US imam jailed for supporting Hamas

Community leader guilty of 'material support' for Holy Land Foundation donations.

    A Hamas fighter in Gaza - the US says the ruling Palestinian group is a terrorist organisation [AFP]
    Shorbagi, who had pleaded guilty, was also ordered to pay restitution of $610,454.
    Small town shake-up
    Gregory Jones, a local Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said: "It is very disturbing to see people in the United States who are so willing to offer their assistance to known terrorist organisations."

    David Nahmias, a US attorney, said the case clearly showed "people who illegally support foreign terrorist organisations may be found anywhere in the United States, even in quiet and pleasant places like Rome, Georgia".

    He said Hamas had engaged in "numerous terrorist attacks", not only against Israeli soldiers and police but also against civilians, including Americans.


    'Holy Land' donations


    Prosecutors have said that between 1997 and 2001, Shorbagi provided financial support to Hamas. He also was accused of conspiring to provide them "material support".


    "It is very disturbing to see people in the United States who are so willing to offer their assistance to known terrorist organisations."

    Gregory Jones, Georgia Federal Bureau of Investigation agent

    The donations were through a charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, prosecutors said.


    The Muslim charity group was shut down in 2001 after the government accused it of funneling more than $12m to Hamas. Several people connected to the group were charged.


    At the sentencing, Shorbagi, a Palestinian who has been in the US legally for the past 22 years, said he realised that some of his actions were wrong, which was why he decided to co-operate with the government.

    Shorbagi said: "I came to this country when I was 18 and I believe in this country."

    His 14-year-old daughter, Esra, said the past few months had been very difficult for her mother and her family.

    She said: "I'll be missing the help and encouragement of my father."

    Aid embargo

    Hamas won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories, leading the United States and the European Union to cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.

    Washington and Brussels insist the group must renounce violence and recognise Israel's right to exist.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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