Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hamas, Fatah, and "Terrorist Organizations"

My alien correspondent on the Moon has several more senses than we humans do. He (his name is a kind of musical chord which I can’t notate here) is able, among other things, to “smell” hypocrisy.

What he has reported is a thick fog of hypocrisy emanating from Washington, D.C. and the general area of Palestine. Unaccustomed to our ways, he has asked me to explain what is going on:

“What do I not understand? President Bush wants to bring democracy to the Arab world. He insisted on democratic elections in the parts of Palestine not occupied by Israel. He was very pleased that the Palestinian elections were held earlier this year. But then he was angry when the most popular party won. I had observed that Hamas did much more for the people than the opposition, and was much less corrupt, and so it is no surprise that Hamas won. Democracy worked as it is supposed to! But because Bush and Israel did not like the people’s choice, Bush and his “allies” cut off funds from the Palestinian government, causing great economic hardship. Salaries of public servants such as teachers could not be paid. Even when a leader of Hamas went abroad and came back carrying money for Palestine, Israel blocked him from returning to his country. Mr. Bush made no objection. If he supports democracy, should he not support the results of democracy? Mr. Abbas of the Fatah party, which lost the election, began attacking Hamas, and now announces that new elections will be held. Abbas has no legal right to call for new elections. There were legitimate elections just a few months ago. Abbas must be “in cahoots” (as your cowboy movies say) with Bush and Israel, and is trying to hijack the governmental process. His announcement has precipitated civil war between Hamas and Fatah. Is this what democracy means to Americans? Give people the right to vote in free elections but then starve them and provoke violence if they don’t vote as you would like? Please explain quickly. I have a sick headache, and my head is extremely large.”

My friend on the Moon, before trying to answer your question in another blog entry, I am sending you information about the U.S. official list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”, which as of 1997 designated Hamas a “terrorist organization”.

Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) was formed in 1987. It receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. The reason it was listed by Washington as a “terrorist organization” is that it did a good job of resisting Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory, and performed valuable services for Palestinian society – whereas the opposing Fatah party, in favor with the U.S., was corrupt and much less helpful and took a "moderate" view of Israel. (See "moderate" in my BUSH DICTIONARY ANNOTATED, which I will republish tomorrow.) If you aren’t interested in reading about the terrorist organization law in detail now, skip down to my comments at the end.

“The Secretary of State designates Foreign Terrorist Organizations in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury.
1. It must be a foreign organization.
2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)), or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)), or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States. [Comment: Hamas has never acted in the U.S.]
“The Immigration and Nationality Act defines terrorist activity to mean: any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following:
(I) The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle).
(II) The seizing or detaining, and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained. [Comment: Israel has often kidnapped Palestinian government officials in order to force compliance with Israeli demands.]
(III) A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (as defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States Code) or upon the liberty of such a person.
(IV) An assassination. [Comment: Israel has an official policy of assassination of Palestinian leaders which it has frequently put into practice.]
(V) The use of any--
(a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device, or
(b) explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property. [Comment: Both Israel and the United States qualify here as “terrorist organizations”.]
(VI) A threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing."
Other pertinent portions of section 212(a)(3)(B) are set forth below:
“(iv) Engage in Terrorist Activity Defined
As used in this chapter [chapter 8 of the INA], the term ‘engage in terrorist activity’ means in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization–
1. to commit or to incite to commit, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury, a terrorist activity;
2. to prepare or plan a terrorist activity;
3. to gather information on potential targets for terrorist activity;
4. to solicit funds or other things of value for–
(aa) a terrorist activity;
(bb) a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(I) or (vi)(II); or
(cc) a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(III), unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organization’s terrorist activity;
II. to solicit any individual–
(aa) to engage in conduce otherwise described in this clause;
(bb) for membership in terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(I) or
(vi)(II); or
(cc) for membership in a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(III), unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organization’s terrorist activity; or
III. to commit an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training–
(aa) for the commission of a terrorist activity;
(bb) to any individual who the actor knows, or reasonably should know, has committed or plans to commit a terrorist activity;
(cc) to a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(I) or (vi)(II); or
(dd) to a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(III), unless the actor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the act would further the organization’s terrorist activity.
i. Terrorist Organization Defined
As used in clause (i)(VI) and clause (iv), the term ‘terrorist organization’ means an organization--
I. designated under section 219 [8 U.S.C. § 1189];
II. otherwise designated, upon publication in the Federal Register, by the Secretary of State in consultation with or upon the request of the Attorney General, as a terrorist organization, after finding that the organization engages in the activities described in subclause (I), (II), or (III) of clause (iv), or that the organization provides material support to further terrorist activity; or
III. that is a group of two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in the activities described in subclause (I), (II), or (III) of clause (iv).”

I will conclude today’s blog entry by emphasizing that the highly selective (i.e. unfair) listing of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” is worse than just a political propaganda device. It is being used to strangle the elected government in Palestine, and the consequences of “terrorist organization” designation can have devastating personal consequences, as shown by this legal document filed in the recent prosecution of an American citizen in Rome, Georgia:

“On Oct. 8, 1997, the United States formally designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization. After that date, and continuing until Dec. 4, 2001, Shorbagi [the accused] provided financial support to Hamas and conspired with unnamed others to provide such material support. He did so knowing that Hamas had been designated as a foreign terrorist organization and that Hamas engaged in terrorist activity. Shorbagi provided the support through donations to the ‘Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF),’ knowing that some or all of the money was, in fact, destined for Hamas. Shorbagi knew that money provided to HLF was actually funneled to Hamas in part because he was a Georgia representative for HLF and he had attended HLF meetings at which high-level Hamas officials made presentations condemning Israel. Shorbagi also had hosted high-level Hamas officials at the Rome, Ga. mosque at which he served as Imam.
Shorbagi was charged in a Criminal Information on Aug. 28, 2006, with one count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Shorbagi has entered a plea agreement in which he agrees that, under the federal sentencing guidelines, he would be sentenced to the statutory maximum of 15 years in prison.”

Meanwhile, the United States gives special tax breaks instead of prison sentences to citizens who transfer funds to Israel even though Israel is the unlawful occupying power and Hamas is the defender.

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