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Holy Land Foundation 5' are victims of the US' unjust persecution of Palestinians

Ghassan Elashi, CEO of the Holy Land Foundation speaks with the media during a press conference in Richardson, Texas, USA [Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]
Ghassan Elashi, CEO of the Holy Land Foundation speaks with the media during a press conference in Richardson, Texas, USA [Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]

The US' destructive wars on Muslim countries launched in the wake of 9/11 under the misplaced rubric known notoriously as the "War on Terror" spawned senseless deaths and bloodshed on an unprecedented scale.

The George W. Bush administration, heavily infested with neoconservatives and Likudniks, contemptuously ignored and wilfully disregarded the sovereign status of Muslim lands by unleashing invasions, bombings, massacres and, ultimately, occupying them.

In a gross display of raw power, the US shamelessly sought to demonstrate its unchallenged position as a military superpower to refashion the world in its image.

Since the unmistakable target of US belligerence was Islam and Muslims, it adopted a well-worn Israeli strategy by dehumanising victims as "terrorists". The tactic was designed to fool the world by claiming that the war was not on "good Muslims" but only the "bad ones" depicted as "terrorists".

Against this backdrop, one is reminded of the extent of maliciousness associated with the War on Terror paradigm and the abuse of justice flowing therefrom.

A classic example in this regard is the case of what became known as the "Holy Land Foundation Five (HLF5)".

Fourteen years ago, five highly respected US-based Palestinian academics were unfairly targeted and jailed for providing humanitarian aid to orphans and widows in Palestine.

They have been described as the "Holy Land Five" who were actively involved in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) based in Texas.

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The HLF was, at the time, the largest Muslim welfare and charity organisation

in the US until it was singled out and hounded by the Bush administration and Israeli forces.

Using the cover of the War on Terror and fuelled by hostile Zionist agencies who profiled the HLF as a "nest of terror", it was shut down in December 2001 by US authorities.

The case against the "Holy Land five" led to the wrongful conviction and unjust long-term imprisonment of five highly respected Palestinian men. Three of them – Mufid Abdulqader, Ghassan Elashi and Shukri Abu Baker – remain imprisoned today.

The two others, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammed El-Mezain, sentenced to 15 years each, were released in 2020 and 2022, respectively.

An intriguing yet deplorable aspect of the highly politically charged case is the fact that these men were convicted on false charges of "providing material support to terrorism," even though they were never even accused of funding the legitimate armed resistance to Israeli occupation and colonisation.

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According to various reports, including by Samidoun, interestingly, the same charities funded by the Holy Land Foundation were also funded by the International Red Cross and even USAID, the US Agency for International Development.

In other words, the criteria for aiding or funding "terrorism" ought to have been applicable to the International Red Cross and USAID, rendering them "guilty" as well.

However, as is known, the Holy Land Foundation was selectively targeted and borne out by the fact that after failing to convict the HLF5 in their first attempt, the US judiciary allowed untested "evidence" by an anonymous Israeli intelligence agent.

The War on Terror has and remains a playbook on how to subvert justice to gain political goals. The dubious, torture-produced "evidence" by a faceless Israeli spook against the HLF5 was typical sensationalism and anti-Palestinian bigotry.

Though Israel's subversion of US politics is a well-known documented fact, it cannot remain unchallenged. By the same token, the ill-conceived path of destruction known as the War on Terror needs to be derailed, and its perpetrators brought to justice.

And the case of the three men who remain behind bars deserves a global campaign to secure their freedom.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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