Holy Land Foundation Court Case Puts Burden On Muslim Charities to Explain Where Money Goes

January 4, 2009

Author: Jason Trahan

Source: The Dallas Morning News


American Muslims are finding it more difficult to donate money to help Palestinian refugees and other Middle Eastern causes because of court decisions showing that some charities were using the money for terrorism.

On Nov. 24, the formerly Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation and five of its organizers were found guilty in a Dallas federal court of sending millions of dollars to Palestinian charity committees controlled by banned group Hamas.

A week later, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago delivered another blow, upholding a $156 million civil judgment against Holy Land, which had previously been found liable for the death of an American-Israeli teenager, David Boim, killed by Hamas gunmen in 1996.

"This creates a fundamental Catch-22 for all U.S. charities and grant-makers that do any kind of international work," said Kay Guinane, a lawyer who monitors legislative and regulatory effects on nonprofits for OMB Watch, which advocates openness in government.

"Either you risk having your group shut down, your funds frozen and your leaders prosecuted by providing aid in international hot spots where people are neediest, or you stay away to stay safe," she said. "Neither choice is acceptable for a society that prides itself on its respect for human life."