Monday, October 13, 2003

Sometimes the law has something

Ashqar is a key figure in the web of American organizations which funnel money to Hamas and ultimately bring about hundreds of civilian deaths through terrorist actions. Without getting into the relative merits of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, I don't think that I go very far out on a limb to say that Hamas is a destructive force and one of the major impediments to a lasting peace between the two sides. Hamas terrorizes both Israeli civilians and Palestinian leaders who wish to pursue a peace that does not include the obliteration of Israel. Basically, I would put people who actually belong to and work for Hamas on the legitimate list of evildoers.

Ashqar's organization, the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund was one of the two major U.S. organizations funneling money to Hamas. In 1994, he attended a planning meeting with representatives of the other organization, Holy Land Foundation For Relief and Development, and senior Hamas leaders, which was taped by the FBI. HLF was just declared a "terrorist organization" by Barry's future employer, the D.C. Circuit. The opinion can be found at Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156 (D.C. Cir. 2003).

He has dodged several subpoenas, including one in the civil case that I am working on. While I agree that much of what the government is doing right now is beyond the pale, I don't have much of a problem with the contempt sanctions in general or their application to Al-Ashqar. He is in the predicament he is in because he refuses to cooperate with several legitimate legal proceedings. He has the option of asserting his Fifth Amendment rights in response to particular questions should the answers be incriminating. He refuses to even do this. I have no doubt that the man has fortitude, but there comes some point at which the legal system--especially that which existed pre-9/11--must be respected.

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