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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Islamic charity called a 'money-laundering clearinghouse' for Hamas

A former FBI terrorism expert told a federal jury Monday that an Islamic institute served as 'a money-laundering clearinghouse' for the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

'It was an important part of the larger Hamas conspiracy,' said Matthew Levitt, director of terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The testimony came in a lawsuit filed by Joyce and Stanley Boim, the parents of an American teenager shot to death by two Hamas militants in Israel eight years ago.

They say the Quranic Literacy Institute of suburban Oak Lawn, two Islamic charities and an alleged Hamas fundraiser, Mohammed Salah, bankrolled the purchase of weapons by Hamas and thus are responsible for the death of their 17-year-old son.

He was shot to death while waiting for a bus in the West Bank. The Boims are Americans who moved to Israel in 1985. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys already has found that Salah, the two charities, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Islamic Association for Palestine, helped to finance Hamas and so are liable in the Boim death.

The Boims are suing under a federal law that says Americans who are victims of terrorism abroad can go to court for damages against U.S.-based organizations that raise funds to finance such activities.