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Oct
04

Former Professor Loses Appeal On Refusal To Testify In Hamas Financing Investigation

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The Investigative Project is reporting that Abdelhaleem Ashqar, part of he Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas support network in the U.S., lost his appeal of his 11-year prison sentence for refusing to testify before a U.S. grand jury in 2003 that was investigating Hamas. According to the report:

A Hamas supporter who refused to tell a federal grand jury what he knew about the terrorist group’s activities in the U.S. will serve his full 11-year prison sentence for contempt of court and obstruction of justice, an appellate court ruled Friday. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all claims by Abdelhaleem Ashqar that a federal judge improperly added a “terrorism enhancement” to his sentence in November 2007. Ashqar argued that the judge should not have considered evidence about his Hamas support because jurors acquitted him of racketeering in his trial. But the opinion from Judge Diane P. Wood dismissed that…During his sentencing hearing, Ashqar acknowledged that his refusal to answer grand jury questions, despite a grant of immunity, stemmed from his desire to stay loyal: “I don’t want to become a traitor or collaborator. I don’t want to turn against my people.” His appeal also argued that the government had not sufficiently proved his contempt was part of an attempt to promote a terror-related crime. The 7th Circuit rejected that, too:”Promoting a crime includes helping and encouraging that crime, and one way of furthering a crime is to try to prevent the government from finding out about it.” Ashqar’s cause was championed by a number of Islamist groups in America. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago blasted the sentence as “excessive” and “politically-motivated.” Then-Muslim American Society President Esam Omeish wrote to Judge St. Eve before the sentencing to urge leniency…

A post from November 2007 discussed the background to the conviction of Dr. Ashqar:

U.S. media has reported that a former professor accused of being part of a Hamas support network was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison Wednesday for refusing to testify before a U.S. grand jury in 2003 that was investigating Hamas. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 49, a former associate professor of business at Washington’s Howard University, was convicted earlier this year on criminal contempt and obstruction of justice charges for his refusal to testify but he and codefendant Muhammad Salah were acquitted of participating in a racketeering conspiracy aimed at financing Hamas. (Salah was later sentenced to 22 months in prison after being convicted of lying in a civil suit concerning Hamas support.) Public records indicate that in 1993, Ashqar was the Registered Agent for the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund in Mississippi which, according to various FBI documents, was the original collection point for Hamas fund-raising in the U.S before it was replaced by the Holy Land Foundation in 1994. Documents released as part of the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial indicate the the Hamas fund-raising and support network in the U.S. was an integral part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

Appellate court ruling can be found here.

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