The Weekly Standard breathlessly touts an “exclusive story” over at Pajamas Media about the Justice Department doing outreach at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual convention. This is supposed to be outrageous because ISNA was named as an “unindicted conspirator” in the U.S. prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, several founders of which were convicted of funnelling funds to Hamas.
First, this seems like a strained use of “exclusive story,” insofar as DoJ has sent representatives to the conference before, during the Bush administration—as noted in the PM article itself. So the story is that they’re still doing so. Second, the HLF prosecutors listed some 300 organizations as “undicted co-conspirators,” a designation that allows them to use evidence and testimony from those groups without running afoul of the ban on hearsay. ISNA complained bitterly about this at the time, and their lawyers argued that the government’s evidence of links between ISNA and HLF dated from 1991 or earlier. (Hamas, the group HLF leaders were convicted of funding, was designated as a terrorist group in 1995.) Finally, ISNA purports to be North America’s largest Muslim umbrella organization, it’s the second-largest U.S. organization (after the American Society of Muslims), and its annual conference is the hemisphere’s largest gathering of Muslims, drawing some 30,000 attendees. If that’s actually some kind of hotbed of terrorist activity, we’re well and truly screwed. In any event, it’s scarcely mysterious why DoJ might consider the conference a convenient place to do outreach to American Muslims. The group hasn’t actually been charged—let alone convicted—of any wrongdoing as far as I can tell.
The case against ISNA appears to consist of the fact that prosecutors thought it might be convenient at some point during the HLF trial to bring introduce documents or testimony from ISNA or its affiliates, because they at one point had some sort of links with a charity—formerly the country’s largest Muslim charity, by the way—found, years later, to have illegally provided funds to Hamas. I assume the Justice Department isn’t totally inept, and therefore did some sort of investigation to see if there was more to it than that, but it doesn’t look like they’ve turned up anything actionable. But on the basis of these tenuous, decades-old, second-hand links, PM and the Standard apparently want the government to break off contact with the country’s second largest group of Muslims on the grounds that they’re some kind of crypto-jihadist group. Sounds like awesome PR.