October 22, 2007

Mistrial Declared in Holy Land Foundation Trial

The federal case against the Holy Land Foundation — formerly one of the largest Muslim charities in the United States — ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to come to a unanimous decision on the nearly 200 counts brought against the charity and five of its former officers and supporters. The government had accused the defendants of funneling money to terrorist organizations, charges they denied.

The jury, which deliberated for 19 days following the two-month trial in a Dallas federal courtroom, acquitted one of the defendants of all but one charge, which remains pending. It appeared ready to acquit two other defendants until routine questioning by the judge revealed that some of the jurists didn’t agree with the outcome, leading to a mistrial.

The Justice Department will likely retry the case against the charity, which is no longer operating but had been based in Richardson, Tex. President Bush had ordered the group shut down just months after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The group is accused of providing some $12-million to groups run by Hammas, a Palestinian militant organization the U.S. government has declared a terrorist group. The charity disavows these claims, maintaining that it was not involved with terrorism and only paid for humanitarian programs.