Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eye Witness to the Holy Land Foundation Re-Trial, Week 6

WEEK SIX Report Covering Oct 27-31, 2008
HLF Trial Update & Prayer Points

Saturday, November 1, 2008
The prosecution rests;
the bluster, indignation and contempt begins


One thing that has stood out about the defense cross examination of witnesses in the case against the Holy Land Foundation defendants and that is how little the five defense attorneys had to work with each time they were given the opportunity to challenge witness testimony. When one considers exactly what points the defense attorneys did raise in cross examination there was little substantive challenge of facts.

Instead defense attorneys have done their cross exams with a game face of bluster, indignation and contempt. When Josh Dratel comes to the podium we can be confident we are about to see bluster; Hollander does the indignation; and Moreno’s specialty is the contempt. Theatrics are what you depend on when you have no real defense.

Hopefully the jury has seen enough of this kind of thing to realize that when defense attorneys start making an issue out of things like what the definition of the word “is” is, it is nothing more than a shell game. It is the truth that is being hidden and moved around by sleight of hand techniques to confuse the jury. It is very easy to get drawn into the thinking that these cases are little more than a sporting event where attorneys are the winners and losers. (Remember the O.J. trial?)

Pray that as the defense case is presented, jurors will not be caught up in the theatrics of criminal defense. Pray they will be able to keep focused on real evidence and what is truly reasonable to draw from all they have seen. What is at stake is far greater than a bunch of attorneys who have made it their specialty to defend terrorism in the United States Courts. Pray that the jury does not lose sight of their charge to do justice on the behalf of all of the citizens of the United States.

Over the next week or so, the defense will bring witnesses who like themselves have been content not to dig too deeply into what the Holy Land Foundation was actually funding in the Palestinian territories.

The first such witness was former Congressman (D-TX) and attorney John Bryant, who represented HLF during the 1990’s when a series of Dallas Morning News investigative reports began to unearth ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. One thing from Bryant’s testimony was clear: he took his clients’ word at face value without question. The U.S. government representatives that he tried to approach on behalf of the HLF were not so na├»ve and rebuffed his efforts to get them to tell him what HLF could do to remove suspicions about their activities.

Last year the defense also called another former government witness, Edward Abington who under the Clinton administration was the US consul general in Jerusalem. After leaving that position Abington became a paid consultant to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. He reportedly received $2.5 million for those services – a fact that leaves little doubt as to where Abington’s sympathies lie.

Apparently it is his former government title that the defense hopes will impress the jury. In my view Abington came off in testimony last year resembling a ‘banty rooster’. He will likely be called to testify again this week and likely that he will stick to his testimony that Hamas is not “Islamist”. Abington will be used to undermine any empathy or trust the jury has for Israel defending itself against terrorism and the Israeli security testimony that has been heard in the trial.

Another potential expert witness for the defense is Dr. Nathan Brown who testified last year primarily seeking to discredit the testimony of the Israel Security Agency counterterrorism attorney “Avi” whose identity was shielded to protect the agent and his family from kidnap and murder plots terrorists have executed as retaliation in the past.

Dr. Brown would have to be far more dazzling than he was last year. The prosecution presented two outstanding terrorism experts with much stronger credentials in the testimony of Dr. Matthew Levitt and Dr. Bruce Hoffman. Dr. Brown is clearly outgunned in his knowledge of terrorism in general and Hamas specifically.

Pray that jurors will have great discernment about those offering viewpoints in this trial. That the truth will ring true and falsehoods be glaring.

Last year the defense only called five witnesses. They maintained that the government did not make a case against their clients. When the prosecution rested on Friday, each of the five defendants’ attorneys filed separate motions to dismiss the case which Judge Solis denied. This year the prosecution brought five witnesses they did not call last year, including former HLF-insider Imam Mohamed Shorbagi. Surely the defense attorneys do not really believe the case against their clients has not been made this year…nevertheless:

Please continue to be in prayer this week for the jurors as they begin to hear all the counter accusations of defense lawyers against the government who will be accused of Islamophobia, witch hunts, invasion of privacy and other conspiracy laced theories designed to take jurors eyes off of the evidence of Hamas terrorism affiliates in our own backyard in Dallas, Texas.

Pray Isaiah 60:18 “Violence (Hamas) will not be heard again in your land…But you will call your walls salvation (Yeshua), and your gates praise (tehillah).”

The defense can say HLF only funded things meant to raise the quality of life for Palestinians but the full array of evidence negates that claim.

One profound example of that are the video clips of kindergarten ceremonies funded by HLF. A 5 or 6 year old forcefully screaming out a hate speech against Jews as part of a presentation for an audience should tell outsiders exactly what kind of brain washing the kindergarten is trying to achieve.

Listening to that jarring expression of hatred from a pre-schooler, I thought about Hitler's rousing hate-filled speeches. I have no idea however, what could possibly have been going through the minds of many spectators whose response to the video clips was smiling and smirking. Pride? God help us. As long as children are born and raised with indoctrination of such intense hatred - encouraged to see suicide mass murder as a lifetime achievement - there will never be peace in the Middle East. This case is about not allowing funding for those kinds of indoctrinations to continue.

Everyone who prays should pray this jury will not succumb to exaggerations of the legal measure they must use to judge this case. It is not how well the defense attorneys can act with bluster, indignation and contempt that matters. They are not the issue and this trial is about far more than the sport of criminal defense.

We must put down a boundary stake in our legal system which cuts off ambiguity in terrorism financing. This is a critical case. Please continue to stand in the gap for justice to prevail.

Articles this week covering the trial by Jason Trahan, Dallas Morning News:

Holy Land prosecutors rest case; defense calls first witness

Holy Land jurors get a sample of Hamas martyr propaganda

Full collection of Trahan’s CRIME blog coverage of the HLF trial: http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/archives/holy-land-foundation/

And the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports
Israeli Official Details Zakat Committee Links to Hamas

Nine/Eleven Finding Answers
All the evidence in the HLF retrial presented in a manner that connects the dots. This is more than you ever wanted to know about the evidence, but even if you only skim over it lightly you will be able to begin to see the weight of the evidence that has been presented against the defendants.

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