How do you convince a jury that a charity is not benign? How do you make a jury care about crimes that took place far away from the United States? How do you find evidence outside of the United States? How do you prove causation and forseeability?
Barry Jonas, U.S. Attorney’s office, NSD Counterterrorism Section and Stephen J. Landes, partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, were ready for these questions and much more, at their March 12, 2013 lecture on Fighting Terrorism in the Courtroom: Problems and Solutions. The lecture was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Law and Judaic Studies (JLJS) at DePaul University College of Law.
Jonas and Landes treated attendees to some rare and surprising insights into trial tactics and strategies from their ground-breaking criminal and civil cases which resulted in significant appellate decisions on drying up sources of terror finance and support under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
Jonas was primary trial lawyer in the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation (HLF), once the largest Islamic charity in North America. Landes brought a civil suit against HLF on behalf of the family of a U.S. citizen who was murdered by Hamas.
The trials of HLF, both criminal and civil, presented a series of unique problems which Jonas and Landes detailed in their presentation.
However, groups like HLF are far removed physically from the acts of terrorism and it is not claimed that the U.S. supporters of Hamas had any advance knowledge of specific acts of terrorism. Also, the material support may often take the form of donations to entities that appear to be harmless, such as alms societies, schools, athletic clubs or soup kitchens. The same people who train and direct the terrorist control these social wings. Jonas and Landes said that proving the ties between the donors, terrorists, and specific attack can be challenging, with novel proof problems and significant Constitutional issues.
Yet, terrorist networks require substantial funds. An entire infrastructure is required to convince a would-be terrorist to perform the act, train him, and then take care of his family after he is gone.
Jonas and Landes helped make new laws to convict and hold liable the Hamas network in the U.S. and eliminate a significant source of funding of terrorism against U.S. interests abroad.