HLF Insider Ties Charity to Hamas
October 17, 2008
DALLAS – A former fund raiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) testified Friday that money from the foundation went to Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas.
Mohamed Shorbagi said he knew this through Hamas literature, a London-based Hamas website and word-of mouth.
Shorbagi pleaded guilty in August 2006 to providing material support to Hamas by routing money to HLF. According to his plea agreement, he “made regular monetary contributions to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) on behalf of himself and others, knowing that HLF then supplied some or all of that money to HAMAS, including donations made after October 26, 2001.”
He agreed to testify for the government in hopes of reducing his seven-year prison sentence. But that doesn’t mean he has changed his views.
Under questioning from federal prosecutor James Jacks, Shorbagi unapologetically stated that he is an Islamist, a supporter of Hamas and Sharia law. As a former HLF insider, his testimony could help the government’s case against HLF and five former officials. They are accused of illegally sending millions of dollars through Palestinian charities, called zakat committees, controlled by the terrorist group.
In Palestine, most organizations are run by either Hamas or the secular Fatah movement, Shorbagi said. Based upon the charities and individuals who received HLF money, Shorbagi concluded they were connected to Hamas. “When you know money goes to Mahmud Zahar, you know money goes to Hamas.”
Some of those organizations were charities that distributed food and others were schools where children were taught Islamist ideology.
Shorbagi became the imam for a mosque in Rome, Georgia in 1993. Among his responsibilities was the collection of zakat, or charity, at the mosque. He said he sent all the money collected to HLF. Haitham Maghawri, a named defendant in the case who lives abroad, and defendant Mohamed El-Mezain were his main contacts.
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