A federal Grand Jury in Dallas, Texas has indicted a Muslim charity based near that city on charges of aiding the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Spokesmen for the charity deny the charges and say money collected by the group was used for legitimate purposes.
The 42-count indictment alleges that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development funneled more than $12 million to persons and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to the year 2000. Among the people named in the indictment are Holy Land's executive director, its chairman and five other men. All but two of the men are already under arrest.
In a statement about the indictment, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said: "Today [Tuesday], a U.S.-based charity that claims to do good works is charged with funding the works of evil."
Attorneys representing the charity and its officers had no immediate comment, but in previous statements they have said Holy Land, which claims to be the largest U.S. Muslim charity, provided money only to refugees, orphans and disaster victims in the Middle East.
The federal government shut down Holy Land and froze the charity's assets in December, 2001. In addition to the charges of aiding a terrorist group, the indictment accuses the group of money laundering, conspiracy to impede an investigation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and filing false tax returns.
The Holy Land charity was based in a Dallas suburb and was closely linked to a nearby technology company called InfoCom Corporation, which has also been the subject of a federal investigation.