Alleged Terror Front Group Sues Yale Press

by Paul Bass | May 9, 2007 3:16 PM |

book%20cover%20hamas.jpgAn L.A.-based international charity is suing Yale Press over a new book that accuses it as being a front for terrorist groups like Hamas.

An attorney for the charity, KinderUSA, filed suit over the book on April 26 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit names as defendants Yale University Press; author Matthew Levitt; and the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, where Levitt works.

Yale Press, in cooperation with the institute, just published a book by Levitt called Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad.

ff_levitt_matthew2.jpgLevitt (pictured) writes and speaks widely, including on national TV, about terrorism and front groups for organizations that carry out suicide attacks, like Hamas and al-Qaeda. As a former U.S. Treasury official, he worked on shutting down American funding pipelines to foreign groups identified by the government as sponsors of terrorism.

KinderUSA’s suit focuses on pages 151-2 “and the respective footnotes” in Levitt’s new book. The section of the book describes how the U.S. shut down American-based charities accused of funneling funds to terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda, charities such as the Holy Land Foundation.

The complaint quotes from the pages in question: “Even after the closure of the Holy Land Foundation in 2001, other U.S.-based charities continued to fund Hamas. One of the organizations that has appeared to rise out of the ashes of the HLFRD is KinderUSA.” The group claims that the accusation is false.

In the book, in a subsequent part not mentioned in the lawsuit, Levitt states that two leaders of KinderUSA were also involved with HLFRD: KinderUSA Executive Director Dalell Mohmed served as a project director at the previous organization, and KinderUSA founder Riad Abdelkarim as a governing board member. Both people were deported from Israel on suspicions of ties to Hamas, Levitt’s book reports.

The KinderUSA complaint also deems as false Levitt’s statement that “the formation of KinderUSA highlights an increasingly common trend: banned charities continuing to operate by incorporating under new names in response to designation as terrorist entities or in an effort to evade attention. This trend is also seen with groups raising money for al-Qaeda.” The complaint charges that a related footnote falsely ties two KinderUSA officers to a discussion of al-Qaeda “without informing the reader that there is no allegation that KinderUSA is tied to al-Qaeda.”

Click here to read the complaint filed by the group’s attorney.

KinderUSA descrbies itself on its website as “a group of physicians and humanitarian relief workers… believing that all children are born with fundamental freedoms and are entitled to the rights of survival, health, and education. KinderUSA puts into action programs to ensure these rights are not forgotten.” The site cites relief work with children in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.

In a press release, KINDER Board Chairwoman Laila Al-Marayati claimed the book “will take food out of the mouths of hungry children in Palestine that so urgently need our help.”

Her group’s complaint seeks $500,000 in compensatory damages, plus unspecific punitive damages and legal expenses.

It also claims that “Yale University Press did not conduct any fact-checking” in connection with the book.

“Of course, the book was vetted,” responded Yale Press chief John Donatich. “We took it through peer review, as with all our books.”

Levitt himself failed to respond to repeated phone and e-mail messages left over several days seeking comment.

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