I will be speaking at a town hall meeting in Plano, Texas, on Friday, April 6th, at the invitation of the Muslim Legal Fund of America (a civil and legal organization similar to the ACLU,, LULAC, and NAACP). The meeting will be held at the Plano Center, 2000 East Spring Creek, at Jupiter Road, Plano, Texas. MLFA are preparing for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial that will come to court in July 2007, six and a half years after arrests were made and HLF assets frozen. I will be talking about my experience as a court watcher in the Dr. Dhafir and Help the Needy (HTN) case in the context of what is happening to other Muslim charities in post 9/11 U.S. I hope to encourage people in Texas to attend the HLF trial and write about it as I have done in the HTN case.

Other speakers at the meeting are:

* Greg Westfall, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. Here is a link to articles he has written: http://www.gregwestfall.com/Articles.html

* Linda Moreno, one of Sami Al-Arian’s lawyers: http://www.freesamialarian.com/attorneys.htm

* Imam Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation. He is one of six imams removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He is Professor of Islamic Law at the Graduate Theological Foundation and the Director of Islamic Studies Program at the American Open University.

* Imam Ahmad Shqeirat, another of six imams removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. His family is originally from Palestine and he was born and raised in Jordan and he has been in the U.S. since 1995. He has a Ph.D in Islamic Studies and is currently Imam of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, Arizona.

Both imams were interviewed on Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/29/1436216

The HLF case will be updated at the meeting and it is also a farewell to Ghasan El Ashi, one of the defendants in the HLF case. He will go to prison for six and a half years for his conviction in another case, to do with his business.

The Ghasan El Ashi/HLF case is similar to the Dr. Dhafir and HTN case in terms of the number of government agencies involved and the kinds of inflammatory rhetoric used by Attorney General John Ashcroft, and then it ultimately came down to white-collar crime and regulatory offenses. Thomas Naylor says of the case in his book “Satanic Purses: Money, Myth and Misinformation in the War on Terror,”

“The case permitted John Ashcroft to sternly declare: ‘Terrorist money men should know this. We are hunting down the murderers you support, and we will hunt you down.’ Presumably he made that pronouncement in a nationally broadcast televised press conference to ensure and impartial jury. Yet, when it came to trial, the material support charges had vanished and the brothers were left with the accusation that they had made false declarations to ship computer parts to Libya and Syria. In the past most export-law violations were handled as regulatory offenses; but when the cases involved Arab of Muslim countries, US prosecutors seemed to prefer to make them criminal. They were easy to prosecute; they rarely required informants; and they could usually be proven simply with business documents seized in raids.” (Chapter 13 p.221)

See also Chapter 14: Neither to Give nor to Receive — Requiem for Islamic Charity in the US?