that American Muslims may be a new clear and present danger.

Not only is this outrageously wrong, it is un-American in every respect.

These overreaches and abuses by the Department of Justice, not the least of which is the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian – who continues to linger in jail because of a vindictive prosecutorial approach against someone who was never proven to have been guilty of any terrorist-related charges – weakens our democracy rather than protects it.

The inclusion of 306 un-indicted co-conspirators as mentioned above is intended to put these organizations and individuals on notice that they should not stand up for their rights under the Constitution.

Obviously, these charges are also intended to dry up contributions and support for these organizations and eventually open them up to frivolous lawsuits for damages by those who have been victims of terrorism elsewhere.

The perverse nature of the un-indicted co-conspirator designation made public in the HLF case is that those so-designated cannot challenge the designation in a court of law and thus have no way to restore their reputation to its earlier standing. This is a unique situation where any person or organization can be designated “guilty by association” and stigmatized as such without legal redress.

There is no doubt that the Department of Justice in selecting that list of 306 organizations and individuals intended to accomplish such results, especially for three of the largest and most effective American Muslim organizations: The Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The situation described above requires action by Congress and by those American organizations and individuals who cherish their constitution and who believe in the American way of democracy and freedom for all.

If the present tactics of the Department of Justice continue, it will not be long before American Muslims suffer the same fate Japanese-Americans did in World War II.

Demonizing an entire minority group based on suspicion and fear-mongering was wrong then, and it is wrong now. We cannot allow such a blot on our history to be repeated.

I am confident that America’s sense of decency and fair play will ultimately prevail.

Cherif Bassiouni is a professor of law at DePaul University and president of the International Human Rights Law Institute. He received Texas Dawah’s 2006 Award for the Celebration of Muslim-Americans’ Successes. Click here to view a PBS interview with Professor Bassiouni.

7 / View Comments

7 responses to “NEW ACTION ALERT! The HLF Trial, Unindicted Co-conspirators & Fairness Play over Fear”

  1. Amad says:

    Mr. Bassiouni s a great human right activist…

    He was forced out of the United Nations in 2005 under pressure from the Bush administration just days after he released a report criticizing the US for committing human rights abuses:

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/28/1346246

    In other words, he is another victim of the Bush theocracy… a great American!

  2. ... says:

    Sorry for being off topic, but I have spent atleast 1hr on this site searching for the article I read a while back by Yasir Qadhi on Gelatin in foods. PLz can someone help. A sister needs this info.
    I am extremely sorry for putting this request in an inappropriate place.
    Assalaam alaikum.

    He has some comments here: http://muslimmatters.org/2007/07/09/of-mice-and-men-the-cheese-factor/

  3. Amad says:

    Sample letter (do not duplicate) sent to Star-Telegram (read top of post for more details). I hope many Muslims will write and make their voices heard. If you do decide to write it, please try to share with others in order to encourage a wave of letters inshallah!

    Dear Editor
    I was disappointed to read Cal Thomas’s prejudiced article (A new fifth column dated October 26, 2007), which is a pure case of sour grapes. Mr. Thomas in essence claims that since the jury did not return his favored guilty verdict, henceforth they must be either wrong or that the case wasn’t presented properly. Mr. Thomas doesn’t stop at the HLF trial, but rather proclaims Islamophobic accusations of Muslims as being a fifth column. It seems Mr. Thomas hasn’t learned from history. He wants a repeat of the McCarthy era, by defaming all Americans Muslims as being against America’s interests. Thus, he uses the same techniques of “guilt by association” in naming other Islamic organizations such as ICNA and ISNA, neither of whom have ever faced any formal prosecution, let alone been found guilty of any crimes or connections to terrorism. When one considers that the main accused party, HLF, could not be found guilty of even one single charge, then how is it that one should believe or accept any of the charges and claims against the other un-indicted co-conspirators in the document that Mr. Thomas mentions? I would like to remind Mr. Thomas that the Supreme Court declared such guilty by association, McCarthyite techniques 30 years ago as unconstitutional, and it is our “American duty” to abide by the essence of the ruling.

    All Texans should be proud of the 11 jurors in Texas, who refused to give in to the rising Islamophobia and bigotry in politics and society, paying objective attention only to the case specifics (not the religion or appearance of the accused) in returning the not-guilty verdicts. If this can happen in the deep South, there is hope in the justice system for all Americans, and especially for the Muslim citizens of this great nation.

    Amad

  4. fahmed says:

    Star Telegram also carried a good article on the HLF case

    An unholy case, flawed from the beginning by BOB RAY SANDERS

    Its worth-while to send a letter of appreciation to Star-telegram and the author of this piece as well.

  5. Amad says:

    fahmed, jak for the link. I still do maintain that there cannot be balance in racism.

    t does not excuse having a defamatory, Islamophobic story in the first place to balance:

    How would one like balance with a story that reflects racism one day and another one that reflects anti-racism… would that be acceptable? Or antisemitic one day and anti anti-semitism the next… would that be ok? Neither will fly.

    There shouldn’t be a question about balance when articles are defamatory, and racist in nature (which Islamophobia is).

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