A Federal District Judge ruling from July 2009 said that a list of organizations involved with a charity shut down under the Bush Administration should not have been made public. The list contained the names of 246 individuals and organizations labeled “un-indicted co-conspirators” of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). Judge Jorge Solis originally had the decision sealed after making it last year, but an appeals court in November 2010 ordered his decision unsealed.
The request to have the decision made public was made by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), one of the groups included on the list. NAIT claimed the release of the list violated their Fifth Amendment rights and had asked to have the list sealed and their name removed from the list. The Fifth circuit appeals court determined that being on the list amounted to guilt by association and had the list sealed, but maintained there was evidence linking the groups and individuals to the Holy Land Foundation.
“The government has effectively convicted NAIT… without ever having to charge it with a crime, produce any evidence or prove its case to a judge or jury,” said NAIT Chairman Muzammil Siddiqi.
Unless the government decides to appeal the decision, the list will be sealed from public view. This will not prevent many copies circulating the Internet from being distributed, however. Conservative news blogs, such as Jihad Watch, have already cited organizations and individuals as terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, because of their inclusion in the document.
The Holy Land Foundation was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States. The charity, which had no legal representation and therefore did not present a defense, and five men were originally indicted in 2004. The first trial ended in a hung jury, with convictions on only some of the charges in October 2007 after the jury was unable to reach unanimous decisions on all of the charges. NAIT, which helps fund Islamic centers and schools around the world, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator of HLF. No formal charges have ever been brought against NAIT.