HLF Trial Update & Prayer Points
October 4, 2008
The "willing suspension of disbelief"
refers to the willingness of a person
to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction,
even if they are fantastic or impossible.
The person, or audience, tacitly agrees to provisionally
suspend their judgment in exchange for a satisfying personal payoff.
This is exactly what the defense attorneys in the Holy Land Foundation are asking the jury to do concerning all the evidence that has been presented over the past two weeks through Hamas and counter terrorism expert Dr. Matthew Levitt, Christian FBI Arabic translator Ataf Shafik, and FBI agent Lara Burns, a lead investigator in the decade long investigation of the Holy Land Foundation.
The payoff defense attorneys are appealing to on the jury panel judging this case is, of course, the public distrust that exists of governmental authorities. The Word of God however instructs us in Romans 13:3-4 differently about government authorities:
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Pray for the fulfillment of this verse in this HLF terrorism financing case before the Federal Court in Dallas.
For two weeks jurors have seen bank records, videos, wire tap audios, surveillance photos, in-house HLF documentation and declarations from the defendants themselves, yet the Defense proposes that nothing counts until 1995 when the U.S. government finally officially declared Hamas a terrorist organization. (See the evidence online at the US District Court website.)
The Defense is asking the jury to pretend like the consistent history of these 5 defendants has nothing to do with the charges against them of materially supporting a terrorist organization. The defense also asks the jury to forget about the multiple family connections of the defendants with the highest echelons of Hamas leaders including those family Hamas members funding the startup of HLF and presiding over disputes with other Islamist fundraisers.
The jury saw numerous videos that have been seized in FBI searches at various locations over the years that show, among other things, HLF fundraisers where skits are performed depicting murder of Jewish soldiers and Israeli citizens. Songs are also performed extolling suicide attackers killing Jews, glorifying “martyrdom” of jihadists and giving their blood to wipe the Jews out of Israel. Very often children from 4 or 5 years old to 12 participated in the performance singing the songs, marching in step and waving flags. It was troubling during these displays to realize that these are “home movies” for the families of the defendants.
I watched in horror as the children – some now grown - of several of the defendants were giggling between themselves recognizing themselves as little children performing in the fundraisers. Later as an audio tape was being played of a wire tap telephone call excitedly informing one of the defendants of 2 suicide bus bombings 30 minutes apart in Jerusalem in February 1996, one young teenager was giggling hearing the background noise of the call: a child playfully screaming in the defendant’s home. Like the “home movies” these phone calls are like “home audios” of their childhood. “Train up a child in the way he shall go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” How sad that these are normal activities and conversations in the life of the defendants’ children and families.
Yet the defendants are laughing up their sleeve because they know our system of law favors them being able to slither out of these charges because the jury has had their eyes taken off the ball by Defense attorneys focusing them on insignificant details to obscure the truth. We all can remember how that was accomplished in the O.J. Simpson trial, right? The jury must decide if these men are part of the Hamas terrorist organization in the U.S. Pray they will fulfill that charge in the interest of the American public safety.
As the defense stepped up to cross examine FBI agent Burns yesterday, we began to see the insignificant details ‘gotcha’ game come into play.
v Defense Attorney Linda Moreno (who represents Ghassan Elashi) majored on emphasizing that the dates of many of the damning videos and other government evidence introduced being dated or produced prior to the 1995 U.S. designation of Hamas. As if their life work up to 1995 did not count. She tried to introduce another “Ghassan” to make it seem the government had the wrong guy, and also tried to imply that the HLF acted exactly like the Red Cross.
Pray that jurors will not be willing to suspend disbelief that these men were aggressively committed to Hamas before the U.S. designation when they suddenly dropped all their prior life work of support and aid of Hamas because now Hamas was illegal by U.S. law. Pray for wisdom and clear thinking to prevail among the jury and to realize this is not just a sports event between lawyers, but whether terrorists are allowed free reign in our nation.
v Moreno is also sitting on top of all the defendants in how they are presenting themselves during the trial. I have seen her coaching them on what not to do – like instructing Elashi not to listen to testimony with ‘praying hands’ positioned to his face, or for Shukri Bakr not to sit with arms folded across his chest.
Pray for these efforts to present a false face to falter and for wise counsel in deception to fail. Continue to pray for the spirit of deceptive cover to be disintegrated by the Lord.
v Defense Attorney Nancy Hollander (who represents Shukri abu Bakr) majored on two themes so far. (1) emphasizing how long the FBI has been wiretapping the defendants and trying to bring the jury to relate to the privacy issues over the national security issues. This was the issue that effectively locked the jury last year from being able to concentrate on whether these men are Hamas and working against U.S. interests.
Pray that any who are given to distrust the government more than the Islamist terror organizations in our nation will see the light – that God will give the clarity of the issues and Divine wisdom to judge.
(2) Hollander is also trying to make truly insignificant details seem like a vast government conspiracy against the defendants. Judge Solis did not allow her to dispute these items before the jury and over the weekend she has to show exact examples for the judge to rule on before proceeding. She is also trying to bring the Christian Arab FBI translator into disrepute by saying his translations are not accurate. Pray that Ataf Shafik will not be slimed by false accusation – the differences in word translations Hollander is proposing is miniscule (like the meaning differences between “rebuilding” and “refurbishing”, for example).
After the lunch break on Friday as we waited for the resumption of Hollander’s cross examination of FBI agent Lara Burns, Shukri Bakr came over to talk to a boy sitting in the row in front of me with one of the defendant’s wives. I turned away from them but heard Shukri encouraging the boy about the trial “Next Year in Jerusalem” – they would all go to Jerusalem. In case you don’t know, this is a Jewish New Years’ saying that Jews have greeted each other with for centuries in their exile from Israel. I’m sure Shukri was just trying to provoke me to reaction. He didn’t. Pray that what these men have sown in their life association with Hamas, they will now reap during the processes of this trial.
v Defense Attorney Gregory Westfall (who represents Abdulrahman Odeh) is a Fort Worth attorney who does a down home Texas version of Peter Falk’s Columbo character when he is before the jury.
Pray the jury doesn’t buy into any of the false imagery they are being presented in this case – that God gives them supernatural discernment to judge between lies and truth.
Westfall is painting Odeh as a boy scout, humanitarian but anytime a business is used as a front to disguise the real criminal ‘business’ of the parties, they will carry out normal legal business as a cover for the criminal activity they are trying to hide.
Pray that jurors are not fooled by evidence of legitimate charity done by HLF while disguising terrorist support activities.
Westfall is also beating the drum on how long the government has been wiretapping the defendants, pointing out 9 years on defendant El Mezain and 5 years of Shukri. The implication is that in all those years the government has very little damning evidence captured on tape – however that overlooks that a criminal conspiracy protects itself by trying to never let down its guard. The moments it does are the moments law enforcement make their cases on. Pray that the jury will not be moved by false fronts and cover stories thrown up by the lawyers or the defendants.
On Tuesday last week, I made the mistake of being herded into an elevator full of the defense attorneys and Shukri Bakr. I stood in a back corner with attorney Greg Westfall to one side of me, atty Nancy Hollander in front of me and defendant Shukri Bakr on the other side of me. Westfall struck up a conversation with me – toying with me, of course – introducing himself and when I did not respond in kind, he asked me outright who I was. Still I hesitated from answering then Shukri Bakr said, “Donna. You are Donna?” I answered, Yes. Westfall then asked me if I found the trial interesting and I answered ‘Totally.’ As the elevator doors opened he replied that the fun just never quits coming. They actually believe there are taking the high ground in defending the indefensible: terrorism. It was an uncomfortable elevator ride and I will never make that mistake again.
These attorneys and defendants do not believe our God will answer our prayers about this trial. I have nothing to prove to them or to anyone else. But I am a citizen of the United States who cares greatly whether we are going to allow terrorists to raise funds in the U.S. so the terrorist group Hamas can continue to expand its influence and reign of terror.
Hamas, you have to understand, opposes all peace negotiations with Israel. Their outcome is that not “one hand’s span” of “Muslim” land remain “occupied” by Israel. The Islamist slogan is, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” meaning, first the Jews, then the Christians.
Please continue to pray for God’s justice to prevail in this case and for the protection of all involved in it. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent. If fear keeps Americans silent when cases like this are being conducted, then Islamists will overtake us. Lift up your voices to God for His justice to be executed on these men and upon those who are associated with them throughout this D/FW region and within the U.S. Is there not a cause?
Thanking you for your prayers over this trial,
On a related note: See the article by Messianic Jewish pastor, Ron Cantor, of King of Kings congregation in Jerusalem, “Sharia Don’t Like It”which discusses a bill that has been introduced by Republican Tom Tancredo, “The Jihad Prevention Act” which would banish Sharia law and its advocates from the United States. Cantor’s article is based on this article also found on his site:
Bill Would Ban Sharia Law and Advocates from U.S.
Monday September 22, 2008
By Robert Longley (about.com)
Sharia law, and its advocates, would be banished from the United States under "The Jihad Prevention Act" just introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado, 6th).
Sharia law is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of "Haram" offenses such as premarital sex and adultery.
Tancredo's bill would bar foreign nationals who advocate Sharia law from entering the United States and make advocacy of Sharia law a deportable offense.
"Any alien who fails to attest, in accordance with procedures specified by the Secretary of Homeland Security, that the alien will not advocate installing a Sharia law system in the United States is inadmissible."
"Advocating the installation of a Sharia law system in the United States shall constitute a ground for revocation of a person's naturalization under this subsection."
The United Kingdom recently declared the decisions of the five Sharia courts operating within the U.K. to be legally enforceable. "Today the British people are learning a hard lesson about the consequences of massive, unrestricted immigration," said Tancredo in a press release.
"When you have an immigration policy that allows for the importation of millions of radical Muslims, you are also importing their radical ideology – an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the foundations of western democracy – such as gender equality, pluralism, and individual liberty," declared Tancredo.