February 2, 2012

U.S. Attorney’s Office Confirms Investigation Is Ongoing into Antiwar Activists

The Northern Illinois Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas stated that the “investigation is continuing” into the case of the anti-war and international solidarity activists hit with FBI raids and grand jury repression. Barry Jonas is known for his leading role in prosecuting the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation while he was trial attorney for the Department of Justice Counter-terrorism Section.

This confirms what the U.S. Attorney’s office related some months ago—they are preparing multiple indictments of multiple activists. The FBI raided seven homes and the government subpoenaed 23 international solidarity activists to a Chicago grand jury over a year ago. The anti-war activists refused to appear at the secretive grand jury and launched a campaign against political repression. The U.S. government is threatening to imprison anti-war activists on the grounds of “material support for terrorism.”

The confirmation of the ongoing investigation came during a January 24, 2012 phone call between Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas and attorney Bruch Nestor, who represents some of the political activists.

Nestor initially contacted Minneapolis Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter to view some of the sealed documents in the case. The grand jury proceedings against the anti-war activists are secret. The vast majority of documents relating to their case are under seal, meaning the targeted activists or their attorneys cannot view them. Assistant U.S. Attorney Winter helped to oversee the Sept. 24, 2010 raids and in recent months represented the government on the issue of returning property seized in the raids. Winter told Nestor to contact Chicago Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas.

Jonas told Nestor the documents would remain secret “pending completion of the investigation.”

Barry Jonas is responsible for railroading the Holy Land leaders. Jonas views solidarity with Palestine as a crime deserving long-term imprisonment. He is willing to pull every dirty trick available to him to obtain convictions. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. Its efforts were geared towards providing humanitarian aid to help the people of Palestine and other countries. In 2001 its offices were raided. Three years later, five people associated with the charity were indicted. The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial ended with convictions. The five defendants received sentences that range from 15 to 65 years in prison.

The trial included secret witnesses – the defense never got to find out who the witnesses were – the use of hearsay evidence, and the introduction of evidence that had nothing to do with the defendants in the case, such as showing a video from Palestine of protesters burning an American flag, as a means to prejudice the jury.

As lead prosecutor, Barry Jonas played a key role in all this. He is now working under Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who runs the federal grand jury attacking anti-war and international solidarity activists.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression urges all supporters of peace with justice to sign the pledge to take action (http://www.stopfbi.net/get-involved/pledge-of-resistance) in the event that international solidarity activists are indicted. In a closely related case, the FBI directed the LA Sheriff to raid the home of veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes. Carlos Montes is now facing trial and imprisonment on six felony charges relating back to a student protest that happened 42 years ago.