By Todd Bensman as published November 3, 2023 by the New York Post
AUSTIN, Texas — Is the US-designated terrorist group Hamas active in the United States?
Of course it is, as it has been since the early 1990s, albeit limiting its activities mainly to influencing the media and therefore government policy toward Israel, and potentially still illegally fundraising in ways the FBI has not yet uncovered.
If the bureau has even been looking for that anymore.
“Hamas supporters have long operated in the United States,” concludes the first bullet point in a fresh October report, “The Hamas Network in America,” by George Washington University’s respected Program on Extremism.
We know this much because after the federal government convicted five defendants who ran the largest organized Hamas wing in the United States in November 2008, the US Attorney’s Office in Dallas left behind an 11-page list of unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers known as “Attachment A.”
Attachment A is part of a case called United States of America v. the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity that used to operate in the Dallas area.
Prosecutors alleged HLF was raising money for terrorist attacks in Israel.
The defendants always denied any connection to Hamas, even though one of the indicted men, who sang death-to-Jews songs in a band at “Intifada festival” fundraisers, is the half-brother of Hamas leader Khalid Mishal.
A second defendant is Mishal’s cousin, Akram Mishal, who went on the lam with defendant Haitham Maghawri.
Both remain fugitives.
A related early-2000s federal prosecution, USA v. Infocom Corporation, convicted relatives and spouses of other Holy Land Foundation officers as Hamas operatives who’d funneled money to Mousa Abu Marzouk, another current senior Hamas leader, who lived in Dallas until he was deported in 1997.
Hamas has rarely expressed interest in direct attacks on the United States but has operated here to raise money and lobby decision-makers to reduce American support for Israel.
Attachment A is a list of 246 individuals and entities, including “HLF employees” and “members of the US Muslim Brotherhood.” In the years since, some of those entities may have changed their names or reorganized, while others have not.
I asked James Jacks, the lead prosecutor on the HLF cases whose team in the Northern District of Texas produced Attachment A, if the list might be useful now.
“It could be something that an agent could look at” as a predicate for fresh preliminary investigations, said Jacks, now retired and in private practice.
“It would be something that would have to be within the statute of limitations, so you basically would have to find recent evidence of providing material support. There certainly could be more fundraising going on, prompted by the military action over there.
“If people here are sympathetic, they could be more motivated to give money now.”
One of those reconstituted from an entity on the HLF list has just found itself in the crosshairs again, although not of federal prosecutors but from an unlikely quarter: Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.
The state’s Consumer Protection Section has opened an investigation into American Muslims for Palestine “for potential violations of Virginia’s charitable solicitation laws,” a recent public notice announced.
The allegations against AMP come from a civil lawsuit still pending from the HLF case by the Boim family of Illinois, seeking to collect damages from HLF funds awarded years earlier for a suicide-bombing attack that killed their son David in Israel.
This suit claims that the Islamic Association of Palestine, which is on the co-conspirator list and decommissioned itself after the 2004 HLF indictment, rebranded as American Muslims for Palestine and has evaded the Boim judgment, a claim AMP vehemently denies as a “defamatory and dangerous smear.”
Some of the groups in Attachment A are very much alive and well inside the United States, having reoriented themselves for political and educational efforts, to make material support for terrorism cases more difficult to charge, the George Washington University report concludes.
On page 5, for instance, is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which major American news organizations today, such as CNN, regularly seek out and quote about US policy toward Israel.
This is despite the fact that wiretaps and FBI agent testimony during the HLF trial showed CAIR worked as an influence operation for Hamas in the United States.
The Anti-Defamation League noted years after the trial that “CAIR leaders often traffic in antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric [and] have cultivated suspicion among the public toward a wide array of American Jewish institutions.”
A September 2013 Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report on CAIR noted, “The evidence at trial linked CAIR leaders to Hamas, a specially designated terrorist organization, and CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.” (CAIR officials denied this.)
It said Justice Department officials should not interact with the group, “to prevent CAIR from publicly exploiting such contacts with the FBI.”
Another entity on the list that never morphed into something else is the Islamic Society of North America, whose leaders raise money and have tolerated venomous anti-Jewish canards at annual conventions and conferences throughout the United States.
It stages what its website says are “youth programs, interfaith programs, chaplaincy services, matrimonials, and webinars” and publishes the bimonthly Islamic Horizons Magazine.
ISNA was among several list members that waged court battles to be removed from Attachment A, on grounds the list’s accidental publication violated their Fifth Amendment rights.
But judges always ruled the government’s evidence to the contrary was overwhelming and denied a petition for expungement.
“The evidence is … sufficient to show the association of these entities with HLF, IAP, and Hamas,” wrote US District Judge Jorge A. Solis in a 2009 opinion, which went on for many pages to enumerate evidence of their Hamas parenthood.
Solis ordered the list sealed (a decision the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed) but not expunged of any names. And so it remains public.
CAIR and other groups and people still on the unindicted co-conspirator and joint venturer list no doubt enjoy that America has largely forgotten it.
Given the Hamas network’s origin story in America and that Americans are Hamas hostages, US authorities are duty-bound to renew their vigilance now.