U of M group holds event backing Palestinians who funded terrorist organization

A University of Minnesota group will host the daughters of two leaders of an Islamic charity that provided funding to the terrorist organization Hamas.

Protestors stand in solidarity with Palestine in Minneapolis in 2016. (Flickr/Fibonacci Blue)

(Daily Caller News Foundation) — A college chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is hosting an event on April 7 to support five Palestinian Americans convicted of supporting terrorism and protest the “injustice” of their sentencing, according to an Instagram post.

The University of Minnesota (UMN) chapter invited the daughters of two of the members of the Holy Land 5, leaders of an Islamic charity found to have provided funding to the terrorist organization Hamas in 2009, to speak about their fathers’ experiences, according to the post. SJP claims that the event is designed to be a “powerful learning experience” about the “injustice” of the men’s trials and sentencing.

The event will discuss how the U.S. government imprisoned the Holy Land 5 members for “activism and charity work supporting Palestinians living under occupation,” according to the chapter’s Instagram post.

“UMN SJP has the honor of being joined by the daughters of Ghassan Elashi & Shukri Abu-Baker, who will be speaking to us about the HL5 and the movement to free their fathers who are Palestinian-American political prisoners,” the post read. ”The Foundation was based in Texas and was once the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. before it was targeted by the Bush administration and zionist forces as part of the racist ‘War on Terror’ and shut down in December 2001, leading to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of five Palestinian men.”

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), at one point the largest Muslim charity in the country, was shut down in 2001 by the Bush administration due to concerns that the foundation was helping fund Hamas, according to the Department of Justice press release. The DOJ found evidence that HLF had given $12.4 million to groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ parent organization that aimed to create a ”network of organizations in the U.S. to spread a militant Islamist message and raise money for Hamas.”

As a result, the DOJ designated HLF as a “Specially Designated Terrorist” and sentenced Mufid Abdulqader, Elashi, Abu Baker, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammed El-Mezain, HLF’s fundraisers, on multiple counts of “conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” among others, according to the press release. Odeh and El-Mezain were released in 2020 and 2021 after finishing their 15-year sentences, while the remaining members, Abdulqader, Elashi, and Abu Baker, are still serving their 20- and 65-year sentences, according to the Middle East Eye.

Noor Elashi, one of Ghassan Elashi’s daughters who is not speaking at the event, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that her father’s case remains one of the “biggest injustices of this millennia.”

“At the end of the day, he was incarcerated and falsely convicted for providing philanthropy to Palestinians,” Elashi said. “The fact that he’s still in prison is an atrocity. I urge Americans to help us take this on as a cause as this is a human issue of a family that became collateral damage of 9/11 hysteria.”

The event is sponsored by the UMN Muslim Law Student Association (MLSA), according to the post, and attendees are invited to attend a dinner catered by “local Palestinian restaurants” after the panel and Q&A.

UMN told the DCNF that SJP, while being a registered organization, is “independent and autonomous” from the university.

“Any registered student group is allowed to reserve space on campus, provided the group complies with relevant policies,” a UMN spokesperson said. “The University does not make these decisions based on content and while we honor the discourse, we do not always support what is said. As a public university dedicated to learning and discovery, it is imperative that the University provide a place for individuals and independent groups like this one to express diverse views and opinions.”

SJP and MLSA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.


Kate Anderson