Backgrounder: The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
Connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas
Posted: May 28, 2009
Documents and evidence released during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial showed that the charity was part of an apparatus set up in the U.S. to support efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
HLF was part of the Palestine Committee, an organizational structure that operated in the U.S. in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian offshoot, Hamas. The Palestine Committee included the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), both Hamas-linked anti-Semitic propaganda organizations.
The UASR, a Virginia based think tank, was founded by Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzuq. In 2006 UASR's director, Ahmed Yousef, became personal adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. The IAP, described by the U.S. government as part of "Hamas' propaganda apparatus," distributed official Hamas communiqués and the Hamas Charter.
HLF operated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity organization. It was founded in 1987 in Los Angeles, California, as the Occupied Land Fund (OLF) by its President and CEO, Shukri Abu-Baker. In 1991, it changed its name to HLF, and it moved to Richardson, Texas in 1993.
Below are some examples of how HLF supported Hamas:
- In 1997, Israel banned the Jerusalem-based HLF as a Hamas front group. That year, Israel raided the group's headquarters and seized documents that allegedly linked the Jerusalem office with the HLF in the U.S. Israel security also arrested the Jerusalem HLF's director, Mohamed Anati, for purportedly distributing monthly stipends to families of Hamas suicide bombers. During the HLF trial, the government exhibited a document from 1994 that was signed by Abu-Baker and Anati recognizing HLF Jerusalem as the "sole agency in the West Bank and Jerusalem" of the Richardson-based charity.
- In October 1993, several representatives of HLF and IAP attended a meeting in meeting in Philadelphia of the Palestine Committee, which was set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to support Hamas, according to evidence presented during the trial. Those present discussed supporting Hamas in the United States through fundraising and political activity, and countering the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.
- A March 1993 HLF Ramadan appeal pledge card declared, "Yes. I can and want to help needy families of Palestinian martyrs, prisoners and deportees."
- An October 1992 IAP memo, which was submitted as evidence in the HLF trial, described the history of the Muslim Brotherhood's involvement in Palestinian politics. It mentioned the founding of IAP and HLF (OLF in the document), as well as the launching of Hamas. It also listed resolutions reached by the Muslim Brotherhood movement, including "supporting the continuation of the intifada," and "the completion of formation of Palestine committees… publicizing and focusing on the savagery of the Jews in Palestine." According to the document, IAP and HLF were part of "a Palestine Committee" formed in consultation between U.S.-based activists and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, and were part of a structure that functioned to support Hamas, the movement's "tool and striking wing."
- According to IRS records, more than 10% of HLF funds in 1992 came from Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzuq.
- A 1992 letter from the Islamic Relief Committee, one of the Palestinian entities that received money from HLF, was found at the home of Ismail Elbarrase, an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. That letter praised the killing of Jews and asked for support, including weapons, for the mujahideen. The letter, one of the documents presented by the prosecution during the trial, stated:
"You do not know how happy people become when they watch those Mujahideen and how proud they feel when they parade in their uniforms and weapons and the extent of their honor when they carry out their Jihadist operations against the Jews and their tentacles…. Jihad in Palestine is different from any Jihad; the meaning of killing a Jew for the liberation of Palestine cannot be compared to any Jihad on earth…provide us with what helps us of funds and weapons. Weapons, weapons, our brothers."
- A document dated May 1992 that was authored by Mohamed Akram (Adlouni), which was presented as evidence during the HLF trial, detailed the efforts and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., which the document described as a "Civilization-Jihadist Process." The document, titled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America," listed OLF, IAP and UASR, along with national Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America and Islamic Circle of North America, under "a list of our organizations and organizations of our friends." Akram served on the UASR board of directors.
- A March 1991 IAP fundraising letter urged supporters to send funds to the OLF to support the Intifada.
- In November 1990, IAP and OLF organized a fund-raising dinner at Culver City, California, under the name "Intifada." The Arabic flyer advertising event included a drawing of a wall covered with graffiti and signed "Hamas." One of the writings said: "The Jihad is the way and there are no alternatives to it." The invitation noted that the event was being held "for the start of the fourth year of the Intifada and in commemoration of the launching of Hamas."
- In 1989, at an IAP and OLF-sponsored event, a masked man reportedly took the stage to praise Hamas, describing the "oceans of blood" it would bring on the Israelis. He also thanked the two organizations, singling them for being early allies of Hamas. Other speakers praised Hamas, and a Hamas banner draped the table from which they spoke, according to a newspaper report.
- An OLF 1988 fundraising letter stated, "Is it not out of honesty and sincerity that we all be brothers to the martyr's widow? Should we not stand by her and compensate her children for what they lost by their father's martyrdom?" The letter also informed supporters that "Muhammad Siyyam…who visited North America [has] supported the (OLF)." Siyyam is a Hamas leader. The letter said that the OLF is sponsored by IAP.