DECEMBER 14, 2004
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, claimed vindication for its client, FBI Special Agent Robert Wright, after a federal judge ordered U.S.-based Islamic "charity" organizations to pay a family $156 million for the murder of their son by Palestinian terrorists who were funded by the groups. Special Agent Wright initiated an investigation of the groups, but the FBI shut down the probe and criticized Wright.
A federal jury in Chicago last week awarded damages of $52 million against the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Quranic Literacy Institute and Muhammad Salah, which worked in the United States raising funds and laundering money for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Federal magistrate Arlander Keys tripled the award to Joyce and Stanley Boim, whose 17-year-old son was murdered in Israel in 1996 by members of Hamas.
Special Agent Wright in 1996 started an investigation of the "charity" groups’ activities. Code named "Vulgar Betrayal," the investigation led to the seizure of $1.4 million from Salah and a U.S.-based educational group with ties to Hamas. But because of turf battles within the FBI and because it appeared that some of the money had come from Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, the investigation was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department in early 2000. Wright publicly criticized the FBI for its handling of terrorist investigations. In retaliation, the FBI has brought several administrative actions against Wright in an attempt to fire him. A memo written by a former FBI official tells how the FBI tried to "take out" Wright. The 14-year veteran of the FBI has two separate lawsuits pending against the agency and is represented in both cases by Judicial Watch and former U.S. House impeachment counsel David Schippers of the Chicago law firm of Schippers and Bailey.
The Justice Department reopened the investigation of the Islamic "charities," and in August, Salah and two other men were charged with racketeering conspiracy for fundraising for and funneling money to Hamas over a 15-year period.
"This bittersweet victory for the Boims was secured through Bob Wright’s investigation of these terrorist front groups, yet the FBI and the Justice Department have never acknowledged Bob’s efforts and, in fact, have tried to fire him for being critical of their mistake in shutting down the investigation," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Bob was vindicated in August when these groups and individuals were indicted and now with this latest action. The FBI and the Justice Department owe Bob Wright an apology."