Dutch lawyer to U.S.: funding Islamists is not a crime

February 27, 2010

The U.S. Patriot Act made providing “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization illegal.

If you’re an attorney for a terrorist, “material support” may sound too vague, broad, and hostile to free speech.  You might even fight the concept of material support all the way to the Supreme Court on behalf of your client.

But the concept really doesn’t require Supreme Court scrutiny.  It is common sense (and perfectly constitutional) for Congress to prohibit supporting terrorists, whether than means financially, logistically, or verbally.

But they must not have a law like the Patriot Act in the Netherlands.  The Dutch don’t want to extradite Mohamud Said Omar, a jihadist who raised funds for Somali Islamists, back to the U.S., and they don’t have much to charge him with themselves.  From Monday’s Washington Post:

Mohamud Said Omar, 44, is suspected of providing money to the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab that was used to buy guns. Around 20 youths of Somali descent are believed to have traveled to Somalia from Minnesota since 2007 to help the group, which the U.S. says has ties to al-Qaida.

Omar’s lawyers say he never intended to help terrorists.

“In any case Omar denies that he has ever been involved in any way whatsoever with the financing of terrorism,” his lawyer Bart Stapert said.

Omar has been held in a high-security Dutch prison since his arrest at the request of the U.S. government in November. He has residency in the U.S. but had been living in a center for would-be asylum seekers in the Netherlands since December 2008, apparently before he was a suspect.

A total of 14 people have been charged in the ongoing U.S. federal investigation into the travels of as many as 20 young men who went to Somalia to fight over a period of two years starting in 2007. They face a variety of accusations from recruiting and raising funds for the trips, to engaging in terrorist acts in Somalia and perjury.

Omar was the only one in the Netherlands.

According to his extradition request, U.S. officials plan to charge Omar with providing or conspiring to provide “material support to a foreign terrorist organization,” and “conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure.”

Stapert argued that the specific acts Omar is said to have committed – including gathering money in the U.S., taking youths to the airport, and speaking and meeting with people who had been to Somalia – would not be considered crimes in the Netherlands (emphasis mine).

For space I omitted the first and final paragraphs which you can read here.

If our Supreme Court declares the material support provisions of the Patriot Act unconstitutional, we would be stuck like the Dutch.  Little jihadi urchins in Minneapolis could raise zakat from their local mosque, stuff it in a bag, fly to Somalia, and fund jihadist insurgencies against Western interests with impunity.

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