[The April 18, 2007 article is available at the New Times site. They will print this response next week. New Times articles are currently only available the week of publication.]

Ed Griffin-Nolan’s April 18th What’s Shakin’ coverage of Islamic charity and the Dhafir/Help the Needy case was a missed opportunity to correct rather than reinforce past government misinformation about this case. The article continues the media trend of repeating government charges of terrorism while failing to confront the people who are making these charges. There is no evidence that Dhafir has any links to terrorists and yet articles like yours continue to smear him.

You say: “The Justice Department and then-Gov. George Pataki have linked Dhafir and Help the Needy with supporting terrorism, although such charges have never held up in court.”

I say: “If you are going to report something like this please back it up with evidence. Please go ask the government officials who are saying these things and report it in your newspaper so that they can be properly challenged instead of hiding behind hints and smears. The government touts Dhafir and the HTN case as a big win in the “war on terror” and yet they have never charged him with this in any way other than through media-smear. Michael Powell of the Washington Post called it “shadow boxing,” a very apt metaphor, but unfortunately did not confront the shadow boxers. Please do not enable the government to continue to use this tactic without at least confronting it.”

You say: “Prosecutors and politicians hinted that Help the Needy was a cover for financing terrorists.”

I say: “Please ask these people to be explicit about exactly what they are suggesting.”

You say: Evidence Against Muslim Charity Appears Fabricated.” These fabricated summaries by the government cast HLF defendants as anti-Semitic, and this is particularly egregious because much of the alleged evidence against the HLF comes from the Israeli government.”

I say: Where is the evidence for this? And why do you participate in this trial by media? I recently spent several days in Texas with the Muslim Legal Fund of America, Holy Land Defendants and their lawyers. At a town hall meeting one of the lawyers said that the HLF gave only to charities that were approved by Israel and that there is no evidence that any of the money went to funding terrorism.

And, it is the lawyers who are objecting to, not even mistranslation, but summaries that have been made of the transcripts. These summaries contain quotes that are not contained in the actual transcripts. See the recent LATimes article on the HLF case, “Evidence Against Muslim Charity Appears Fabricated. These fabricated summaries by the government cast HLF defendants as anti-Semitic, and this is particularly egregious because much of the alleged evidence against the HLF comes from the Israeli government.

You say: half way through your article, “So far the government has failed to show that any of the shuttered Muslim charities are connected to terrorist activity, according to Dr. Laila al-Marayati…”

I say: “Laila al-Marayati is not pulling this out of nowhere, she is quoting from an OMB Watch report: “Muslim Charities and the War on Terror: Top Ten Concerns and Status Update, revised March 2006, and in the interest of fairness and honesty this information should be available much earlier in your article.”

You say: “Dhafir’s case is complicated by the fact that while he was publicly linked to terrorism his conviction is not based on charges of terrorism.”

I say: Again. “Being ‘publicly linked to terrorism’ came through totally unsubstantiated government accusations, and 4 years after Dhafir’s arrest the media has yet to confront the government about these unsubstantiated allegations. I hope you will be the first.”

I urge you to make yourself aware of all the facts of the Dhafir/HTN case, otherwise you are complicit in the government subterfuge. The consequences for Muslim charity and Muslims in the USA is enormous and unjust.

If you are interested in the facts of the Dhafir/Help the Needy case and an explanation of the government strategy for prosecution (in the HTN case as well as other cases) please see my article, “Criminalizing Compassion in the War on Terror: Muslim Charities and the Case of Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir.” I also recently did a rebuttal of the charges against Dhafir and would be happy to share this with you if you are interested. I attended almost every day of the 17-week trial.

Katherine Hughes
For the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee