[Ppnews] Secrets and Lies: The Persecution of Muhammad Salah (Part I)

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Secrets and Lies: The Persecution of Muhammad Salah (Part I)

Michael E. Deutsch and Erica Thompson

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 37, no. 1 (Summer 2008), p. 38

----------
 From the Editor

----------


Authors’ Note:

As Muhammad Salah’s lawyers, we felt compelled to 
write this article because the true story of the 
Salah case has never been told. Instead, many 
books and articles have repeated and spun 
mistruths about it built upon a foundation of 
lies and a confession extracted under Shin Bet 
torture. It is not without trepidation that we 
exercise our First Amendment right to present 
these facts to the public, however.  Given the 
history of this case, not to mention the U.S. 
government’s relentless persecution of Sami 
al-Arian, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, and the 
officers of the Holy Land Foundation, the largest 
Muslim charity in the United States, it seems 
clear that the government will try again and 
again to punish those it sees as enemies of 
Israel. This demonstrated abuse of power by the 
government has created a profoundly “chilling 
effect” on the right of Palestinians living in 
this country to support the struggle against the 
illegal occupation of their homeland. Even the 
publication of this article could put Muhammad 
Salah and his family at risk of government retaliation.

THE 2007 ACQUITTAL of Muhammad Salah on terrorism 
conspiracy charges in United States federal court 
was a victory for opponents of torture, 
government secrecy, and the U.S. government’s 
uncritical and unconditional support for Israel. 
The verdict vindicated a Palestinian-American 
labeled a terrorist and persecuted by Israel, the 
United States, and the U.S.-based pro-Israel lobby for well over a decade.

The story of Muhammad Salah chronicles the U.S. 
decision to criminalize the Palestinian 
resistance movement and, ultimately, to team up 
with Israel in a joint “war on terror.” U.S. 
criminal statutes were “weaponized” to achieve 
Bush administration objectives; racketeering 
lawswere deployed to criminalize acts of 
resistance to the Israeli occupation by 
characterizing them as murder, kidnapping, and 
money laundering; the government used a 
multimillion dollar civil tort case brought by 
pro-Israel lawyers against Salah and several 
Muslim charities as the blueprint for its later 
criminal prosecution; and finally, the government 
fanned the flames of fear by charging Salah with 
material support for terrorism based on the false 
allegations of a known FBI “disinformant.” None 
of these objectives could have been achieved, 
however, if the U.S. Constitution had been 
respected. As this article will show, bedrock 
constitutional rights to free speech, due 
process, and public trial­as well as prohibitions 
against summary arrest, coerced confessions, and 
secret evidence­were cast aside in pursuit of the 
administration’s goals. The result was what 
amounted to a military court sitting in the city of Chicago.

MANUFACTURING THE CASE

Muhammad Salah, a naturalized American citizen 
and Chicago-area grocer, was arrested by the 
Israeli military in 1993 as he attempted to cross 
into Gaza while on a mission to deliver 
humanitarian funds to Palestinians in the 
occupied territories. (Fund-raising for 
Palestinian and other foreign organizations was 
protected at that time under U.S. law.) The 
timing of Salah’s mission was not random: Five 
weeks earlier, relief services in the West Bank 
and Gaza Strip had been disrupted following the 
mass deportation by Israel of 415 Palestinians, 
many of them involved in local Islamic charities.

Within days of Salah’s arrest, the Israeli 
government made the dramatic announcement that 
they had captured a top Hamas military commander 
and further declared that the Hamas leadership 
had relocated its “nerve center” and military 
command structure to the United States. Against 
U.S. protests, and on the basis of a “confession” 
known by U.S. officials to have been coerced, 
Salah was brought to trial several months later 
before an Israeli military tribunal.

This article contends that Israel manufactured 
the military leadership charge against Salah in 
order to force the U.S. government to outlaw 
support for Hamas and to stop the flow of funding 
and assistance from the United States to 
Palestinians in the occupied territories. 
Israel’s strategy worked. As a result of Israel’s 
relentless accusations concerning Salah­combined 
with heightened U.S. concerns about terrorism 
following the February 1993 bombing of the World 
Trade Center by Muslim extremists (unrelated to 
Hamas) and the launch a year later of Hamas 
suicide operations­the U.S. government made it 
illegal in January 1995 to conduct business with 
Hamas. The following year, Congress made it a 
crime to give money to Hamas for any 
purpose.1  In the meantime, the initially 
vigorous defense of Salah by U.S. officials waned 
under the impact of these developments, and by 
the time he was convicted by an Israeli military 
court in January 1995, the State Department had 
all but ceased its diplomatic protests. All told, 
Salah spent almost five years in Israeli prison.

The subsequent decade-long pursuit of Salah in 
the United States provided a testing ground for 
new counterterrorism practices and dangerous 
legal precedents. In secret proceedings in 1995, 
Salah (while still in Israeli prison) became the 
first and only U.S. citizen to be branded a 
“specially designated terrorist” by the U.S. 
government and subjected to that designation’s 
draconian restrictions. After returning home upon 
his release from Israeli prison, the U.S. 
government in 1998 sued to seize his assets, 
including his family home, invoking in a 
terrorism funding case a law designed to 
facilitate asset forfeiture in narcotics cases. 
Two years later, in May 2000, Salah and several 
Muslim American charities were named as 
defendants in a landmark $600-million civil case 
(Boim v. Quranic Literary Institute, et al.) that 
legitimized the private prosecution of terrorism 
cases. The Boim lawsuit attempted to demonstrate 
that anyone making contributions to an 
organization designated as “terrorist” can be 
held liable for that group’s violent actions, regardless of the donor’s intent.

Despite an FBI counterterrorism unit’s intensive 
investigation of Salah, the Clinton 
administration ultimately refused to indict him. 
In the wake of the attacks of 11 September 2001, 
however, the Bush Justice Department revived the 
investigation and over the next few years crafted 
its own test case centered on Salah’s 1993 
“confession” to Shin Bet (Israeli Security 
Agency) interrogators. On 20 August 2004, U.S. 
Attorney General John Ashcroft, flanked by FBI 
chief Robert Mueller and famed terrorism 
prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (who later led the 
investigation into the leak of CIA operative 
Valerie Plame’s identity), announced that “today, 
terrorists have lost yet another source of 
financing and support for their bombs and 
bloodshed,”2 and read the indictment against 
Salah and two other Palestinians3 accused of 
running “a U.S.-based terrorist recruiting and 
financing cell associated with the foreign 
terrorist organization Hamas” that was “murdering 
innocent victims abroad, including American 
citizens.”4 Salah was indicted on three counts: 
participation in a thirteen-year racketeering 
conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and obstruction of justice.

The racketeering conspiracy count marked the 
first time that Hamas, a broad-based Islamist 
movement that was later democratically elected to 
head the government of the Palestinian Authority, 
was deemed a “criminal enterprise.” Resistance to 
Israeli occupation was now considered murder, 
maiming, kidnapping, money laundering, and 
forgery “in aid of racketeering.”5 The material 
support for terrorism count, based on the 
testimony of an FBI informant long known within 
the agency to be untrustworthy, was dismissed on 
the eve of the trial by the government when faced 
with the prospect of having to release records 
detailing the informant’s involvement in the 
case. Finally, the obstruction of justice count 
alleged that Salah had lied or refused to give 
information to the lawyers in the above-mentioned Boim case.

 From the very beginning, the prosecution of 
Muhammad Salah ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution 
and bedrock American principles of due process 
and fair trial. The indictment itself violated 
principles prohibiting ex post facto and double 
jeopardy by prosecuting Salah for conduct that 
did not constitute a crime at the time of his 
arrest in 1993 and for which he had already 
served time in a foreign prison. The government 
sought to admit evidence it knew Israel had 
obtained through torture, and the United States 
and Israel colluded to deny Salah the right to 
obtain information essential to his defense.

During Salah’s 2006–7 Chicago trial, the judge, 
U.S. prosecutors, Israeli government officials, 
and Shin Bet interrogators and their lawyers held 
secret hearings that neither Salah nor his 
lawyers were allowed to attend. Salah’s 
constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses 
and examine documents fell by the wayside as the 
government introduced new procedures to govern 
the use of classified information at trial. 
Defense counsel was not allowed to question key 
witnesses about matters vital to the case. 
Finally, the government barred the public and 
press from the courtroom during pivotal 
testimony, depriving Salah of his right to a public trial.

Yet in the end, the jury, composed of 
Chicago-area citizens, acquitted Muhammad Salah 
of all terrorism-related charges. Despite the 
massive deployment of resources and pressure from 
two governments (with active, behind-the-scenes 
support from the pro-Israeli lobby in the United 
States), the verdict demonstrates that, when 
presented with the facts and given the power, 
American jurors using critical judgment will 
refuse to fall in line with their government’s pro-Israel agenda.

THE CASE BEGINS IN ISRAEL

The Bush Justice Department’s national press 
conference of 20 August 2004 was not the first 
time that a government had summoned the 
international press corps to present Muhammad 
Salah as a dangerous terrorist. Almost twelve 
years earlier, in January 1993, the Government of 
Israel (GOI) had gone into high gear to “stage a 
daily publicity campaign, complete with 
organization charts, color photos and secret 
police press briefings”6 to announce the arrest 
by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of the “World 
Commander of Hamas Military Wing” (as the 
Jerusalem Post’s banner headline depicted Salah7) 
at the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel. 
The GOI press office released a diagram of 
Hamas’s operational structure, reproduced in a 
number of publications, which put “U.S. 
leadership” at the top and drew lines that 
extended to several Middle Eastern states, 
including Iran.8 A series of articles published 
in the ensuing days kept the issue alive with 
disclosures allegedly obtained from Salah during 
his interrogation by Shin Bet agents.9 
Significantly, the interrogation reports leaked 
by the Shin Bet for international media diffusion 
were the very ones the U.S. government later 
claimed to be highly classified and thus 
“undiscoverable” when needed for Salah’s defense at trial.

Why would the GOI go to such lengths to publicize 
the seemingly far-fetched accusations that a 
soft-spoken Arab American grocer from Chicago, 
known for his community volunteer work, was the 
world military commander of Hamas? The answer 
lies in Israel’s need for political leverage 
against the United States at a time of particular 
tension. On 17 December 1992, Israel had expelled 
to Lebanon 415 Palestinians alleged to be members 
of Hamas (a movement formally established in 
1987) and Islamic Jihad. At least a quarter of 
the deportees were students or professors at the 
Islamic University of Gaza, and many worked in 
hospitals, schools, and various social welfare organizations.

The day after the expulsions, the United Nations 
Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 
799, which “strongly condemned” Israel’s actions, 
held the deportations to be in violation of the 
Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and “demanded” 
that Israel, “the occupying power, ensure the 
safe and immediate return” of all the deportees 
to the occupied territories. UN emissaries were 
dispatched to meet with Israeli prime minister 
Yitzhak Rabin to demand compliance with the 
resolution. Rabin refused not only to allow the 
civilians to return, but also to permit 
humanitarian aid to pass through the security 
zone to reach the deportees, who were camped out 
in tents in the “no-man’s land” between Israel 
and Lebanon in harsh winter conditions. 
Meanwhile, the expulsion of so many key social 
service administrators threatened

a humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories as well.

Whereas international condemnation of Israel’s 
actions was nothing new, what was unusual was 
that the United States, which generally could be 
counted on to veto UN Security Council 
resolutions critical of Israel, took a hard line 
against the deportations, angering Israeli 
officials. Time Magazine reported that as a 
result of the deportation crisis, “all diplomatic 
niceties had slipped away” between the two governments.10

The U.S. government was aware that Palestinians 
in the United States were making financial 
contributions to Hamas-influenced charities, or 
zakat. At the time of Salah’s arrest in Israel, 
and up until Hamas’s placement on the U.S. 
terrorism list in January 1995, such fund-raising 
had been considered protected First Amendment 
speech under the U.S. Constitution.11 Indeed, 
Hamas representatives had been meeting with 
members of the State Department into the early 
1990s.12 Furthermore, U.S. consular officials in 
Israel and Jerusalem had been openly disbursing 
aid money through Hamas affiliates. In a 
declassified State Department telegram of 4 
February 1993 to Secretary of State Warren 
Christopher, U.S. Consul General to Israel Molly 
Williamson surmised that Salah’s arrest was 
likely a result of the consulate’s regular 
distribution of money in the territories through 
the zakat and the 17 December deportation of the 
consulate’s zakat contact person (one of the 
previously mentioned civilians expelled to South 
Lebanon). Indeed, Israeli radio had reported a 
day earlier that a receipt for $30,000 issued by 
the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem was found on a 
Palestinian-American arrested the same day as Salah.13

When faced with U.S. criticism about the 
deportations and demands that it allow the return 
of the 415 civilians, the Israeli government 
turned the issue on its head: It accused the 
United States of giving safe haven to the Hamas 
high command, implying that the United States was 
responsible for the very actions Israel claimed 
had necessitated the deportations in the first 
place. Indeed, Israel did not hide its 
motivations; a security official was quoted as 
saying that “the point” of the high-publicity 
arrest and the charts showing the U.S. as Hamas’s 
nerve center was to demonstrate that “this 
organization is your problem, too.”14

The GOI’s accusations were predictably 
accompanied by demands that the U.S. outlaw Hamas.

U.S. intelligence officials dismissed Israel’s 
claims that the United States was Hamas’s “nerve 
center” as unsupported propaganda, even “bunk.”15 
Israel’s accusations were rejected by the FBI, 
the State Department, and the head of 
counterterrorism at the CIA. Evidence later 
introduced at Salah’s Chicago trial would reveal 
that FBI Assistant Director of Counterterrorism 
Neil Gallagher believed that the “Israeli-led 
media campaign” and “media blitz” had been 
calculated “to divert attention from the 
deportees issue.”16 Uri Dromi, the head of the 
Israeli government press office, noted that the 
attempt to convince U.S. officials of Salah’s and 
America’s Hamas connection was an “uphill struggle.”17

INCOMMUNICADO DETENTION AND U.S. PROTEST

It was at the height of the U.S.-Israeli 
diplomatic standoff that Muhammad Salah was 
arrested at the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and 
Israel. IDF soldiers stormed a taxicab he was 
riding in, blindfolded and shackled him, and 
threw him facedown in the back of a military 
jeep. The soldiers drove him around for hours, 
jabbing him with rifle butts, threatening him, 
and calling him offensive names before depositing 
him at the Ramallah Shin Bet interrogation 
center. This newly built installation replaced 
the former Ramallah compound widely known for its 
human rights abuses, including its use of refrigeration cells.18

Declassified documents confirm that the one-hour 
trip from Erez to the Ramallah interrogation 
center in fact had taken nearly five hours. 
Salah’s condition at the time of intake was noted 
as “requires medical attention.” Nonetheless, 
Shin Bet medical staff found Salah “fit” to 
undergo “intensive interrogation.”19

Having received clearance for interrogation, the 
Shin Bet replaced Salah’s blindfold with a 
densely woven, foul-smelling hood, reeking of 
vomit and feces, which made it difficult for him 
to breathe. The interrogators took Salah to a 
small interrogation room and tied him to a 
child’s chair with the front legs cut off to 
maximize the strain to his legs and back. 
(According to the testimony of a Shin Bet agent 
at the Israeli military trial, the purpose of the 
small chair was to minimize the distance 
detainees would fall to the floor in the event 
that they fell asleep while shackled.) Hours 
later, Shin Bet interrogators entered the room 
and made Salah take off his clothes and stand 
naked in front of them. They struck him around 
the head, threatened to have the FBI arrest his 
wife in Illinois, and told him they would take 
photographs of him and publish them if he didn’t 
cooperate.20 The interrogation logs reveal the 
use of classic Shin Bet interrogation techniques 
on Salah. He was not allowed to sleep for the 
first 48 hours, and thereafter he was awakened 
for interrogation at all hours of the day and 
night.21 His interrogators played loud music and 
kept the interrogation room at frigid 
temperatures. When not in active interrogation, 
the Shin Bet logs show that Salah was made to 
“wait.” Shin Bet testimony established that 
during “waiting” periods, which can last up to 
twenty-four hours, a detainee is not allowed to 
sleep, and “slapping” is permitted. In general, 
“waiting” means that the detainee must either sit 
hooded and tied to the small chair or stand in 
the “closet cell” while he “thinks about his 
interrogation.”22 At Salah’s Chicago trial, the 
government stipulated23 that the “waiting cell” 
utilized by the Shin Bet was “tall enough for 
defendant Salah to stand but not large enough [for him] to lie down.”24

In the critical first week of his interrogation, 
the Shin Bet held Salah incommunicado. 
Declassified State Department records establish 
that despite U.S. insistence, the GOI refused for 
two days even to confirm that Salah had been 
arrested; it then continued to refuse information 
about where he was being held.25 Even after the 
embassy managed to locate him, the GOI refused to 
allow access to him, in violation of the Vienna 
Convention governing the treatment of a state’s 
citizens arrested in a foreign country. On 31 
January, U.S. Ambassador to Israel William Harrop 
protested the denial of consular access to Salah 
directly to Prime Minister Rabin and Defense 
Minister Shimon Peres.26 Meanwhile, Secretary 
Christopher issued instructions to “press 
vigorously” U.S. concerns about delayed access to 
Salah with high-level Israeli officials.27

Declassified U.S. State Department telegrams and 
diplomatic communications provide evidence that 
U.S. officials knew what the Shin Bet was doing 
to Salah and why. Harrop advised Secretary of 
State Christopher that “in the case of 
Arab-Americans,” the GOI “often delays access” on 
the grounds that they are “security cases,” a 
term he characterized as “a euphemism for cases 
involving Palestinian defendants.”28 He also 
lodged an official protest with the GOI advising 
that Congress and the American public were “very 
concerned” about Israel’s media blitz and its 
“deliberate attempt to convict Salah in the 
press.”29 Consulate officials alerted the 
Secretary of State that “security sources” quoted 
in the Jerusalem Post were reporting that Salah 
was “cooperating and admitting to high-level 
Hamas activities” and that he had confessed that 
he was sent to rebuild Hamas’s military capacities after the deportations.

When embassy personnel were finally allowed to 
meet briefly with Salah six days later, they 
reported that he denied the stories and 
reaffirmed that he had no ties with Hamas.30 
Meanwhile, some newspapers were running stories 
painting him as a collaborator, a charge with 
potentially fatal consequences in the occupied 
territories at the time.31 Avigdor Feldman, 
renowned human rights jurist and Salah’s lawyer 
in the Israeli military court proceedings, later 
testified at the Chicago trial that the press 
reports depicting Salah as a “collaborator” were 
intended not only to influence the United States 
but also to increase Salah’s sense of isolation 
and dependence on his interrogators by convincing 
him that his life outside the interrogation room was in danger.

State Department complaints did not focus solely 
on Israeli media manipulation. On 4 February 
1993, Secretary Christopher cabled Ambassador 
Harrop outlining concerns about Salah’s 
mistreatment, incommunicado status, lack of 
formal charges, solitary confinement, and denial 
of access to a lawyer, instructing him to advise 
the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) 
that “high level government officials” found 
Salah’s “detention to be unacceptable.”32 Again, 
the GOI brushed off the complaint. After stating 
that “Arabs talk without much effort and justify 
their collaboration with claims of torture,” MFA 
officials declared that Salah had met with a 
lawyer on 31 January, six days into his 
interrogation.33 Two days later, when pressed on 
the subject of the lawyer’s visit, the MFA 
conceded that Salah had not met with a lawyer, 
but noted that Israeli law did not require that 
he do so for thirty days.34 Following Israel’s 
failure to respond adequately to U.S. demands for 
due process, Harrop suggested to Secretary 
Christopher in a letter dated 18 February 1993 
that another written protest about the Salah case 
should be sent to the GOI in order to “keep the record straight.”35

“FACILITATING INTERROGATION” AND THE “BIRD CAGE”

Salah’s detention incommunicado and in isolation 
was meant to “facilitate the interrogation,” as a 
Shin Bet agent later testified at the U.S. 
trial.36 During the first week of interrogation, 
Salah was repeatedly threatened with 
“administrative detention,” a six-month 
(renewable) detention order with no judicial 
review, known to Palestinians as being “buried 
alive.” Feldman testified in Chicago that for 
security detainees in the occupied territories, 
who are by definition under Israeli military 
jurisdiction, there is no equivalent to the 
American “right to remain silent” during police 
questioning; lawyers have no power to end an 
interrogation. Rather, Feldman explained, a 
detainee’s silence can be used to extend the 
period of interrogation or to justify 
administrative detention and is by itself almost 
sufficient to secure conviction.37

On 27 January, the Shin Bet brought in an Israeli 
National Police officer to take a formal 
statement from Salah. The policeman later 
testified at Salah’s Chicago trial that the Shin 
Bet told him that this case was very important 
and to get the statement quickly because Prime 
Minister Rabin needed it.38 The police officer 
wrote out a statement in Hebrew, a language Salah 
did not understand, and ordered him to sign it. 
Salah did so because he was told that his 
statement contained only what he had actually 
said and that if he signed, his interrogation 
would end. The Shin Bet instead used the 
statement to obtain a military court order to 
extend the interrogation. This was the first of 
three statements in Hebrew that Salah was ordered 
to sign during his first month of interrogation. 
He signed the second one on 30 January 1993 when 
Shin Bet interrogators promised him that if he 
did he would be released as a “good will” gesture 
during Warren Christopher’s visit to Israel the following week.39

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet was using the “good 
cop/bad cop” interrogation regime on Salah. Dr. 
Metin Basoglu,40 a world-renowned expert on the 
psychology of torture who testified for the 
defense at the Chicago trial, explained that 
torture’s effectiveness depends not on the actual 
level of physical pain inflicted but rather on 
the degree of the victim’s inability to predict 
or control the process. Because human beings have 
the capacity over time to develop resistance to 
pain and fear-inducing actions, prolonged and 
predictable exposure to such abuse inevitably 
diminishes its impact. Given that the goal of the 
interrogator is to maximize fear (so that the 
detainee will do anything to stop the 
interrogation), a means must be found to reverse 
the degree of immunity that the detainee can 
develop. Whereas the “bad cops” induce pain, 
fear, and anxiety through a panoply of well-honed 
techniques, the appearance of the “good cop,” 
according to Basoglu, provides respite from these 
emotions, creating an emotional contrast that 
serves to intensify the pain and stress still 
further when the “bad cops” return. The 
psychological manipulation involved in the 
technique causes the detainee to have confused 
and complex feelings of dependence on and gratitude toward the “good cop.”

In Salah’s case, the leader of the interrogation 
team, whose code name was “Chaim,” either played 
the role of “bad cop” himself or assigned it to 
any of about a dozen different Shin Bet 
interrogators involved in the months-long 
interrogation. The “good cop” role was played by 
“Nadav,” who would remove Salah’s head sack, 
untie his shackles, and give him a regular chair. 
“Nadav” would offer him tea or coffee and was the 
only interrogator who spoke to him about his home 
and family. But the comfort and hope “Nadav” 
offered was shattered each time he left and Salah 
heard different footsteps enter the room.

When Salah refused to sign the third Hebrew 
statement, bad cop “Chaim” took away his clothes 
and put him back in the “refrigerator cell,” 
according to consular reports.41 Meanwhile, U.S. 
officials had been angry about the GOI’s refusal 
to investigate the repeated allegations of 
Salah’s mistreatment, and after this latest 
incident, Ambassador Harrop wrote his third 
letter to the MFA stating, “[t]he Embassy again 
requests a full investigation into the 
interrogation and methods used by the Israeli 
officials to extract the signed statements.”42

Although Salah’s Hebrew statements served to 
extend his interrogation, they did not give the 
GOI what it needed to convince the Americans that 
he had done anything illegal. The State 
Department steadfastly maintained that Salah’s 
confessions were coerced and that his 
fund-raising activities were protected by law in 
the United States. It was undoubtedly this U.S 
skepticism that led Prime Minister Rabin to take 
an extraordinary step: He arranged for his 
“personal friend,” New York Times reporter Judith 
Miller, to observe Salah’s eighteenth day of 
interrogation at the Ramallah facility through 
closed-circuit television. Access to the 
top-secret interrogation center was virtually 
unprecedented, being routinely denied to the Red 
Cross, human rights organizations, and even Israeli prison officials.

Miller, who acknowledged that she does not 
understand Arabic, listened to thirty minutes of 
Arabic conversation between Salah and good cop 
“Nadav,” with an unidentified Shin Bet agent 
acting as translator. The brief questioning was 
apparently sufficient for Miller to write the 
story that appeared on the front page of the New 
York Times on 17 February 1993. Characteristic of 
her later reporting on Iraqi weapons of mass 
destruction (in which she sought to give credence 
to Bush administration claims in order to hasten 
the march to war), Miller, without mentioning 
that she had observed the interrogation,43 
confirmed Israeli claims that Salah was a Hamas 
military leader operating in the United States 
and that he was cooperating freely with Israeli 
police. She also reported security source claims 
that Salah had admitted that Hamas’s political 
command was in the United States and that Muslim 
charity organizations were covers for funding Hamas.

Despite Miller’s article and Salah’s alleged 
confessions, State Department and security 
officials remained unconvinced that the Hamas 
military leadership was operating from the United 
States. (Indeed, Miller herself continued to 
report on ongoing U.S. skepticism about Israel’s 
claims.) Moreover, U.S. officials did not find 
that Salah’s statements­even if voluntary, as 
Miller claimed­amounted to proof of military leadership.

In the face of persistent U.S. doubts, the Shin 
Bet needed to obtain a detailed confession 
complete with terror plots, and they needed it to 
be written in Salah’s own hand. Thus, after 
almost five weeks of intensive interrogation, 
Salah suddenly “disappeared.” On 5 March 1993, 
when Consul General Williamson arrived at the 
prison for a scheduled visit, she waited ninety 
minutes before prison officials told her that 
they were “unsure of Salah’s whereabouts.” The 
embassy then secured special permission to see 
Salah in another prison, but when the consular 
officer arrived, the guards outside refused her 
entry and told her to “go home and protest.”44 
Two days later, Salah’s lawyer was similarly 
turned away at the prison gates.45 Meanwhile, 
Secretary Christopher had advised the embassy in 
Tel Aviv that the Chicago press was reporting 
that Salah had admitted guilt and that “guilty 
pleadings were being prepared,” and he asked that the matter be looked into.46

Salah had been moved to a prison in Hebron and 
put in a cell with several dozen Palestinian 
prisoners claiming to be leaders of various 
resistance factions. These were 
“birds”­collaborators used by the Shin Bet to 
coerce written statements from prisoners.47 The 
“birds” told Salah that they had heard he was a 
collaborator and ordered him to write a 
confession, parts of which they would dictate, to 
be used against him if he became a government 
witness. When Salah refused, the men, who the 
government later admitted were working with the 
Shin Bet for “reduced sentences, better prison 
conditions, and/or money,”48 threatened him with 
a razor, tied him to a bedpost, forced him to sit 
on painful objects, and beat him until he 
acquiesced. Over the next week, these men, who 
met regularly with their Shin Bet handlers during 
the process, forced Salah to write out a highly 
incriminating fifty-four-page “life story” 
substantially manufactured by the Shin Bet.

When Salah was transferred back to intensive 
interrogation after ten days in the “bird cage,” 
his interrogators presented him with the “bird 
manuscript.” Good cop “Nadav” then gave him a 
choice: either continue in intensive 
interrogation or end it by agreeing to ratify the 
contents of the manuscript. Avigdor Feldman later 
testified in Chicago that for a detainee who has 
undergone intensive interrogation, being 
transferred to a regular prison cell and not 
interrogated is like “going on a Hawaiian 
vacation.” So Salah, his will broken after more 
than fifty days with bad cops and “birds,” agreed 
to validate the Shin Bet manuscript. With 
encouragement and occasional prompting from good 
cop “Nadav,” who repeatedly called him “friend,” 
Salah made a five-hour secretly recorded 
statement, often reading directly from the 
manuscript placed in front of him.49

Proof that the Shin Bet itself did not believe 
the content of Salah’s “confession” was 
inadvertently disclosed to the defense at the 
time of his Chicago trial. In April 1993, soon 
after the “confession” was recorded, the Shin Bet 
administered a polygraph to Salah. The examiners 
questioned him about the various terrorist acts 
catalogued in the five-hour tape, and he denied 
any knowledge. The polygraph examiner concluded, 
“[N]o answers were diagnosed that characterize 
telling lies for the aforementioned questions.”50

MILITARY TRIAL, SENTENCING, AND THE CONFESSION’S “FIRST FRUITS”

Notwithstanding, Salah was officially charged by 
an Israeli military tribunal on 16 March 1993 on 
the basis of the “bird” manuscript. At the 
military court proceedings (and later at trial in 
Chicago), the Shin Bet refused to disclose any 
documents or to testify about its authorized 
interrogation methods. In response to defense 
arguments that the authorized methods were 
relevant because they were systematically used on 
all designated “security detainees,” the Shin Bet 
consistently took the position that regardless of 
what they were authorized to do, they had not tortured or coerced Salah.

The military court proceedings, which were 
attended by consulate and embassy officials, 
dragged on for nearly two years. Declassified 
State Department documents are replete with 
references to threats made to Salah for insisting 
on a trial, for hiring Feldman, and for 
complaining to U.S. officials about his 
mistreatment and torture after the military judge 
had ordered him not to discuss the details of his 
interrogation, which continued off and on 
throughout the entire period even though under 
military court procedures, interrogation is to 
cease as soon as the person is charged. In March 
1994, after the tribunal declared that Salah’s 
attorney would not have access to the evidence 
which was to be used against him, the new U.S. 
ambassador, Edward Djerejian, and Consulate 
General Williamson sent a joint message to Warren Christopher advising:

This whole proceeding and the interrogation are 
seriously lacking in basic fundamentals of due 
process and fair evidentiary rules. 
Unfortunately, this is not an atypical proceeding 
on the West Bank; nevertheless, it is one that 
involves an American citizen.We believe that a 
marker must be set down firmly with the Israeli 
Ambassador in Washington and at an appropriate 
level in the foreign ministry [indicating] that 
the United States Government does not believe due 
process is being done in a case where one of its 
citizens is being tried in a court where evidence 
is used against him which neither he nor his 
attorney is permitted to view and “tricks” 
involving a promise of release during a Secretary 
of State visit to Israel are used in order to 
obtain “confessions” to lesser offenses.51

Although consular staff members on the ground and 
other U.S. officials continued to believe that 
Salah’s statements had been coerced and doubted 
their veracity, high-level U.S. government 
intervention in the Salah case diminished in the 
later stages of the Israeli military court 
proceedings. Besides the increasingly obvious 
futility of further protest, the political 
atmosphere had changed in the United States 
following Hamas’s first suicide attack in April 
1994 in retaliation for Baruch Goldstein’s 
massacre of worshippers in Hebron. Eight Israeli 
civilians were killed in the April operation, 
which marked the end of the organization’s policy 
of confining its military actions to Israel’s 
occupation forces. Under the constant drumbeat of 
Israel’s warnings about Hamas’s active U.S. 
presence, added to the shock of the first World 
Trade Center attack, Congress introduced bills 
calling for Hamas’s designation as a terrorist

organization.52

Meanwhile, Salah had steadfastly refused to plead 
guilty before the Israeli military tribunal, 
against the advice of his lawyer, who emphasized 
that the judges, all of whom were Israeli 
military personnel, invariably accept at face 
value the “confessions” security detainees make 
to the Shin Bet. This being the case, Feldman 
advised Salah that if he did not agree to plead 
guilty to lesser charges, he would certainly be 
convicted and would potentially face a life 
sentence. This prospect, combined with the 
debilitating impact of repeated transfers from 
prison back into isolation or active 
interrogation, finally led Salah to give in. On 2 
January 1995, one year and nine months after 
being charged, he followed his attorney’s advice 
and was sentenced to five years in prison 
counting from the time of his arrest. Salah 
continued to be interrogated intermittently after 
his sentencing, even though his “confession” 
(with the incriminating additions crafted by the 
Shin Bet) had already provided Israeli and U.S. 
security forces with the means to go after a host 
of individuals they had targeted.

The first high-profile arrest resulting from 
Salah’s confession was that of Hamas political 
leader Musa Abu Marzuq, who was apprehended by 
U.S. authorities at John F. Kennedy Airport on 5 
July 1995 after he had been put on a “watch list” 
in response to a warrant from Israel. A month 
later, the Israeli government filed for his 
extradition on grounds based almost entirely on 
statements made by Salah under torture. Many 
Israeli legislators argued against the 
extradition, but Prime Minister Rabin insisted to 
his cabinet that “Israel would lose credibility 
if it didn’t seek to bring Abu Marzuq to 
court.”53 Abu Marzuq fought extradition from the 
United States on the grounds that the warrant was 
the product of testimony extracted under torture, 
arguing that if he were turned over to Israel, he 
would be tortured as well. Abu Marzuq’s lawyers 
asked Salah­still in Israeli prison at the 
time­to write an affidavit outlining what the 
Shin Bet did to him during his interrogation. 
Declassified State Department documents reveal 
that in mid-January 1996, the Justice Department 
prosecutor in charge of the extradition request, 
BaruchWeiss, visited American Consular official 
Kathleen Riley, who had been one of Salah’s 
principal contacts during his interrogation. 
Weiss showed Riley Salah’s affidavit and asked 
her whether or not his allegations of torture and 
mistreatment were consistent with State 
Department knowledge of the interrogation. Riley 
studied the files and “determined that Salah’s 
allegations of mistreatment had been made from 
the beginning” and tracked “consistently with the 
statements made in the affidavit.” Riley passed 
this information on to prosecutor Weiss the next day.54

The Clinton administration never charged Abu 
Marzuq, and in April 1997, twenty-one months 
after he had been detained, Israel withdrew its 
extradition request after Abu Marzuq declared he 
was prepared to stand trial in Israel and would 
no longer contest extradition. Benjamin 
Netanyahu, who had become Israel’s prime minister 
after Rabin’s assassination by a right-wing 
Israeli fundamentalist, explained the surprising 
move by citing fears of a Hamas reprisal in the 
event of a trial. The following month, Abu 
Marzuq, who in August 1995 had been named by the 
United States as a specially designated 
terrorist, was released from U.S. custody and deported to Jordan.

Salah himself was released from Israeli prison 
six months before the end of his sentence and 
flew home to Chicago in November 1997. His 
relatively light five-year sentence and early 
release provide further evidence that the 
Israelis never believed that he was a Hamas 
military commander or that he had been involved 
in acts of violence. But then, reliable 
information had not been the Shin Bet’s goal in 
the Salah interrogation. The goal had been simply 
to get a confession that would silence U.S. 
criticism about the deportations, start a 
movement to cut off U.S. funding and support for 
the Palestinian cause, and provide a road map for 
pro-Israel forces in the United States to target supporters of Palestine.

HOMECOMING: SOWING THE SEEDS FOR THE INDICTMENTS TO COME

Muhammad Salah’s release from Israeli prison was 
not the end of his travails but rather the 
beginning of the next stage, with the U.S. 
government now taking the lead. Indeed, the 
government had taken action against Salah even 
before his return. On 24 July 1995, while still 
in Israeli prison, Salah had been branded a 
“specially designated terrorist” by the Office of 
Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury 
Department in secret proceedings based on secret 
evidence. The designation meant Salah had to get 
a special license to earn or spend money and 
government approval towork, obtain the services 
of a doctor or lawyer, or conduct any financial 
transactions. The designation’s restrictions were 
in force when he returned from Israel and remain in force today.

Also prior to his return, Salah was already one 
of the principal targets of Operation Vulgar 
Betrayal, a major probe into “terrorist 
financing” launched in late 1996 by the U.S. 
government at the instigation of the FBI’s 
counterterrorism unit. The Vulgar Betrayal 
investigation focused almost entirely on alleged 
Hamas-affiliated groups and individuals. Despite 
these actions, however, it should be emphasized 
that the Clinton administration did not move in 
lock step with regard to terrorism prosecution. A 
close study of the Salah case reveals the 
existence of fault lines and divisions within the 
U.S. government on the subject of targeting 
funders of Palestinian charities in the West Bank and Gaza.

FBI counterterrorism agents were poised to build 
a criminal case against Salah as soon as he set 
foot on U.S. soil. They assigned an informant who 
had been spying on the Palestinian community 
since the early 1980s to infiltrate the welcome 
home party of family and friends who greeted 
Salah at the Chicago airport. The informant, a 
Palestinian named Jawad al-Arouri (who went by 
the alias “Jack Mustafa”) was directed by the FBI 
to befriend Salah, whom he had never met before, 
and report on all his activities, contacts, and political views.

Over the next four years, Mustafa regularly 
reported to his FBI handlers about his alleged 
interactions with Salah. Hundreds of reports, 
which the government later produced to the 
defense, were generated memorializing FBI 
interviews with Mustafa. They detailed fantastic 
tales of plots to attack U.S. federal buildings, 
to obtain chemicals for making explosives, and to 
assist Hamas with its military activities in 
Israel and the occupied territories. Despite the 
incendiary nature of Mustafa’s reports, the FBI 
never took any action either to arrest Salah or 
to corroborate Mustafa’s wild claims. Indeed, in 
late 2000, in the midst of Mustafa’s reporting, 
the FBI and the Clinton Justice Department closed 
down the aptly named Operation Vulgar Betrayal 
because of insufficient evidence to prove that 
any of those under investigation had been 
involved in illegal acts. For the time being, 
Mustafa’s services were no longer required.

While the top levels of the Clinton 
administration and its Justice Department had 
been cautious about prosecuting terrorism 
suspects on the basis of questionable evidence, 
this hesitancy was not shared by all divisions 
and levels of the government. Israel had 
officially provided Salah’s taped confession to 
the U.S. government, and it appears that the Shin 
Bet had “unofficially” turned over documents 
relating to the case to American pro-Israel 
forces. The tape recording was a goldmine for FBI 
counterterrorism agents and others eager to close 
in on alleged Hamas affiliates. FBI 
investigations and federal grand jury probes 
focusing on Hamas financing began to proliferate 
around the country; all were directly related to 
Salah’s statements made to the Shin Bet under 
torture. Indeed, the tentacles of almost every 
known Hamas-related investigation or prosecution 
in the United States, including the case against 
the Holy Land Foundation (the largest Muslim 
charity in the United States), lead back to Salah’s coerced confession.

The decision to shut down Operation Vulgar 
Betrayal outraged the FBI counterterrorism agents 
involved. The most vocal critic of the decision 
was Chicago FBI agent Robert Wright, who had been 
the driving force behind the investigation, as 
well as the instigator of the June 1998 civil 
asset-forfeiture suit that froze Salah’s assets 
and put a lien on his house.55 Officially filed 
by the U.S. attorney of Illinois’ Northern 
District, the civil suit was based on the coerced 
confession extracted by the Shin Bet as well as 
on bank records (gathered under Operation Vulgar 
Betrayal) of moneys sent to Salah’s account and 
then transferred through money changers in the 
West Bank and Gaza. Wright’s forty-page sworn 
affidavit, attached to the suit, detailed the 
specifics of Salah’s “confession” and provided 
the substance of the forfeiture case.56

Even before the official closing of Operation 
Vulgar Betrayal, FBI counterterrorism and allied 
circles claimed that the government was dragging 
its feet in moving against Salah and other 
“terrorism funders.” Thus, in May 2000, a group 
of pro-Israel litigators led by Nathan Lewin 
appointed themselves “private attorneys general” 
and, with the help of the Anti-Defamation League, 
crafted a test case (Boim v. Quranic Literary 
Institute, et al.) to force the issue. The civil 
damages suit invoked a rarely used law passed by 
Congress in 1992 that gave U.S. citizens 
victimized by international terrorism a civil 
remedy against those responsible, including 
triple damages and attorneys’ fees. This 
$600-million legal action was brought by the 
parents of an Israeli American student, David 
Boim, who was killed in 1996 in a drive-by 
shooting in Israel by alleged Hamas members. The 
suit sought to prove that a number of Muslim 
charitable institutions, including the Holy Land 
Foundation, and several individuals, including 
Salah, were responsible for Boim’s death through 
their financial support of Hamas (and the 
charities allegedly linked to it) in the years 
prior to the killing. (Salah himself had been in 
Israeli prison when the incident occurred.)57

Lewin, a board member of Zionists of America, an 
organization pledged to target “anti-Israel” bias 
in the media and on college campuses and a 
militant defender of Israeli settlements,58 was 
an attorney for Richard Nixon and in recent years 
has been the lawyer for the American-Israel 
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), currently 
representing it in the FBI probe into espionage 
for Israel by AIPAC staff members.59 In 1998, 
Lewin had lobbied high-level Justice Department 
officials to extradite Amjad Hinawi, who had been 
convicted by the Palestinian Authority that year 
of Boim’s killing, and to seek the death penalty 
against him in a U.S. district court. The Clinton 
Justice Department refused on the grounds that 
the critical evidence necessary for Hinawi’s 
conviction was the product of torture, whereupon 
Lewin accused the Clinton administration of 
selective prosecution and fomenting terrorism, 
with an implied inference of anti-Semitism.60

The Boim theory of litigation flouted basic 
American legal principles such as requiring proof 
that an individual or organization intended to 
cause harm and did in fact cause harm to the 
injured party. An immediate appeal raising these 
issues was filed by the defendant organizations 
in the hope that the case would be thrown out of 
court. Then came 11 September 2001. The case had 
been scheduled to be argued two weeks later. The 
Bush Justice Department quickly filed an amicus 
brief supporting Lewin’s theory that these 
organizations should be considered 
“aiders-and-abettors” of terrorism. On 5 June 
2002, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals 
agreed, allowing the case to go forward.

The Boim lawyers then set out to bankrupt 
U.S.-based Muslim charities, using the case as a 
vehicle to pursue their own political agenda and 
to lay the ground for future criminal 
prosecutions (including against Muhammad Salah). 
They engaged the media to undermine the 
charities, thereby discouraging would-be 
financial donors. Indeed, in November 2002, Lewin 
testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee 
that one of the purposes of the Boim litigation 
was to deter financial contributions to the 
U.S.-based Palestinian relief organizations, 
irrespective of their charitable purpose.61 
Throughout the case, which is still pending,62 
Lewin had the support of the GOI and the U.S. Justice Department.63

Concerning Salah’s case in particular, Lewin and 
his associates pursued a strategy based on two 
key goals. First, they wanted to prove to the 
formerly reticent Justice Department that Salah’s 
1993 statements to the Shin Bet were admissible 
in court in a civil case, thereby paving the way 
for their admission in a criminal prosecution. 
Second, they used Salah’s limited answers to 
civil discovery requests to lay the groundwork 
for the subsequent obstruction of justice charge 
in his Chicago trial­the only charge for which 
the government was ultimately able to obtain a 
conviction. The importance of the Boim litigation 
for Salah’s later trial can therefore not be overstated.

Meanwhile, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had 
given the Bush Justice Department the political 
justification and “shock”64 it needed to pursue 
the Salah case as a means of advancing a “war 
against terrorism” agenda already in the works. 
As will be shown in part II of this article, the 
Salah prosecution was a test case meant to 
demonstrate how federal terrorism cases could be 
litigated, providing an opportunity to advance 
new standards governing the admissibility of 
coerced confessions at trial, establish new 
procedures for the use of secret evidence, 
prevent cross-examination of key witnesses, and 
close the courtroom to the press and public during crucial testimony.

Before there could be a trial, however, the 
indictment had to appeal to an American public 
whose main concern was protecting U.S. national 
interests. The centerpiece of the Salah case was 
a ten-year-old coerced confession, and the entire 
case hinged on a distant conflict of little 
immediate interest to the average American, even 
after 9/11. Moreover, the obstruction of justice 
charge was relatively minor and had the 
disadvantage of being widely known as a deus ex 
machina brought in the absence of sufficient 
evidence to obtain a desired conviction. What was 
missing to sell the indictment to the American 
public was something more current, more 
spectacular­something that appeared to threaten U.S. soil.

Enter FBI “disinformant” Jack Mustafa, with his 
tales of terrorism recruitment in the American 
heartland and plots to blowup the Federal 
Building in Chicago. In 2002, Mustafa was brought 
back on the job as the Bush administration 
formally reopened the investigation of Salah two 
years after Clinton had closed it. Just days 
before the Republican National Convention that 
launched George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection 
campaign, Attorney General Ashcroft convened a 
press conference and, with much fanfare, 
announced the indictments against Salah and the 
other two “suppliers of terrorist blood money.”65 
After almost two years of contentious pretrial 
preparations, the case was set for trial. Part II 
of this article will focus on the U.S.-Israeli 
joint venture to prosecute one of Israel’s 
perceived enemies in an American court.

NOTES

1. See President Clinton’s Executive Order No. 
12947, issued on 23 January 1995, and the 
Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 
1996 (18 USC 2339 (B)), which criminalized the 
provision of food and medical supplies to groups designated as “terrorists.”

2. Department of Justice, “Chicago and Washington 
DC Area Men among Three Indicted in Racketeering 
Conspiracy in U.S. to Finance Hamas Terror 
Abroad,” 20 August 2004, accessed at www.usdoj.gov.

3. The others charged were Musa Abu Marzuq, 
former head and at the time deputy head of the 
Hamas political bureau, then living in Damascus 
and known to be out of reach, and Dr. Abdelhaleem 
Ashqar, a professor of business administration 
and an independent candidate for the presidency 
of the Palestinian Authority in 2006. Dr. Ashqar 
was codefendant with Salah at the Chicago trial 
in 2007; in addition to the racketeering charges, 
Dr. Ashqar was indicted for criminal contempt and 
obstruction of justice for his refusal to 
collaborate with U.S. grand juries convened in 
New York and Chicago to investigate the 
Palestinian resistance movement. Dr. Ashqar’s 
story, like Salah’s, is a tale of great injustice 
but is regrettably beyond the scope of this article.

4. Press Release, 20 August 2004, “Three Hamas 
Terrorists Indicted for Racketeering,” 
distributed by the Bureau of International 
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, 
available at www.usinfo.state.gov.

5. Department of Justice, “Chicago and Washington 
DC Area Men among Three Indicted.”

6. Washington Post, 3 February 1993.

7. See newspaper headlines and clippings from 
such publications as the Boston Globe, Chicago 
Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, 
Washington Times, and Jerusalem Post contained in 
the State Department’s response to Salah’s 
Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

8. See, for example, Bruce C. Nelan, “Hamas in 
the Heartland,” Time Magazine, 15 February 1993; 
David Hoffman in Washington Post, 1 February 1993.

9. See, for example, Roni Shaked in Yedi’ot 
Aharonot, 1 February 1993. Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 
15214; State Department Cable, 1 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09535-09536. It was later 
discovered that Shaked was a former Shin Bet 
interrogator with continuing close ties to the Israeli security apparatus.

10. See Bruce C. Nelan, “Hamas in the Heartland,” 
Time Magazine, 15 February 1993.

11. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Buckley v. Valeo, 
424 U.S. 1 (1976) (quoting in part California 
Bankers Ass’n v. Shultz, 416 U.S. 21, 78-79 
[1974]), ruled as follows: “[The First Amendment] 
right to join together ’for advancement of 
beliefs and ideas’ is diluted if it does not 
include the right to pool money through 
contributions, for funds are often essential if 
‘advocacy’ is to be truly or optimally 
‘effective.’ ” See also the 14 May 1993 CRS 
Report for Congress entitled “Hamas: Freedom 
Fighters or Terrorists?” published by the Library 
of Congress’s Congressional Research Service 
(CRS), which states (p. 6): “U.S. law permits 
persons living in this country to contribute to 
organizations in foreign countries, even those 
identified as terrorist, as long as their 
contributions are not used directly to support 
the terrorist activities. Hamas carries on an 
extensive religious program in Palestine and 
money donated in this country is purportedly used to support those activities.”

12. CRS Report for Congress, “Hamas: Freedom 
Fighters or Terrorists?” 14 May 1993, pp. 5, 7. 
James P. Wootten, the author of the report, was a 
National Defense Specialist in CRS’s Foreign 
Affairs and National Defense Division. Khaled 
Hroub, Hamas: Political Thought and Practice 
(Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 
2000), pp. 96, 150. In addition to acknowledging 
informal State Department talks with Hamas, the 
report also alluded to U.S. skepticism about the 
GOI’s allegations in the Salah case, noting that 
there is “some validity to Hamas’ position” that 
“it is fighting to free the ‘Palestinian 
homeland’ under the provisions of Chapter VII of 
the U.N. Charter” (p. 4). After the report was 
released, Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) 
and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith 
demanded that it be rescinded. On 14 October 
1993, Schumer presented the “revised” and renamed 
report (“Hamas: The Organizations, Goals and 
Tactics of a Militant Palestinian Organization”), 
explaining that the previous report was 
misleading and inconsistent with U.S. policy, and 
he strongly hinted that the report was 
anti-Semitic. All references to Muhammad Salah’s 
case were eliminated from the substituted report.

13. State Department Cable, 4 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09493-09494.

14. Washington Post, 1 February 1993.

15. Mary Curtius, “State Department Denies Hamas 
Directs Operations from U.S.,” Boston Globe, 26 January 1993.

16. See Bruce C. Nelan, “Hamas in the Heartland,” 
Time Magazine, 15 February 1993; Report of 24 
February 1993 meeting with Neil Gallagher, Gov’t 
Bates Stamp ASH073. Virtually all the foreign 
press reports contained in State Department’s 
response to Salah’s FOI request make the same link.

17. Bruce C. Nelan, “Hamas in the Heartland,” Time Magazine, 15 February 1993.

18. London Sunday Times, 19 June 1977.

19. See Military Tribunal Testimony of “Benny,” 
11 October 1994, pp. 334–48; see Suppression 
Hearing Testimony of “Chaim,” 7 March 2006, p. 
658. The use of “fitness for interrogation” forms 
was discontinued a year later when Physicians for 
Human Rights­Israel (PHRI) exposed their use to 
assess the risk of detainees dying during 
interrogations where torture was to be used. PHRI 
concluded that the examinations constituted 
“collaboration in torture” under the UN’s and 
World Medical Association’s international 
conventions, which ban the use of torture in 
general and the participation of doctors in torture in particular.

20. See excerpts from “Family Matters” (Doc. C3), 
a report recently published by the Public 
Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) 
detailing the use of threats against detainees’ 
family members by Shin Bet interrogators.

21. In May 1999, the Israeli High Court ruled 
that “[i]f the suspect is intentionally deprived 
of sleep for a prolonged period of time, for the 
purpose of tiring him out or ‘breaking’ him, it 
is not part of the scope of a fair and reasonable 
investigation.” However, despite the High Court’s 
ruling, Shin Bet interrogators have continued to 
use torture and commit human rights abuses during interrogations.

22. Military Tribunal Testimony of “Cohen,” 29 
August 1994, p. 290; see also Military Tribunal 
Testimony of “Benny,” 1 October 1994, pp. 334, 343.

23. To “stipulate” is a legal term meaning that a 
party “admits” certain facts in a case in lieu of calling a live witness.

24. Gov’t Substitution No. 5 pursuant to 
Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).

25. State Department Cable, 29 January 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09531-09532; State 
Department Cable 2 February 1992, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09517-09522, 09586.

26. Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09489. 27. Memo from 
Secretary of State to U.S. embassy, Tel Aviv, 2 
February 1993, Gov’t 09495-09497.

28. State Department Cable, 18 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09507-09510.

29. State Department Cable, 2 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09495-09497; State 
Department Cable, 5 February 1993, Gov’t Bates 
Stamp No. 09498-09500; State Department Cable, 5 
February 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09392-9394, 09507.

30. State Department Cable, 1 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09535-09536.

31. B’Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for 
Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), 
Collaborators in the Occupied Territories: Human 
Rights Abuses and Violations, January 1994; see 
also Testimony of Avigdor Feldman, Transcript of Suppression Hearing at 2254.

32. State Department Cable, 4 February 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09495-09497.

33. State Department Cable, 9 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09501-09502; State 
Department Cable, 3 May 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09570-09572.

34. State Department Cable of 11 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09361-09362; 09507-09510.

35. State Department Cable, 18 February 1993, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09507-09510. After a 
meeting with GOI officials concerning delayed 
access to Arab-American detainees in general, 
embassy officials wrote to Secretary Christopher 
complaining about the systematic mistreatment of 
Arab-Americans, the use of “refrigerator cells,” 
and the Shin Bet’s use of so-called “moderate 
physical pressure” during interrogation. U.S. 
officials also protested the lack of any 
meaningful investigation by Israeli authorities 
into complaints of misconduct. The GOI again 
responded with blanket denials. See State 
Department Cable, 3 May 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09570-09572.

36. Suppression Hearing Testimony of “Chaim,” 7 March 2006, p. 618.

37. Testimony of Avigdor Feldman, Transcript of Suppression Hearing, p. 2216.

38. Suppression Hearing Testimony of Hezzi Eliyahu, 13 March 2006, p. 1760.

39. Military Tribunal Testimony of “Nadav,” pp. 
70–76; State Department Cable, 6 April 1994, 
Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09654-09657, and USSD Cable 
25 July 1994, Gov’t Bates Stamp 0967-0209672.

40. Dr. Metin Basoglu is chief of Trauma Studies 
at University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry 
and the founder/director of the Istanbul Center 
for Behavior Research and Therapy.

41. State Department Cable, 6 April 1994, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09654-09657.

42. State Department Cable, 5 March 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09526-09528.

43. At the time, Miller stated that Israeli 
security sources had given her this information, 
but in her book, God Has Ninety-Nine Names: 
Reporting from a Militant Middle East (New York: 
Touchstone Books, 1997), she admitted that she 
was let into the facility to observe the interrogation personally.

44. Williamson to Secretary Christopher, State 
Department Cable, 5 March 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09525.

45. State Department Cable, 11 March 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09543.

46. State Department Cable, 6 March 1993, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09529.

47. The use of collaborators to coerce written 
statements from Palestinian prisoners is a 
well-documented Shin Bet interrogation “exercise” 
and one that the government later admitted was 
used against Salah. These collaborators are 
called “birds” because they make detainees sing, 
and when a detainee, who does not know that the 
men work for Shin Bet but instead believes they 
are targeting him because of rumors planted about 
collaborating, later asks his interrogator how he 
got the statement, the interrogator 
characteristically responds, “I heard it from a little bird.”

48. Gov’t Substitution No. 2 pursuant to 
Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).

49. The recorded Arabic statement was listened to 
by Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, a psychiatrist, lifelong 
Gaza resident, and director of the Gaza Community 
Mental Health Program who had interviewed 
hundreds of torture survivors. El-Sarraj 
testified at Salah’s Chicago trial that the 
person on the tapes was not a military commander 
of anything, but rather, a “broken and helpless 
man” who was “desperately trying to please his 
interrogator,” even calling him “brother.”

50. Report of “Urgent: Polygraph Test No. 6/21/93: Muhammad Salah­U.S.A.”

51. Department Cable, 31 March 1994, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09644-09645.

52. See CRS brief (revised), 14 October 1993, p. 
5. In March 1993, the U.S. State Department 
announced that it was ending its talks with Hamas 
representatives in Amman and elsewhere.

53. See Serge Schmemann, “Israel Withdraws Bid to 
Extradite Chief of Hamas,” New York Times, 4 April 1997.

54. Riley “Note to File,” 17 January 1996, Gov’t Bates Stamp No. 09421.

55. The case is still pending. According to court 
records, in summer 2001 the Justice Department 
had decided to negotiate with Salah to settle the 
case, but the attacks of 11 September 2001 
intervened, and the government abruptly ended negotiations.

56. Wright was removed from the Vulgar Betrayal 
investigation in 1999 and later fired as the 
result of at least six disciplinary charges, 
including the unauthorized disclosure of 
nonpublic FBI information. Afterwards, he became 
a vocal public critic of the FBI counterterrorism 
effort, suing (along with a fellow agent 
investigating Salah) the FBI in 2002 for refusing 
to allow them to answer questions posed to them 
by Judith Miller about why Vulgar Betrayal had 
been closed down, claiming violation of their 
First Amendment rights. While Wright’s 
disciplinary problems with the FBI are shrouded 
in secrecy, the circumstances suggest that one of 
the reasons he was removed from Vulgar Betrayal 
was his overzealous reliance on questionable 
sources and informants, including Jack Mustafa. 
The Bush administration reinstated Wright in 2005.

57. The case named seven organizational 
defendants, but the principal ones were the Holy 
Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the 
Quranic Literacy Institute (a group that 
translates Islamic texts), and the Islamic 
Association for Palestine. Besides Salah, the 
individual defendants were Musa Abu Marzuq and 
the two men who allegedly carried out the 
killing, although Salah was the individual actually served in the case.

58. See Jon Weiner, “Warriors for Zion in 
California: Exaggerated Claims of Campus 
Anti-Semitism Have Drawn Media and Congressional 
Attention,” The Nation, 7 July 2008, p. 23.

59. Jerusalem Post, 2 June 2008; U.S. v. Rosen 
and Weissman, Case No. 05 CR 225, Memorandum 
Opinion of 26 January 2007, Judge T.S. Ellis III.

60. See Nathan Lewin, “A Promise the U.S. Makes, 
but Does Not Keep,” Jewish World Review, 27 
August 2002. See also Lewin’s controversial 2002 
essay calling for the execution of Palestinian 
suicide bombers’ family members, “Deterring 
Suicide Killers,” May 2002, available at www.shma.com/may02/nathan.htm.

61. Testimony of Nathan Lewin, United States 
Senate Judiciary Committee, on the subject of the 
tools needed to fight terrorism financing, 20 November 2002.

62. The Boim judge found liability without a 
trial (in the absence of “material issues of 
disputed fact”) in favor of the Boims against 
Salah, the Holy Land Foundation, the American 
Muslim Society, and the Islamic Association for 
Palestine. (Musa Abu Marzuq and the other 
individual defendants were never served with the 
lawsuit and were therefore not part of the case.) 
A jury trial was then held to set the amount of 
damages. All the defendants declined to 
participate the proceeding, and in December 2004 
the jury, hearing no evidence from any of the 
defendants, found liability against them in the 
amount of $156 million. In December 2007, 
however, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the 
damage award on the grounds that the trial court 
had erred in not requiring the Boims to show the 
defendants’ “knowledge of and intent to further 
[Hamas’s] violent criminal acts,” adding that 
“giving money to Hamas or a Hamas-affiliated 
entity would not by itself suffice to establish 
civil liability . . . for terrorist acts 
committed by . . . Hamas.” The opinion was not 
entirely clear, however: While stating that the 
Boims would have to show that the defendants knew 
that the murder of their son “was a reasonably 
foreseeable result of making the donation,” the 
panel also suggested that the plaintiffs “might” 
be able to prove liability by showing that 
donating money to a Hamas-related charity was 
known by the defendants to “free up” money for 
violence. The Boim lawyers asked the full court 
of appeals to rehear the case, and on 16 June 
2008, the court granted their request, 
specifically asking the parties to address the 
following question: “Whether a donor to an 
organization that, the donor knows, practices 
terrorism, can be liable under 18 USC 2333 (a) in 
the absence of proof that the donor intended to 
advance the violent component of the recipients’ activities.”

63. See Nathan Lewin, “A Promise the U.S. Makes, 
But Does Not Keep,” Jewish World Review, 27 August 2002.

64. See Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Henry Holt, 2007).

65. Department of Justice, “Chicago and 
Washington DC Area Men among Three Indicted.”




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