Some Charges Tossed in Case Against Muslim Charity

September 2, 2008

Author: Jeff Carlton

Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors have dropped most charges against two men accused of helping a Muslim charity finance terrorism, an apparent sign that the government will focus its case on two other men who were leaders of the group.

Leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based in Richardson, Texas, are accused of funneling millions of dollars to the Middle Eastern group Hamas, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization.

A trial last year resulted in no convictions and a mistrial on most charges, leading prosecutors to narrow their aim for the second trial, scheduled to begin Sept. 15.

In a motion filed last week in federal court in Dallas, prosecutors requested the dismissal of nearly 30 counts against Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh. The men each will still face three conspiracy counts that could send them to prison, if convicted, for 55 years.

Jurors in the first trial found Abdulqader and Odeh not guilty on many of the non-conspiracy charges, but the judge declared a mistrial. That meant prosecutors could have tried them again on those counts.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Orwig praised the decision as "a better, smarter way to try this case."