Judge: Lawsuit Alleging ‘American Muslims For Palestine’ Is Successor To Terror-Linked Groups Can Go Forward
Defendants AMP and AJP must litigate plaintiffs’ complaint alleging they’re the “alter egos” of groups that helped Hamas murder their son.
A case against two organizations charged with being successors-in-interest to terror-supporting groups may move forward, a federal judge has ruled.
The two, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), an entity we have covered extensively, and Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation d/b/a American Muslims for Palestine (AJP), are charged with being effectively the same entities as the American Muslim Society (AMS) and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). The latter two, along with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, shut down rather than pay a $156 million judgment levied against them for helping Hamas.
After their son David was murdered by Hamas terrorists, Stanley and Joyce Boim sued several organizations for providing the Hamas terror group with material support. The idea was borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-great but now ideologically corrupt organization that worked to bankrupt the Ku Klux Klan by suing it for damages.
The organizations the Boims initially sued were affiliated with a now-defunct U.S.-based Hamas support network called the Palestine Committee. These defendant organizations included the Holy Land Foundation, AMS, and IAP. The Palestine Committee network even held a summit meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 to strategize how best to oppose the Oslo Accords and to propagandize and fundraise for Hamas in the U.S. After the Boims filed their suit, the federal government filed a criminal case against the Holy Land Foundation and several individuals, eventually convicting them, and seized the Holy Land Foundation’s assets.
The Boims won their case, and the court awarded them damages of $156 million. The defendants promptly shut down and claimed they had insufficient assets left to pay the judgment. For convenience, I’ll call them the deadbeat defendants.
Enter AMP and AJP, which look and quack like the deadbeat defendants. That is, they do similar work, have many of the same leaders, and work with many of the same organizations that worked with the deadbeat defendants. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies detailed many of these connections in 2016 testimony before Congress.
The Boims filed suit claiming AMP/AJP were alter egos of the deadbeat defendants, effectively the same entities under new names. Therefore, the Boims argue, they should be able to collect their judgment against the deadbeat defendants from AMP/AJP. The federal district court initially dismissed their case, but on appeal the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal last summer and returned the case to the district court.
The defendants then filed motions to dismiss the case, basically claiming the plaintiffs hadn’t provided enough details to support a legal claim. The district court rejected this argument on May 17. At this point, the court isn’t saying anything has been proven, just that the Boims have detailed enough facts to support a legitimate claim. Referring to AMP and AJP as “Entity Defendants,” the court said:
As the Seventh Circuit observed, the Boims’ “complaint is replete with factual allegations … show[ing]” that Entity Defendants are “a disguised continuance of [AMS/IAP] and Holy Land.” 9 F.4th at 555. Specifically, the Boims allege facts supporting each factor the Seventh Circuit identified as relevant to a determination of alter ego liability in the context of this case: “overlap in leadership, same organizational purpose, similarity of operations, and unlawful motive or intent to escape liability.” Id. at 559.
Specifics the court noted included the following:
Overlapping leadership: Three AMS/IAP board members became Entity Defendants’ board members. Close relatives of two other AMS/IAP board members joined Entity Defendants’ boards. Three people who were “actively involved with IAP/AMS” joined Entity Defendants’ boards, including two who held leadership positions in Holy Land and IAP affiliates. IAP’s executive director became Entity Defendants’ executive director and/or director of operations.
Same organizational purpose, namely, providing indirect support for Hamas: Entity Defendants used Holy Land’s and AMS/IAP’s intangible assets “to raise money, spread the organization’s message, advance the organization’s pro-Hamas/anti-Israel political objectives, provide a fundraising platform for pro-Hamas intermediary organizations, and… provide indirect support for Hamas itself,” just as Holy Land and AMS/IAP had.
Substantially similar operations: “[A]mong the most significant activities of IAP and AMS was an annual conference.” After Holy Land and AMS/IAP purportedly closed, “the conferences continued under [American Muslims for Palestine’s] auspices” months later, with the same “audience, content, format, management, speakers, and… message.” In addition, Entity Defendants allegedly aligned themselves with a newspaper that “replace[d]” IAP’s newspaper, having an “essentially identical” format, content, target audience, website, and advertising base. And, as noted, Entity Defendants allegedly continued to provide the same indirect support for Hamas that Holy Land and AMS/IAP had.
Unlawful motive: Finally, the complaint alleges that Entity Defendants were formed with unlawful motive to escape liability for the Boim I judgment. (“On information and belief, the leaders of the IAP/AMS organization claimed IAP and AMS had closed down and ceased operations for the purpose of deflecting Plaintiffs’ enforcement efforts and evading further liability”); (“[T]he IAP/AMS organization’s leaders deliberately and successfully evaded Plaintiffs’ enforcement efforts by means of false claims that the IAP/AMS organization had been shut down and ceased to operate. They obscured the identity of the IAP/AMS organization as the predecessor of [Defendant American Muslims for Palestine] and the source of its critical assets, leadership and mission”).
Defendants filed answers (here and here) to the First Amended Complaint on June 16. Basically, the corporate defendants admit that they are focused on Palestinian issues and claim their appearance on the scene after the deadbeat defendants became defunct is a mere coincidence of timing. They deny most of the other allegations, and specifically deny that they have ever supported Hamas “efforts and ideology,” or provided material support to Hamas.
But there are some notable exceptions. For instance, paragraph 20 of the complaint alleges that Osama Abuirshaid and other AMP leaders were “vocal advocates and proponents of this [Hamas] ideology and political program.” Defendants coyly responded that AMP itself does not vocally advocate any violent ideology and/or political program – but that wasn’t the allegation. They also assert that the allegation about Osama Abuirshaid lacks “completeness [and] context,” but don’t deny the facts plaintiffs have asserted. They also don’t deny receiving significant funding from the Mosque Foundation of the Bridgeview Mosque. They admit that AMP and AJP are being run together. That could be important, because failure to maintain formalities between different corporations is part of what the plaintiffs’ claim is about. They admit running conferences beginning in 2006, more or less when IAP/AMS became defunct.
Next, the parties will conduct what’s called discovery, meaning they get to find out what information each has by looking at their documents and questioning their witnesses.
The Boims’ suit is important for at least two reasons. First, every dollar these organizations end up paying to the Boims is a dollar that doesn’t go indirectly – or directly – to support Hamas’s goals. Second, the suit is important to publicize the current defendants’ ties to unsavory organizations and people, and thereby counter the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda campaign they are conducting. Kudos to the Boims for honoring their son’s memory by fighting the good fight.
[Featured Image: American Muslims for Palestine ‘We Shall Return Shirts’ On Sale At 2019 Annual Conference]DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.