Prosecuting Terrorism Supporters: Lessons from a Recent Verdict

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] Matthew Levitt - On Feb. 1, a Chicago jury acquitted Muhammad Salah and Abdulhalim Ashqar of charges that they were involved in a racketeering conspiracy by financing and supporting Hamas terrorist activities in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Like the 2005 prosecution of Sami al-Arian and several other Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters in Tampa, Florida, the case highlights the difficulty of prosecuting individuals for providing support to terrorist groups under the cover of humanitarian or political activity. Criminal prosecution is only one of several means available to counterterrorism officials seeking to disrupt terrorist networks. In this case, the trial was important more for its presumed deterrence of other U.S.-based financiers and facilitators than for its disruptive effect. The writer, who served as an expert witness in the Salah/Ashqar case, is director of the Washington Institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy.

2007-02-09 01:00:00

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