The Divisive Politics of Irvine

I’ve been following Irvine politics for about 10 years now.  When my daughter’s soccer coach emailed me Chuck DeVore’s blogpost about my earlier Choi post here (and thanks for the hits Chuck, we appreciate it), I wanted to make a stronger statement that needs saying.

The non-partisan City Council race in Irvine is frankly less about partisan politics than it is about two totally different perspectives about what it means to serve the people of this great city.

There’s a competition between those who divide us and those who try to unite us.  There are those who work to benefit the community and those who want to enhance themselves personally. The TeamIrvine ticket Christina Shea and Steven Choi believe they are important. There is no open government unless somehow they have a final say in a decision.  I watched with amusement as they attempted to hijack a matching grant to the Irvine Public Schools Foundation to make up for their lack of record on education.  The IPSF had to apologize for sending out an email promoting a fundraiser for Sukhee Kang; in my view, no apology was necessary.  The IPSF was simply helping a candidate with a real track record of helping schools. Shea took offense.  The reality is, we voters should take offense that she has done so little to support our excellent schools over the years.

Sukhee Kang, Beth Krom and Larry Agran, elected officials, and Todd Gallinger, a community activist on the Keep Irvine Great Ticket, believe the community is important.

The divisive comments by Choi, Shea and Patrick Rodgers in regards to CAIR at last Friday’s Irvine Chamber Breakfast remind me of the history that Shea and Choi have for dividing the community, as they tried to do with the Chinese and Taiwanese community back in 2006 (protesters were pretty much bused in). Kang, Krom and Agran have worked to build an inclusive community in which all citizens are encouraged to be civically involved.Choi has indicted City Council candidate Todd Gallinger on the basis of Todd’s muslim faith. Irvine is a community of many faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormon and every conceivable branch of Christianity. Irvine hosts to a Jewish Community Center and an Islamic Center. In a City where education is valued, children — my children — learn tolerance and respect every day because of the diverse mix of faiths and cultures in their classes.

With his post, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a man whose partisan views are so extreme that a number of Republicans roll their eyes behind his back, has weighed in in defense of Steven Choi’s inflammatory remarks about Todd Gallinger and his indictment of CAIR. It gave Chuck a chance, as he so often does, to regurgitate his resume.  But what’s telling in the post and its defense of Choi and Shea, is that its a signed confession of just how out of touch these people are with the City they live in.

Steven Choi, in my opinion, is unfit to hold public office. He has disgraced the whole community with his remarks.  I am embarrassed for him.  A real man would either apologize or resign.  But he isn’t that kind of man.  I’m reminded that, as an IUSD trustee, he won a $10,000 in an Irvine Public Schools Foundation raffle, but instead of turning over the entire amount, he gave back $1,000 to the organization. 

I’m told Choi used his school board position to solicit teachers to work in his business, while paying them peanuts as he cashed in. Is it realy true that he arranged for Irvine police to stake out his campaign signs?  Did he have a member of his homeowners association reported to the District Attorney for prosecution just because this associatioin member thought campaign signs all over his neighborhood were a blight? Steven Choi has shown his true character.  And he’s already looking ahead to run for assembly in 2010.  I hope this incident costs him the election this November.

Frankly, Choi’s real problem with Todd Gallinger is not that Todd is a muslim, but that he is a bright, articulate and engaging individual who possesses all the attributes Councilman Choi lacks. But instead of challenging Todd on the issues (a fight Choi would definitely lose), he attacks him personally, challenging his integrity and charging him with “guilt by association” and playing into the fears of citizens with baseless assertions.

And for Chuck DeVore, who questioned my outrage if the comments were directed towards Christians. The answer is yes, it would.  The comments would offend me if, instead of Muslim, Choi used the words Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Morman, Korean, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Buddist, or Amish.  Though I’d probably agree with him if he used the word “Republican.” Shame on you, Dr. Choi. And shame on Shea and Rodgers for their hateful comments too.  I will work hard to ensure your defeat in November. Anyone would be better than you.

  20 comments for “The Divisive Politics of Irvine

  1. September 26, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Dan, thank you for your dissertation on Larry, Beth and Sukee being sent by the Almighty to turn Irvine into the land of milk and honey. One of these days when the feds swoop down and grab all your buds at City Hall, all you liberals will be standing around with egg on your faces.

    The saving grace might be if the voters finally say, “enough is enough,” and unelect Larry, Beth and Sukee on November 4th. Can’t happen you say? Don’t be too sure. Even with all the misdirection, smoke and mirrors and propaganda newsletters, the Agran Political Machine has left a trail of issues behind, as never before. Team Irvine plans on driving home those issues at every opportunity between now and the election. Then the voters will speak. If they want more lack of leadership, more of an ethical philosophy of “don’t do as I do, do as I say,” more mismanagement and lack of progress at the Great Park they will vote for Larry, Beth and Sukee. On the other hand, if they want change and a return to the basics of good government, honesty and decisions made in public, prudent fiscal management and movement forward on the Great Park, they will vote for a new Council majority.

    I am only in this race to offer our citizens an option. I served them well for twenty-seven years and am prepared to do so again, should they choose to honor me with thier vote. Change or no change, that is the question. May the best candidates win.

  2. RHackett
    September 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Pat,

    That’s quite an accusation to make. If you are the candidate Pat Rodgers I find it hard to believe that any illegalities you claim would have been
    resolved by the proper authorities. Being a former member of the law enforcement community you of all people should know the difference between
    an accusation and proof.

    You’re not going to tell us with a straight face the Agran machine
    has the OC District Attorney in their corner, do you?

    Let the best candidate win indeed.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Pat -
    Thanks for reading the blog and for coming over,. really. Happy to have another reader. But Irvine is the 4th best place to live in America; its the safest city in America for the 4th year in a row; its school system is one of the best in the state. And your team has no record to run on. Your fundraising is so bad that to call it anemic is an insult to anemics.

    If Larry and crew have committed some horrible crime, the feds would have surely swooped down by now. But I have to gues that evewrytime Christina files a compliant to authorities and then conducts whispering campaigns about how Larry is “under investigation,” that voters in Irvine would frankly like you guys to put up or shut up.

    You have more serious issues to deal with. Choi’s smear. Your ticket’s bigotry on muslim Americans (with a history of bigotry against Gays and Lesbians– where are you on Prop 8, Pat?), and your own unethical photos of you in Uniform in your campaign lit. Yes, its legal sinced you’re retired, but you and I both know it doesn’t pass the smell test for right and wrong, does it.

    Have fun playing checkers with someof the other folks who’ve run with Christina and lost post election-day.

    Just watch your wallet; Christina likes other people to finance her campaigns.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Pat — one more thing; under the leadership of Larry, Beth and Sukhee, Irvine is the land of milk and honey.

    Have a great day and try and get some sleep/

  5. troy
    September 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Dan Chmielewski said: “Choi has indicted City Council candidate Todd Gallinger on the basis of Todd’s muslim faith”

    Sorry Dan, Choi only “indicted” Gallinger on his associations with the well known known terrorist front group – CAIR

    You can keep trying to equate CAIR with muslims, but the only thing CAIR equals is HAMAS. And like CAIR, Hamas uses religion to propagate a hateful, violent ideology.

    The public has the right to know that Gallager is cozy with a front for terrorists

    As Senator Charles Schumer says: “we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism” … “intimate links with Hamas”

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Troy — do some research. CAIR doesn’t show up on any government terrorist list

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist_group

    Critics have accused CAIR of having ties to terrorist organizations, and of “pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda”. They claim that “five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups”. However, this assertion is disputed by CAIR, which notes that only one of the individuals mentioned was ever employed by CAIR, and his arrest was on a weapons charge, not a terrorism charge, and took place after the period of his employment by CAIR. According to The New York Times, several U.S. government officials “described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.”

    Now Troy. We can agree that Tim McVeigh was a terrorist. Tim McVeigh was a Catholic. The Catholic Church gave McVeigh last rites, forgioving his sins. So by your rationale, the Catholic Church is a terrorist organization by forgiving the sins of a known terrorist? That’s absurd of course.

    I wonder Troy, could you not use the same argument of using religion to propagate a hateful violent ideology to say, the Jewish Defense League? Or what about Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church?

    To save you some time, here’s a list on known terrorist organization.

    Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) (International, Palestinian)
    Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) (Philippines)
    Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (Palestinian)
    Al-Shabaab (Somalia)
    Ansar al-Islam (Iraqi Kurdistan)
    Armed Islamic Group (GIA) (Algeria)
    Asbat an-Ansar (Lebanon)
    Aum Shinrikyo (Japan)
    Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) (Spain, France)
    Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) (Philippines)
    Continuity Irish Republican Army (Northern Ireland)
    Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Egypt)
    HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) (Palestinian)
    Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) (Bangladesh)
    Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) (Kashmir, India)
    Hizballah (Party of God) (Lebanon)
    Islamic Jihad Group (Syria)
    Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) (Uzbekistan)
    Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) (JEM) (Kashmir, India)
    Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI) (South East Asia)
    al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) (Egypt)
    Kahane Chai (Kach) (Israel)
    Kongra-Gel (formerly Kurdistan Workers’ Party) (KGK, formerly PKK, KADEK, Kongra-Gel) (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria)
    Lashkar-e Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) (LT) (Kashmir)
    Lashkar i Jhangvi (Pakistan)
    Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) (Sri Lanka)
    Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (Libya)
    Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) (Morocco)
    Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) (Iran)
    National Liberation Army (ELN) (Colombia)
    Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) (Palestinian)
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) (Palestinian)
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (Palestinian)
    PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) (Palestinian)
    Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (QJBR) (al-Qaida in Iraq) (formerly Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad, JTJ, al-Zarqawi Network) (Iraq)
    al-Qa’ida (Global)
    al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (formerly GSPC) (The Maghreb)
    Real IRA (Northern Ireland)
    Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (Colombia)
    Revolutionary Nuclei (formerly ELA) (Greece)
    Revolutionary Organization 17 November (Greece)
    Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) (Turkey)
    Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) (Peru)
    United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) (Colombia)

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Patrick — did you really use the word “honesty” to define yhour ticket. Christina misrepresented the terms of the ICHIP program, the relationship between Agran and the first canddiate selected for Great Park CEO, plus the well-dcoumented and ever changing story around her daughter’s drug arrest (perhaps the right to remain silent should have been extended to her). Choi is honest? That’s why he kept $9k of a $10K prize while serviing as a IUSD trustee. Are you being honest with the public when appearing in your old police uniform in your brochure and your webiste?

    Spare me this undocumented and easily refuted claim.

  8. troy
    September 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Dan Chmielewski,

    Consider:

    “If a national political organization was founded by members of a secret committee created to help a terrorist group, if their officials admit the need to lie to Americans about their true objectives, does that make them dangerous?

    There is no dispute that CAIR’s founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad participated in a secret meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in 1993. It was called to discuss ways to “derail” the Oslo peace effort. Ahmad, now CAIR’s chairman emeritus, actually called the meeting to order (page 10). And, in that meeting, Ahmad and others discuss the need to mislead Americans (page 14):

    Omar Ahmad: We’ve always demanded the 1948 territories. I mean, we demanded …

    Unidentified Speaker: Yes, but we don’t say that publicly. You cannot say it publicly. In front of the Americans…

    Omar Ahmad: No, we didn’t say that to the Americans.

    These transcripts have been in the public domain for more than a year. CAIR has yet to answer to them. Instead, its representatives like Ayloush lash out at those who have read them and use them as a basis to draw conclusions about the organization …”

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    September 26, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    CAIR was founded in 1994 with headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    The testimony you reference happened a year earlier. Nice try Senator McCarthy.

  10. troy
    September 27, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Dan,

    So in your mind, the fact that (less than 6 months later) AFTER this meeting with Hamas and MB members, where these men discussed starting organizations that they could cloak from discovery of terror group ties – Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad Founded CAIR – this is just fine with you?

    As long as CAIR wasn’t existing DURING this strategy meeting with terrorists – all is right with this picture?

    Your a fine American, Dan.

  11. Dan Chmielewski
    September 27, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Troy –
    Thanks so much for questioning my patriotism. Let me question yours. I’d appreciate if you could source the transcripts/testimony from a non-partisan or neutral web site or news services as this flimsy proof is in fact legitimate, because you have failed to do so.

    Secondly, can you please explain why CAIR is not on the FBI watchlist of domestic or international terrorist organizations? Please explain it.

  12. troy
    September 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Dan,

    I’m holding a copy of the court document from the HLF trial

    You can get a copy yourself – it’s a public record.

    This is a FBI surveillance Transcript and Court Document:

    Government Exhibit 016-0053 3:04-CR-240-G U.S. v. HLF, et al.

    Or, you can go to this site, (http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/93Phillyfinal.pdf) and see copies of submitted Court Evidence – all related pdf files are photo copies of actual Criminal Court Evidence.

    if you don’t trust it, you can go to the Texas court and get copies yourself, or send someone, – it’s all public domain.

    I challenge you to obtain the records from the court if you feel you need to question the validity of the court records presented. Don’t cop out.

    Also, CAIR Officers are being indicted/deported One by One.

    The CAIR organization as a whole may take a little longer as the wheels of Justice turn slowly.

    Have a little patience, Dan.

    As you requested, here is an Associated Press article titled:
    “Documents detail Hamas support within U.S.”

    The article includes this paragraph:

    “For the first time, evidence in the case put CAIR’s founder, Nihad Awad, at a Philadelphia meeting of alleged Hamas supporters that was secretly watched and recorded by the FBI.”

    ( I hope this meets your “validity” requirements)

    http://www.khou.com/news/state/stories/khou070826_tnt_muslimcharity.70ea6a5c.html

    …The 1991 bylaws of a group called the Palestine Committee say it was created to be the highest authority on “work for the Palestinian cause on the American front.” The committee was led by Mousa Abu Marzook, later deported to Jordan and labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government.

    The committee oversaw a number of past and current Muslim organizations in the United States.

    One was Holy Land, which was shut down in December 2001 and accused of being a fund-raising front for Hamas. Five of its former leaders are on trial in Dallas, charged with sending more than $12 million in illegal aid to Hamas.

    Another was the Islamic Association for Palestine, which closed in 2004 after a federal judge found it and then-defunct Holy Land liable in the killing of an American teenager in Israel by Hamas gunmen.

    And a third was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which has emerged as a leading advocacy group for American Muslims.

    For the first time, evidence in the case put CAIR’s founder, Nihad Awad, at a Philadelphia meeting of alleged Hamas supporters that was secretly watched and recorded by the FBI.

    The groups had overlapping rosters of leaders. Documents introduced by prosecutors in the Holy Land trial list several of the charity’s leaders as officials in the Islamic Association for Palestine.

    Bank records show financial transactions between both organizations and Marzook, which prosecutors contend shows that Hamas invested seed money in the U.S. groups so they could then raise more funds for Hamas from American Muslims …

  13. Dan Chmielewski
    September 29, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Troy – thanks for the comments and the links. However, Todd represents a chapter of CAIR and CAIR is not on any terrorism watch list.

  14. troy
    September 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Dan,

    I respect you wanting to defend your friend – sadly many well meaning members of CAIR have been shamefully duped into terror support by Hamas stooges Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, et al.

    The facts are clear,

    CAIR = Hamas

    Hamas IS on the terrorist watch list …

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    September 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Troy -
    The facts are not clear. CAIR is an American organization. And its an organization not on any terrorism watch list. Its an organization praised by President Bush (not that I’m wild about that).

    I fail to see how Todd, by helping CAIR members with citizenship and immigration issues, is somehow helping Hamas. That dog won’t hunt son.

    There were a lot Irish-Americans in Boston who supported the IRA; does that equate them with CAIR/Muslims?

  16. troy
    September 29, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Dan,

    CAIR is not an “American” organization. That’s CAIR p.r. drivel.

    It may have been “incorporated” in America, but it was started/funded by Musa abu Marzook – a Palestinian member of Hamas and a Terrorist (on the US terror list by the way) and founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad – both of Palestinian origin and tied to Hamas like stink on a monkey.

    But you know all this.

    CAIR loves to say if you “oppose” CAIR, you oppose Muslims. You can stop that game now. This has NOTHING to do with Muslims other than CAIR using the Muslim religion as a smokescreen for their goals.

    You can bring in all kinds of examples to equivocate CAIR/Hamas operations with other Terror groups – however, in our time – now – we have CAIR. Bringing the murderous IRA and their American dupes into the discussion only proves the point.

    CAIR is a group Founded by Hamas members, with a history of convicted terrorist staff members, created to subvert our Constitution.

    Tell you friend Todd to run. Run far away from CAIR while he still has some “credibility” He wouldn’t be the first associate of CAIR to escape from the clutches of this Islamofascist group.

    I wish him luck, and enlightenment.

  17. Dan Chmielewski
    September 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Troy –
    By your logic, we should condemn the entire Catholic Church because of a few pedophile priests. My point in bringing the IRA into the discussion is, they are on a terrorism watch list and CAIR is not.

    The local CAIR chapter is not dedicated to subverting our Constitution; Bush and the Republican Congress did a pretty good job of that.

    You have yet to tell me why CAIR isn’t on a terrorist watch list except to equate CAIR with HAMAS. That is just a stretch.

    I’d like to suggest your hatred of CAIR is more deep-seeded in hatred of Muslims in general. Or do you approve only of Christian theocracies? This is the same sort of talk the Nazis did to demonize Jews before WWII.

    Tell you what, replace what Choi said about Muslims not being fitto servce and replace it with Koreans? Would that be objectionable to you?

  18. troy
    September 29, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Dan,

    Nice try.

    CAIR is not a muslim organization. It is a front for Hamas. Period.
    It’s not a stretch – it’s a fact.

    CAIR founder Marzook is a terrorist – declared so by the US

    He started CAIR with Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad. Those men, along with the help of convicted terrorist Ghassan Elashi and others spread CAIR chapters across the U.S. – like herpes.

    You can try to “suggest” the “hatred for CAIR equals a hatred for Muslims” but that dog won’t hunt, son. That’s an “I’m losing the argument” game that’s played by chumps like Hussam Ayloush and friends.

    I have no feelings about one’s choice in religion whatsoever. I care about my country.

    Why don’t you discuss/defend the terrorist Marzook’s creation of CAIR, or Awad and Ahmad’s secret plans for founding CAIR in philly in 1993?

  19. Dan Chmielewski
    September 29, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Troy –

    Nice try yourself. You still cannot explain why CAIR is not on a terrorist watch list.

    You don’t seem to get is that I care for my country too and, frankly, our diversity is our strength and that includes Muslim-Americans. CAIR,in 2008, is not a terrorist group, regardless of what might have happened in 1993.

    But thanks for demonstating the title of the post Troy; the divisive nature of what the Shea/Choi/Rodgers tickets. Divide the community rather than unite it. So by all means, side with the bigots.

    Troy, there is no truth in the fact you contend. Call the FBI and ask them.

  20. troy
    September 29, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Dan,

    Here is a synopsis of FBI testimony in the HLF today.

    It details the participation of the Philly meeting and CAIR’s founder Omar Ahmad (and Marzook)

    Please note this interesting paragraph:

    “In my opinion, we must form a new organization for activism which will be neutral because we are placed in a corner, we are place in a corner. It is known who we are, we are marked and I believe that there should be a new neutral organization which works on both sides.”

    Dan, YOU can obtain the transcript to this FBI testimony from the Court in Dallas if you challenge it’s validity – do so if you have a problem with the synopsis – don’t cop out.

    *****************************************

    DALLAS – In a whirlwind day of testimony, jurors in the Hamas-support trial of five former officials at the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) were guided through stacks of financial records and taken inside a secretive meeting held in the U.S. with the ambition of scuttling peace in the Middle East.

    The men are accused of illegally sending $12 million to Hamas through a series of Palestinian charities called zakat committees. Most of the conduct occurred before U.S. law prohibited dealing with Hamas, but it clearly established HLF’s role in a covert committee created by the Muslim Brotherhood to advance the Hamas agenda in the U.S. and the flow of money from the U.S. to Hamas-tied entities.

    FBI agent Lara Burns was the day’s sole witness. Working with federal prosecutor Barry Jonas, the two took jurors through a series of excerpts from a secret 1993 meeting of Hamas members and supporters called in the wake of the Oslo Peace Accords.

    This is the second trial in the HLF case, the first ended in a mistrial after jurors could not reach unanimous verdicts on most of the counts. Prosecutors have streamlined their presentation in response, with several changes on display Monday.

    The 1993 meeting by the Palestine Committee, held in a Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Philadelphia, lasted two days. FBI agents, secretly recording the meeting, used 18 separate tapes to capture the dialogue. For this trial, the government created a highlight reel of sorts – presenting excerpts of the most pertinent conversations.

    Jurors heard about the Palestine Committee’s opposition to the accords, repeated references to deceiving Americans about the group’s attitudes toward the deal and its overall objective and discussion of how human rights and helping the downtrodden could be a winning strategy to derail the agreement while still gaining popular support in the America.

    HLF, which claims to be devoted solely to charity work for the needy, paid the air fare and hotel bills for a handful of the meeting’s attendees, including Omar Ahmad. At the time, Ahmad was an officer in the Islamic Association for Palestine. He is the speaker who called the Philadelphia meeting to order (see page 10).

    The following summer, Ahmad became one of the founding incorporators of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Jonas and Burns reviewed transcripts from the Philadelphia meeting in which the participants discussed the need to create a new political organization. An unidentified speaker raised the issue (see page 4 of the link):

    “In my opinion, we must form a new organization for activism which will be neutral because we are placed in a corner, we are place in a corner. It is known who we are, we are marked and I believe that there should be a new neutral organization which works on both sides.”

    In the end, the group agreed it could accomplish its goals by emphasizing human rights conditions and charity.

    “The suffering still exists and we could benefit from the suffering in the camps from the angle of approaching the Palestinian cause from this angle at least,” former HLF executive director Shukri Abu Baker said (see page 6 of the link)

    Throughout the day, Jonas stopped the tapes that played, with accompanying translations sub-titled, so jurors could keep up with the often fast-paced conversations.

    The evidence showed some of the defendants, including Baker, lying about his connections to Hamas and the Palestine Committee. For example, Baker signed a sworn declaration as part of a civil suit in 2002. On page 21 of the document, he claimed the Philadelphia meeting was a mere gathering “of Islamic intellectuals, academicians, community leaders and representatives of American Islamic organizations, such as ours. It was not a meeting of any organization.”

    Yet, prosecutors produced an agenda of that meeting, entitled “Future of Islamic Action for Palestine in North America.”

    During the meeting, Baker instructed the others not to say the word Hamas, but refer instead to “Sister Samah” (Hamas backward). That, he would explain in the 2002 declaration, “was a whimsical and ironic play on words. ‘Samah’ means ‘forgiveness’ in Arabic, and, in my opinion, those who used the term were making ironic fun of Hamas, not adopting a secret term to disguise their references to the organization. Some people at the meeting also referred to the ‘The Movement.’ I do not believe that anyone who used this term was referring to Hamas.”

    Turning to page 14 from a meeting transcript, Baker expressed concern that “America will classify Samah as a terrorist organization.”

    Jonas stopped Burns, who was reading from the transcript and asked, “Was he concerned they would classify ‘forgiveness’ as a terrorist organization?” Only, Burns answered, “if you believe what he said in the declaration.”

    Later, the two focused on the number of times the Philadelphia meeting attendees spoke openly of trying to “derail” the Oslo Accords, considered at the time a major step toward a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    They also noted the attention paid to how the group would craft its message to Americans. “War is deception,” Baker said at two different times.

    Earlier, Burns walked jurors through a series of financial exhibits, again seeming to take care to break things down as much as possible for jurors to follow. She spent much of the morning reviewing and explaining charts assembled by the government tracking the early flow of money from HLF to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and a charity created by Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin in 1980s and early 1990s.

    First, she explained summary exhibits assembled to show the amount of money involved, the parties and the various bank records and other exhibits that prove the money was sent.

    The exhibits were made “hopefully to make it easy to understand this mountain of bank records,” Burns said.

    For example, bank records show Mousa Abu Marzook, now the Hamas deputy political director, personally gave $210,000 to HLF between 1988-89. But Marzook was a student in Mississippi at the time and his personal tax return shows he made about $50,000 that year. With no apparent independent wealth, Jonas asked, where’d Marzook get the money?

    Between 1989 and 1994, HLF sent more than $730,000 to the Islamic Center of Gaza, a charity run by Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin. According to a 1996 article in the Middle East Affairs Journal, programs at the center were run by the Muslim Brotherhood. Donations cut off as the U.S. banned support for Hamas in 1995, Burns said.

    Then there was the case of K&A Trading, a Saudi Arabian company that received $250,000 from HLF during September and October 1988. The company was run by Khairy H. Al-Agha, a man identified in other exhibits as a Palestine Committee member in Saudi Arabia, Burns said.

    HLF claims to donate money only to charities, Jonas said. Was Agha a charity?

    No, Burns answered.

    Agha also is listed on page 54 of the translation of Mousa Abu Marzook’s address book.

    Other bank records showed Agha’s company sent $1.3 million to Marzook between 1988 and 1991.

    Marzook, meanwhile, gave money to HLF, defendant Mohamed El-Mezain, and two other Palestine Committee entities – the Islamic Association for Palestine and the United Association for Studies and Research. Marzook was on the board of both. Ahmed Yousef, spokesman and senior advisor to deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, served as executive director of the UASR and as editor of an IAP magazine.

    Burns is set to return to the stand when testimony resumes Tuesday morning.

    http://www.investigativeproject.org/article/781

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