Hamas-Tied Charity Group Helper Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI

A Mesa father and engineer has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI about his involvement in a charity organization tied to Hamas.

Between 1994 and 1997, Akram Musa Abdallah, 54, raised funds for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which the federal government accuses of funneling money to the terrorist group that has political power in Palestinian Gaza. When the FBI came inquiring about the group in 2007, he denied helping the group even though he knew the United States considered it source of terrorism funding, says the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix.

Sentencing is set before Judge Neil Wake on August 17; Abdallah faces up to eight years in prison.

Seven top members of the Holy Land Foundation, await sentencing on their own charges, the US. Attorney's Office says:

On December 4, 2001, the HLF, based in Richardson, Texas, was designated by the President of the United States as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization, pursuant to Executive Order 13224, and as a Specially Designated Terrorist organization under Executive Order 12947. The HLF was shut down as a result of the designation and its assets were frozen. In July 2004, the HLF and seven of its principals were indicted on a variety of charges stemming from its financial support of Hamas, United States v. Holy Land Foundation et. al., 3:04 - CR- 240-P (N.D.TX). The charges included providing material support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization (Hamas) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B; dealing in the property of a Specially Designated Terrorist (Hamas) in violation of 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701 - 1706; money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1956; and tax violations for filing false Forms 990, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).

In November 2008, after a two month trial, every HLF defendant was found guilty of their respective charges. Sentencing is scheduled in Dallas for May 27, 2009.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.