Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Our story begins with one, Richard David Hupper, who was already serving time for passport fraud -- looks like he tried to get a new passport under a false name in order to get back into Israel after he was banned for his activities with the International Solidarity Movement -- then they dragged him out of his cell and charged him with "giving about $20,000 to a group he knew supported Hamas.": Local man aided Hamas
A York County native who traveled to the war-torn Middle East to work with Palestinians will be sentenced in federal court this month for aiding a terrorist organization.
Richard David Hupper, 32, was charged with giving about $20,000 to a group he knew supported Hamas, the Palestinian military and political organization, according to court documents and his defense lawyer.
It is a crime to give money to Hamas, or to groups that support it, because it is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Hupper pleaded guilty in May.
The Leader Heights, York Township, native likely will be sentenced to about five years, his lawyer said.
Hupper's defense attorney, Neal R. Lewis, a Reading native who works in Florida, said the charges stem from Hupper's donations to a nonprofit agency that, in turn, supports Hamas.
He saw his mission as a humanitarian cause and wanted his donations to support the families of Palestinians who had been detained or killed, Lewis said...
...The charges against Hupper came more than a year after he pleaded guilty to attempting to obtain a passport using false information, a case that is related to his work with the Palestinians, Lewis said.
Hupper had been in Israel working with Palestinians, but the Israeli government kicked him out.
He wanted to go back, so he tried to get a passport using someone else's name, Social Security number and a forged birth certificate, and he was arrested, according to court documents...
...Hupper, who last lived in York County about six years ago, decided to involve himself in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis while he was in Alabama working as a machinist, Lewis said.
While in Alabama, Hupper was injured at work, and he spent much of his time off watching TV, including international news, Lewis said. Hupper decided he wanted to travel to the Gaza Strip with the goal to help the Palestinian people...
...Hupper traveled to Israel, where he actively worked with a non-governmental agency to aid Palestinians impacted by the Middle East conflict, Lewis said. He was eventually ordered to leave Israel and returned to Florida after a stop in Jordan.
After spending some time in Florida, he decided he wanted to return to his work with Palestinians, and that's when he applied for the passport with false information.
Prosecutors agreed to recommend a light sentence on the passport charges, according to court documents. Hupper, who is in a Miami federal prison, was sentenced to serve a total of 24 months for those charges. His release date is set for November.
With the latest charges, Hupper faces more time in prison -- a maximum of 15 years -- and $250,000 in fines. But because he has admitted to his crime and pleaded guilty, it's likely he will be sentenced to about five years, Lewis said.
Unemployed machinist donates $20k to group working with Hamas...OK... But who are the non-profit and the NGO mentioned in the article? Who was he working with? Well that's where the International Solidarity Movement comes in.
You remember Paul Larudee, the "piano tuner"...oh, and also big-wig with the ISM? (He was also, BTW, one of the last people to speak [see Larudee comment] to Riad Hamad before his suicide.) Well he provides more information, courtesy of an exchange over an ISM email list. Looks like the ISM itself plays in here, and may be either an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, or -- dare we hope -- perhaps something more.
Attached is a proposed letter to send to mailing lists, which can also be adapted for email lists. It refers to information coming out of a case reported in the Leader Heights Daily Record, shown at the end of this message. Tom Nelson, the lawyer for ISM-Northern California and the Free Gaza Movement, has managed to get some additional info, including the fact that ISM is the "nonprofit agency" referenced in the article, and that at least one individual in ISM-Palestine has been named.
ISM-Palestine is doing its own research on this, and it is best if we do not ask them to report back to us until they are ready. It seems that the convicted individual, Richard David Hupper, may have joined ISM as a volunteer and been later asked to leave because his actions were inconsistent with ISM principles, but even that is uncertain. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the U.S. is considering action against ISM, probably with Israeli prodding.
The Free Gaza Movement suspects that this is the latest in a series of attempts (the fifth, to be precise) to thwart and discredit its project to send boats to Gaza. The objective would be to time the placement of ISM on the terrorism sponsor list at the time the boats sail, in order to discredit the effort. [As if the US government would take such a step just to stop their idiotic boats. -S]
Tom suggests that a good way for us to deal with this in the U.S. is to mobilize public pressure on Congress. Hence the attached letter, which has been drafted by him, Greta Berlin and myself. ISM-Northern California is having a Newsletter mailing session Wednesday evening, so I suggest we try to complete discussion of this in time to be able to send out the letters at that session.
List member Patrick Connors didn't think it was a good idea to talk about this:
...I really strongly request that none of this information not be shared any further at this point - the article, this draft letter, etc. - on listservs or with anyone else. And I think it was not a good idea for Paul to have sent this email. Sharing this information on lists about this sensitive information contradicts previous email discussions about holding off until we have more info, and I am troubled to see that people have taken unilateral actions on this nonetheless.
Again, people are gathering information on this at this point, and I request that everyone hold off on any actions or even on emailing on this sensitive topic, especially to email lists, until more information is collected...
Oops. Larudee disagrees:
This is not a unilateral action and in fact it's not an action at all. It's a proposal for action, which is being presented for consensus. Except for two items of information, it is all in the public domain, i.e. published in a newspaper. The remaining two items are that ISM was named, which is essential information that is likely to soon be public anyway, because it was given to me by a reporter, and that a person was named, which is about as vague as it is possible to get...
He clearly thinks ISM is at risk of being put on the terror sponsor list:
...we do not have the kind of information needed to refute allegations, so we shouldn't try to. However, we definitely want to have the opportunity to refute allegations before ISM is designated a terrorism sponsor, not after, and that is what the proposed letter and the campaign is intended to accomplish. All it asks is for ISM to be permitted to remain off the list until an investigation includes ISM testimony, which would include the kind of information that Pat wants to have. There's nothing controversial about this request, and our experience with members of Congress in the Bay Area is that they will not have a problem asking for this...
I frankly think it's a bit much to hope for, but you never know. Here is a PDF copy of the letter they circulated, note that the file name is theirs: ISM in grave danger.pdf
We await further developments. I have always felt that a case could be made for naming ISM as a terror sponsoring group, or whatever the legal term of art is, but questioned whether anyone in government felt it was worth bothering with. Hopefully, if it happens, they'll have all of their evidentiary ducks well in a row. Stay tuned.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Man Gets Jail for Funding Hamas -- ISM Freaking, May be Placed on Terror Sponsor List.
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