Opening statements were made in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its top officials, charged with aiding terrorists, conspiracy and money laundering. The trial is expected to last several months and caps an FBI investigation that lasted more than a decade. Federal agents raided the foundation's offices in December 2001.
Prosecutor James T. Jacks said the foundation was created to raise money for Hamas. The charity's leaders lied about their purpose "because to tell the truth is to reveal what they were all about - the destruction of the state of Israel and replacing it with a Palestinian Islamic state," he said. Some of the money went to support the families of suicide bombers, according to authorities.
Defense attorneys were to make their opening statement. They say the foundation, once the largest Muslim charity in the United States, supported humanitarian efforts in Palestinian neighborhoods and didn't knowingly aid Hamas. (Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections last year and took control of Gaza earlier this year. )
The five men on trial aren't accused of being terrorists. Rather, they are charged with funneling $36 million to individuals and groups tied to Hamas, including $12.4 million sent after President Clinton's designation [of Hamas as a terrorist organization.].
[Excerpt from Forbes magazine article]