Star-Telegram July 29, 2004
Texas Muslims react to Holy Land indictments
By Diane Smith and Darren Barbee
Local Muslims say they don't know whether the Holy Land Foundation funneled charity money to terrorists, but they worry that Islamic organizations are being targeted by the U.S. government.
The Richardson-based charity and seven of its leaders are accused in a 42-count federal indictment of funneling $12.4 million to support the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, including money for the families of suicide bombers.
As news of the indictments reverberated throughout the North Texas Muslim community, reactions ranged from skepticism to concern about the future of other Islamic charities.
Dr. Robbie Hashem, a Colleyville dentist who donated money to the foundation for an orphanage, said the allegations are shocking if true. "Unfortunately, we now live in a day when ... you don't know who you're donating to," he said.
The courts will decide whether the foundation is guilty, but the FBI seems to be targeting Islamic organizations and Muslims, said Hashem, who was born in Palestine. "The FBI and John Ashcroft are on a witch hunt on anything tied to Muslims," he said.
Moazam Syed, a Pakistani American who lives in Fort Worth, said many Muslims have been following the case and are waiting to see whether the defendants are lawbreakers or whether they are being used as scapegoats. "If they are causing terrorism or breaking the law -- and it's proven solidly -- then the law should prevail," he said. But it would be unfair for the government to target someone who is helping innocent people caught up in the Middle East crisis, he said, adding that the defendants are known in the Muslim community as "very caring people."
Some Muslims are also concerned about potential fallout for the image of Muslims and Islamic charities.
"We've got a sense of Islamophobia," said Eric Meek, president of the Islamic Center of Lewisville. "The Muslim community is frustrated and at the same time paranoid."
Mohamud F. Egal, chairman of the Amoud Foundation of Irving, a Muslim charity, said his organization's donations so far haven't been affected by the investigation of the Holy Land Foundation. The Amoud Foundation generates about $40,000 in revenue a year, most of which is spent on education and humanitarian aid in Somalia, Egal said.
But Egal said donors, who come from different faiths, are increasingly concerned by the FBI's tactics. The future seems uncertain, he said…..
Oakland Tribune – July 29, 2004
SF Bay Area Muslims shocked at indictments
By Melissa Evans
FREMONT -- They promised to build schools for poor children in occupied Middle East territories, support hospitals for Palestinians injured in war and provide job training for widowed women. It sounded good to one Fremont man, who cut a check for $50 to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Texas-based Islamic charity.
On Wednesday, he learned his money also may have been used to support Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization blamed for dozens of deadly suicide bombings in Israel. "I was shocked," said the man, who would only give his first name, Rahim. "They were a very respected organization. I can only hope the charges are false."
The Holy Land Foundation, its president, chairman and five other men were accused in a 42-count indictment this week of funneling millions of dollars to Middle East terrorists.
The charity was widely known and well-regarded in the Bay Area, particularly in the early 1990s, said Mohamad Rajabally, president of the Islamic Society of the East Bay in Fremont. Many locals, he said, wrote checks to the foundation. But giving ceased when the foundation's assets were frozen in December 2001, three months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national advocacy group with local offices, defended the foundation by pointing to allegations that the FBI falsified evidence and that the indictment was based on distorted translations of intelligence materials.
Foundation leaders have denied any wrongdoing, and a Hamas official in Syria told the Associated Press the group "did not take a penny from the Holy Land Foundation."
The U.S. government, meanwhile, alleges the foundation provided $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to 2001. The group raised more than $57 million between 1992 and 2001, but it reported only $36.2 million on tax forms, U.S. officials said.
Local Muslims aren't sure what to think. Many say they depend on foundations such as Holy Land to fulfill the charitable pillar of their faith, known as zakat . Muslims are required to give at least 2.5 percent of their total wealth to the poor…..