While the U.S. Justice Department ponders how it will retry its troubled terrorism finance case against a now- defunct Muslim charity, debris from the recent mistrial here shows signs of piling up at the White House doorstep. The nation’s biggest terrorism finance case ended so badly for the government that it has thrown into question the Bush administration’s original order to shut down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development six years ago. Back then, President Bush accused the charity of aiding Palestinian terrorists. But similar allegations presented by federal prosecutors during the two-month trial in the president’s home state fell dramatically short of convincing a Texas jury…
DALLAS, Oct. 22 – A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what was widely seen as the government’s flagship terrorism-financing case after prosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslim charity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197 counts. The case, involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its backers, is the government’s largest and most complex legal effort to shut down what it contends is American financing for terrorist organizations in the Middle East. President Bush announced he was freezing the charity’s assets in December 2001, saying that the radical Islamic group Hamas had obtained much of the money it pays for murder abroad right here in the United States.
Muslims protesting the publication in European media of cartoons depicting Mohammed have once again directed their anger at the United States despite the fact most American mainstream newspapers have not reproduced them. Sentiment about the allegedly blasphemous cartoons appears increasingly to be blurring into a broader anti-U.S. feeling in some parts of the world, with some angry Muslims using President Bush’s scheduled tour to India and Pakistan early next month as a rallying point.
By Jeffrey Fleishman COPENHAGEN – This diminutive nation with an offbeat sense of humor and a strong self-image of cultural tolerance is not accustomed to having its flag burned, embassies stormed and coat of arms pelted with eggs. But Denmark has become a target for the Muslim world’s outrage at cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad. The scope and intensity of the violence ignited by the caricatures, first printed in September by the country’s right-leaning Jyllands-Posten newspaper and reprinted more recently in other Western publications, have left this country bewildered. “A lot of Danes have problems understanding what is going on and why people in those countries reacted this way,” said Morton Rixen, a philosophy student, looking out his window at a city awhirl in angst and snow. “We’re used to seeing American flags and pictures of George Bush being burned, but we’ve always seen ourselves as a more tolerant nation. We’re in shock to now be in the center of this.” On Wednesday, four people were killed and at least 20 wounded in a fresh round of protests in southern Afghanistan, and demonstrators in the West Bank city of Hebron attacked the offices of international observers, forcing their evacuation. President Bush spoke out about the protest for the first time, saying, “We reject violence as a way to express discontent with what may be printed in a free press.” Danes suspect that the furor over the cartoons has been co-opted by the wider anti-Western agenda of Middle East extremism. Yet they believe the media images of fury over the drawings have cracked the veneer of their nation and exacerbated a debate about immigration, freedom of expression, religious tolerance and a vaunted perception of racial harmony often disputed by immigrants. Denmark is a small portrait of Europe’s struggle to integrate a Muslim population that has doubled since the late-1980s and dotted the continent with head scarves and back-alley mosques. The cartoons were sketched in an atmosphere of rising Muslim discontent, a surge in strength for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, a commitment to keeping Danish troops in Iraq and the arrests here of suspected militants with reported ties to Al Qaeda. Some worry that anti-immigrant political parties are exploiting the burning of Danish embassies in Lebanon, Syria and Iran to promote a xenophobic agenda. “Racism is suddenly popping up in this country,” said Merete Ronnow, a nurse who worked in Danish relief efforts in Lebanon and Afghanistan. “I’m stunned by this. It’s like now Danes can express exactly what they feel. My colleagues are saying, ‘Look, this is how a Muslim acts. This is what a Muslim does.’ ” Recent polls reveal a country of torn emotions and doubt. The Danish People’s Party has gained 3 percentage points, but so has its nemesis, the Radical Left Party. A newspaper headline this week blamed President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for not supporting Denmark through the ordeal. And nearly 80% of Danes believe a terrorist attack looms. “I don’t know what to do. It’s amazing to see the Danish flag being burned,” said Michael Hansen, an engineer. “It’s not fear, it’s more anxiety. There have been terror attacks in the U.S., Spain and in Britain. We are the logical fourth. If they forgot about us, they’ve remembered now.” Hansen’s roommate, Martin Yhlen, said: “The whole cartoon thing was a ridiculous provocation. The newspaper knew before they published it that people would be extremely upset. You do have freedom of speech, but with that comes a moral obligation. It doesn’t benefit integration in Europe. It widens the divide.” Even Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen seems baffled. “We’re seeing ourselves characterized as intolerant people or as enemies of Islam as a religion. That picture is false,” he said Tuesday during a news conference. “We’re facing a growing global crisis that has the potential to escalate beyond the control of governments and other authorities,” he said. “Extremists and radicals who seek a clash of cultures are spreading it.” […]