WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused today to reinstate a lawsuit over the Bush administration’s decision to freeze assets of a Muslim charity accused of financing the militant Islamic group Hamas.
The high court did not comment in rejecting an appeal from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Richardson, Texas-based group shut down in December 2001. A federal appeals court had ruled last year that the Treasury Department had ample evidence linking Hold Land to terrorism.
The Supreme Court’s action was a victory for the Bush administration, which has kept secret some of the documentation it says shows the group’s terrorist links.
Lawyers for Holy Land denied any support for Hamas, and likened the charity closure to the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.
“To this day, no court has required the government to present a single live witness or sworn statement supporting its contention that HLF, once this nation’s largest Muslim charity, funds the terrorist group Hamas,” the lawyers wrote in their Supreme Court appeal.
“The government’s claim of national security must be considered in light of a history of similar claims that have proven exaggerated.”
Holy Land says it provides relief to refugees, orphans and victims of human and natural disasters, and that it has never donated money or provided services to Hamas, a group blamed for orchestrating suicide bombings in Israel. The State Department lists Hamas in its roster of foreign terrorist organizations.
An FBI memo that served in part as the basis for freezing Holy Land’s assets claims a leader of the charity attended a mid-1990s event where $207,000 was raised for Hamas. Government officials estimate Hamas has raised millions of dollars in the United States during the past decade.
The Bush administration also froze assets of two other Islamic charities suspected of funding terrorists, the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation, for a total of between $5 million and $7 million.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Global Relief last year.
The case is Hold Land Foundation v. Ashcroft, 03-775.