Islamic Leaders Denounce Texas Arrests
Dec. 20, 2002
RICHARDSON, Texas (AP) _ Islamic leaders and three daughters of men arrested on charges of money laundering and selling computer equipment to Syria and Libya said Thursday the government has trumped up the accusations in a witch hunt for terrorists.
``The anti-terrorism fervor that's running rampant in our country may prevent those four individuals from receiving a fair trial,'' said Khalid Hamideh, an attorney representing several Islamic organizations in Texas. ``We know in our hearts that these were good, outstanding members of our communities.''
Four brothers who worked at Infocom Corp. in Richardson were arrested Wednesday on charges of laundering funds from a member of the militant Palestinian group Hamas and sending computers to countries the United States has designated as terrorist havens.
They are Ghassan Elashi, 48; Bayan Elashi, 47; Basman Elashi, 46; and Hazim Elashi, 41. Also named in the indictment is Ihsan Elashyi, who already was in custody on charges of illegally exporting computer goods to the Middle East, as well as the leader of an Islamic militant group and his wife, both believed to be in the Middle East. The company also was indicted.
Dallas-area Islamic leaders urged U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to provide the brothers with speedy, open trials without the use of secret evidence.
A detention hearing for the brothers arrested in the Dallas area was scheduled for Friday.
Daughters of two of the Elashi brothers said their fathers would never support terrorism.
``These were four innocent men who came to America to escape injustice,'' said 17-year-old Nour Elashi, daughter of Ghassan Elashi. ``They're living the injustice from my own government that is singling them out because of their race and religion at a time when we should all stand united as one nation to resist real terrorists.''
Rowan Elashi, 16, daughter of Bayan Elashi, said her father was humiliated by officers who wouldn't allow him to use the restroom or change out of his pajamas before taking him into custody in front of TV film crews.
Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra declined to comment and referred questions to a spokeswoman at the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas, who did not return messages left Thursday by The Associated Press.
According to the indictment, the Elashis' computer company used seed money from a political leader of Hamas and promised him a cut of the company's profits.
Ghassan Elashi is also identified as a director of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The foundation was shut down in December 2001 after the U.S. Treasury Department accused the self-described charity of being a front for Hamas and seized its assets.