JERUSALEM (Jun. 22)
An Israeli military court has formally charged an American citizen of Palestinian origin with channeling money to the Hamas movement.
It is the first move in proceedings that are likely to shed light on relations between the Islamic fundamentalist group and its alleged American backers.
Mohammad Salah, a resident of Chicago, was arrested shortly after his arrival in Israel in January, carrying “a considerable amount of money” to help “establish the military units of the Hamas organization,” according to the charge sheet presented Tuesday in Ramallah’s military court.
Salah allegedly met with Salah al-Aghouri, a Hamas leader in the West Bank, and gave him $96,000 to purchase arms and ammunition for use in attacks against Israeli targets.
A search in his hotel room in eastern Jerusalem revealed another $100,000, according to the charges.
Salah has been charged with attempting to establish a military infrastructure for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Salah, whose trial is expected to resume in August, denied the charges. His lawyers are expected to challenge a confession signed by him.
Another Palestinian American arrested at the same time as Salah and linked to him by the army, Mohammed Jarad, will be released next month after a six-month sentence, the military has announced.
The release is apparently conditioned on a promise by Jarad that he will leave the country.
Jarad’s and Salah’s arrests in January prompted a formal complaint at the time from the United States, which maintained that American officials and lawyers were being denied access to the arrested men.