"It's hard to accept because I don't believe the gentlemen are guilty," John Wolf, a member of the nationwide Hungry for Justice coalition, told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, November 25.
A federal court in Dallas on Monday, November 25, convicted the Holy Land Foundation, once America's biggest Muslim charity, and five officials of 108 criminal counts, including support of terrorism, money laundering and tax fraud.
They are accused of funneling $12 million to the Palestinian group Hamas, designated terrorist by the US.
"These guys are the sweetest, clean-hearted people," stressed Wolf who had known the defendants for 12 years.
"We think the defendants are completely innocent," agrees Khalil Meek, a longtime spokesman for the Muslim community in North Texas and a spokesman for the Hungry for Justice.
"We intend to appeal the verdict, and we remain convinced that we will win."
In October of last year a US District court judge declared a mistrial on almost all of the counts against the Holy Land charity.
Government prosecutors allege the foundation raised millions of dollars for Hamas, but they do not accuse the charity of directly financing "militant" activities.
Instead prosecutors say humanitarian aid was used to promote Hamas and allow it to divert existing funds to "militant" activities.
The case has been a cause célèbre for American Muslims since the government froze the charity's assets, totaling millions of dollars, less than two months after the 9/11 attacks.
Mohamed Elibiary, president of the Freedom and Justice Foundation, said the case highlights the unfair scrutiny that US Muslims have been subjected to in post-9/11 America.
"The community sentiment…was that this was a political trial trying to achieve a government policy."
Elibiary said Muslims are offended by the government's list of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators, which includes Muslim leaders and groups in the US.
"That list implicates most of the Muslim community in a wider conspiracy."
Many slammed the verdict as part of a government policy to criminalize aid to impoverished Palestinians.
"It looks like helping the needy Palestinians is a crime these days," fumed Mohammed Wafa Yaish, Holy Land's former accountant and a witness of the trial.
"What does giving charity to the Palestinians in the refugee camps have to do with this?"
Meek, the North Texas community leader, agrees.
"The criminalization of legitimate charitable giving is not just an attack on the American Muslim community; it is an attack on every American who believes in the moral duty to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick."
Mustafaa Carroll of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) accused the government of selectively prosecuting the Muslim charity.
"The same charities that these guys gave to the American Red Cross is still giving to, the USAID is still giving to."
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