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But the grand jury investigation is likely targeting more than simply opposition to “unjust policy.” The most prominent recent case targeting funding of Palestinian terror involved the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), once the largest U.S. Muslim charity. In 2008, a federal jury found the HLF and five of its officers guilty on 108 counts related to lending “material support to a foreign terrorist organization.” The five were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 65 years. Between 1995 and 2001 the HLF funneled more than $12 million to groups connected to Hamas. In separate prosecutions as recent as October 2010, at least three other HLF operatives have been convicted of providing material support to the Islamist group that rules Gaza. In 2006 Florida professor Sami Al-Arian pleaded guilty to channeling funds to Palestine Islamic Jihad, another “specially designated terrorist” organization.
Clearly, there is a problem of U.S. donations going to Palestinian terrorist groups, and it would appear reasonable for a U.S. attorney to investigate. So why are the Presbyterian groups not awaiting the evidence and instead wanting to shut down Fitzgerald’s grand jury? IPMN activist Jeff Story’s affiliation with the National Lawyers Guild, a longtime radical leftist group, suggests an answer. The guild says that it “represent[s] progressive political movements, using the law to protect human rights above property interests.” The guild was established in 1937 as a “popular front” of the Communist International, designed to include both communists and non-communists. It is affiliated with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, which the CIA in 1978 characterized as “one of the most useful Communist front organizations at the service of the Soviet Communist Party.”
Over the years, guild lawyers have mounted aggressive, politicized defenses of the likes of the Chicago Seven rioters in 1968, the Black Panthers, and the communist professor Angela Davis. More recently, the guild has a pattern of defending Islamist militants accused of involvement in terrorism. These include Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian Islamic cleric convicted of plotting a campaign of “urban terrorism” including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; Sami Al-Arian (see above); and many of the suspects detained in Guantanamo. Guild lawyer Lynne Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of passing messages between the imprisoned Rahman and his Islamic Group terrorist organization.
The guild has endorsed the Palestine Liberation Organization as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” After 9-11, it advised U.S. Muslim immigrants not to cooperate in FBI anti-terrorism investigations. “The FBI is not just trying to find terrorists, but is gathering information on immigrants and activists who have done nothing wrong,” the radical lawyers’ group then charged.
Obviously, it’s too early to reach any conclusions about Patrick’s Fitzgerald’s current grand jury and its subpoenas of pro-Palestinian activists. But the rush by Presbyterian groups to oppose any investigation of funding for Palestinian terror seems to be only one more instance of reflexive pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias within the denomination’s leading circles.
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