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3 Men Convicted In Muslim Charity Probe

Prosecutors: Care International Was Pro-Jihad

BOSTON -- Three former leaders of an Islamic charity were convicted Friday of duping the U.S. government into getting tax-exempt status by hiding the group's pro-jihad activities.

Care International Inc., which is now defunct, described its mission as helping war orphans, widows and refugees in Muslim nations. But prosecutors said the organization also distributed a newsletter promoting jihad and supported Muslim militants involved in armed conflicts around the world.

Emadeddin Muntasser, the founder of Care International; Muhammed Mubayyid, the group's former treasurer; and Samir Al-Monla, the president of Care from 1996 to 1998, were charged with tax code violations, making false statements and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Emadeddin Muntasser, the founder of Care International; Muhammed Mubayyid, the group's former treasurer; and Samir Al-Monla, the president of Care from 1996 to 1998, were charged with tax code violations, making false statements and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

After more than two weeks of deliberations, a federal jury found them guilty on all counts, except a false statements count on which Al-Monla was acquitted. The fraud and false statement charges each carry maximum sentences of five years in prison and fines of $250,000, while the tax charges carry a maximum three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Kenneth Wainstein, an assistant attorney general for national security in Washington, called Friday's verdict "a milestone in our efforts against those who conceal their support for extremist causes behind the veil of humanitarianism."

Wainstein said the case "serves notice that we will not tolerate the use of charities as a means of promoting terrorism."

Defense attorneys, who did not immediately return calls for comment Friday, had accused prosecutors of trying to sensationalize the charges into a terrorism case by highlighting the newsletter.

Muntasser, 43, owner of the Logan Furniture Co., was born in Libya and now lives in Braintree. Mubayyid, 42, was born in Lebanon and now lives in Shrewsbury. Al-Monla, 50, was born in Kuwait, now lives in Brookline and is a U.S. citizen.

U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing hearings in early April.

The defendants' group, which was not affiliated with the well-known global relief organization CARE International, raised $1.7 million in donations from 1993 to 2001.

Prosecutors said the men failed to disclose that Care was a successor to the Boston branch of the Al-Kifah Refugee Center in New York, which was linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The center was a recruitment office for Mektab al Khidmat, which Osama bin Laden co-founded in the 1980s to recruit mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, according to the 9-11 Commission.

Prosecutors alleged that Care was raising money to support mujahideen, defined in the indictment as "Muslim holy warriors," and that it published the pro-jihadist newsletter called "al-Hussam," which means "The Sword" in Arabic.

Prosecutors acknowledged Care did some legitimate charity work, but said the group concealed non-charitable activities from the government. Specifically, prosecutors said the men did not tell the government it supported mujahideen in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Pakistan and other countries. Care also used a portion of its donations to publish an English translation of "Join the Caravan," a pro-jihad book.

Harvey Silverglate, a prominent Cambridge civil rights attorney, and Susan Estrich, the former presidential campaign manager for Gov. Michael Dukakis who is now a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, also had argued on the defendants' behalf that Care's activities were protected by the First Amendment.


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