Skip to comments.Aid push made for 5 tied to Hamas - backers seek to raise $500,000 for Muslim brothers' legal team
Posted on 02/15/2003 6:13:34 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Aid push made for 5 tied to Hamas
Backers seek to raise $500,000 for Muslim brothers' legal team
Supporters of five brothers accused of doing business with Middle Eastern terrorists are asking the Dallas-area Muslim community to help raise $500,000 to pay for a team of prominent attorneys hired to defend the men.
The Muslim Legal Fund of America, a nonprofit group established by friends of Richardson businessman Ghassan Elashi and his brothers, is having a fund-raiser Saturday at the Dallas Central Mosque.
A leaflet distributed by the fund described the collection effort as "Cash & Gold for Justice" and asked for tax-exempt donations of currency or gold jewelry. "We must raise $500,000 in five months," the leaflet said.
The leaflet referred to aiding "innocent Dallas-area Muslims" without naming specific people. But the mosque's Web site identified Saturday's event as a benefit for the Elashis. The fund's Web site said a task force had selected attorneys for the brothers.
The Elashis, who operate InfoCom Corp., an Internet services company in Richardson, were arrested in December on charges of doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a top political leader of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.
Mr. Marzook, who now lives in Syria, has denounced the criminal charges as false and politically motivated. Supporters of the Elashis, who have pleaded not guilty to all charges, have voiced similar sentiments.
Ghassan Elashi is also a co-founder and board chairman of Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Richardson charity closed by the U.S. government in December 2001 after being accused of being a financial front for Hamas.
The government alleges that Mr. Marzook and his wife, Nadia, a cousin of the Elashi brothers, invested $250,000 with InfoCom and earned interest, even after the government designated him a terrorist and barred business deals with him.
The Elashi brothers have maintained that their dealings were legal and with Mrs. Marzook only. An attorney for the Marzooks has said money earned from the InfoCom investment never left the United States and was used to defray family expenses.
The 33-count indictments also charge the Elashis with illegally exporting computer components to Syria and Libya, two nations the United States has deemed sponsors of international terrorism.
One Elashi brother, Ihsan, is serving a 48-month prison sentence for violating the suspension of his own computer company's export license. Three other brothers - Bayan, Basman and Hazim - are being detained on accusations of immigration violations. Ghassan Elashi is free on personal bond but is required to wear an electronic monitor.
The trial of all five brothers is scheduled for early October.
"All I can tell you is the community is behind the Elashi brothers, and they are caught in a kind of political game," said Mohamed Elmougy, chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Mr. Elmougy confirmed the fund-raising event but declined to provide details. He said those in charge of the legal defense fund declined to be interviewed.
Tim Evans, an attorney for Ghassan Elashi, referred questions about the Muslim Legal Fund to Dallas attorney Michael Linz, who often works on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Linz could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Evans, who has offices in Fort Worth, was one of four attorneys listed by the Muslim Legal Fund as counselors for the Elashi brothers. The other attorneys were Jeff Kearney of Fort Worth and Richard Anderson and Mike Gibson of Dallas.
Mr. Evans and Mr. Kearney represented surviving members of the Branch Davidian sect on federal charges stemming from the deaths of four federal agents during a raid on the complex. Mr. Gibson represented Fort Worth millionaire Cullen Davis on murder charges.
Mr. Evans is a former board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Mr. Gibson is a former board member of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He, Mr. Evans, Mr. Kearney and Mr. Anderson are listed in the criminal defense section of the legal referral guide "Best Lawyers in America."
The Muslim Legal Fund's Web site does not mention Dallas attorney Marlo Cadeddu, the court-appointed defense attorney for Ihsan Elashyi.
The fund was established in December 2001, two weeks after the shutdown of Holy Land Foundation, according to state corporation records. The registered agent's address was the home of a board member of Holy Land Foundation.
The leaflet for Saturday's fund-raiser states that it was designed by Minaret Management Group, a company listed in state corporation records as operating from the home of Shukri Abu Baker, former president of Holy Land Foundation.
The Muslim Legal Fund's Web site lists its board of directors as a former board chairman of CAIR, a current CAIR board member, a former president of the Dallas chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, the president of the Lewisville/Flower Mound Islamic association, and the owner of a Plano Web site business.
The board of advisers includes Yusuf Kavacki, prayer leader of the Dallas Central Mosque; two former board chairmen of the mosque; the mosque's attorney and spokesman; and Moujahed Bakhach, imam of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County.
The Dallas mosque and its Tarrant County counterpart were customers of InfoCom Corp. Basman Elashi was a former board member of the mosque, and his brother, Ghassan, was prominent in the mosque-affiliated Islamic school.
Muslim Legal Defense Fund of America - MLFA
Several Dallas-area Muslim organizations, along with the are working together arrested in December. Who: MLFA What: FUNDRAISER When: FEB 15, 2003 Where: Dallas Central Mosque Why: To raise money for the legal defense of four Elashi brothers How: Everyone come to support this effort
Dallas Central Mosque ... [Map it!]
840 Abrams Road
Richardson, TX 75081
I used to live in Richardson, just about a mile north on the west side of Central Expressway...
These fundraising groups are like internet porn peddlers - boiler room operations. You locate 'em and they pop up in the next town under a new name. Heck, they only need a laptop and a park bench to launch an attack. Thanks, Bill and Al! They helped diminish God and family while wiring the uncivilized world.