1st Circuit Hears Appeal Over Concealment Of Islamic Charity's Ties To Militants
On Oct. 4, a day of heightened concerns about international terrorism, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a multipronged appeal concerning three men charged with giving false information to the Internal Revenue Service about a charity allegedly connected to jihadist fighters and the mujahedeen. Although the charges stem from tax law, the case has drawn national attention, because of concerns about terrorism, and attracted major legal talent: One of the defendants is represented by Kathleen Sullivan, a name partner and head of the national appellate practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Sullivan represents Emadeddin Muntasser, who founded Care International Inc., a Massachusetts charity, in 1993. At the time, it billed itself as assisting victims such as widows and orphans of "man-made disasters" or wars, in such countries or regions as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kashmir. The indictment accused the defendants of hiding Care's solicitations of funds for, and publications supporting, Islamic holy war -- "jihad" -- and holy warriors -- "mujahedeen" -- from 1993 to 2003. Sullivan said that her firm has represented Muntasser since 2008 in all post-trial proceedings in this matter as part of its white-collar defense practice: "My Quinn Emanuel partners Faith Gay and Susan Estrich worked with me to win Mr. Muntasser's successful post-verdict judgment of acquittal from Judge Saylor on all the tax counts. Today we defended that victory and sought to overturn the remaining conviction and sentence on the one false statement count."
Harvey Silverglate, of counsel to Boston's Zalkind, Rodriquez Lunt & Duncan, argued the pretrial motions to dismiss at the lower court. He said he brought Sullivan into the case for the appellate argument because it was "partly a constitutional case."
Sullivan argued that the government was advancing a new theory on appeal. The government's new argument, Sullivan said, is that the defendants were guilty of a conspiracy to maintain tax-exempt status. The government's earlier theory was that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to first fraudulently obtain, then maintain, tax-exempt status.
Sullivan countered by noting that Care's efforts relating to obtaining tax-exempt status "dominates the discussion of conspiracy." Even if the change in theory is a nonprejudicial variance, the government's evidence is insufficient for its case against Muntasser, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said there's only one page in the entire transcript linking Muntasser to the conspiracy to maintain Care's tax-exempt status. "The count 6 false statement charge for Mr. Muntasser is not a slam dunk for government," Sullivan said.