The United States on Tuesday put on trial one of the biggest domestic enemies of its ally Israel - a Texas-based Muslim charity that is accused of having raised funds for the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was for years the largest Muslim charity in the US.
Over the course of a decade-long investigation, FBI officials learned that the organization was transferring the bulk of its massive yearly donations to Hamas via its offices in Gaza and the so-called “West Bank.” The money was purportedly earmarked for humanitarian purposes, but was in fact helping to support the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, thereby encouraging additional local Arabs to blow themselves up among Israeli Jews secure in the knowledge that their families would reap financial benefits from their grisly actions.
As the trial opened on Tuesday, US federal prosecutors said the Holy Land Foundation was an integral component of Hamas' long-term goal of destroying the Jewish state.
“The charity's leaders lied about their purpose because to tell the truth is to reveal what they were all about - the destruction of the state of Israel and replacing it with a Palestinian Islamic state,” prosecutor James T. Jacks was quoted by The Associated Press as saying in his opening statement.
Defense attorneys claimed ignorance on behalf of their clients, insisting that the Holy Land Foundation was unaware its financial gifts were being used to support Hamas terrorism.
The trial is expected to last several months.