Based on several news accounts of the Holy Land Foundation trial going on here in Dallas, I sure don’t see a slam-dunk for the prosecutors as jurors complete four days of deliberation.
The government alleges that the foundation and seven of its organizers illegally sent at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. It’s the largest case of its kind to be tried so far.
Similar cases have ended in acquittal, and it’s not hard to see why: these matters are inherently complex, involve ancient enmities between ethnic and religious groups, and require jurors to make decisions that seasoned diplomats have a hard time making.
Did the Holy Land members know their money was being funneled to Hamas through “shell” organizations that essentially laundered the cash, which Hamas used to buy weapons and reward the families of suicide bombers? Or did they believe it was all going to buy schoolbooks and medical care? That’s got to be a tough and tangled question.
There are seven attorneys involved for the defense, and the jury’s instructions from the judge ran to more than an hour. The judge tried to read the instructions, but his voice gave out and an assistant had to finish. The judge also replaced a juror with an alternate yesterday, but didn’t reveal his reason for doing so.
I hope the government made its case, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the jury hopelessly split. As I’ve noted before, we need ways of fighting terror with lawbooks and money trails rather than bombs and guns. But if they can’t convince juries beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s not going to happen.