When Sameeh Hammoudeh and his father discussed books and donations to a Palestinian school for blind children, they really were talking about charity donations and books, his father testified Monday.
Taha Hammoudeh, 78, brought to his son's terror-support trial copies of the receipts he said he received when he made donations to a school for blind girls in the West Bank. The receipts run from the 1990s and into 2000.
He also brought photographs of the school.
Sameeh Hammoudeh raised money for the school while he was a University of South Florida graduate student and a teacher at a private Islamic school founded by Sami Al-Arian.
Prosecutors say little of that money went to charity and that Hammoudeh was on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's payroll. They have alleged that he and fellow defendants Sami Al-Arian, Ghassan Ballut and Hatim Fariz used code phrases for money, such as "magazines," in conversations secretly intercepted by the FBI. The men are charged with four conspiracy counts, including racketeering and providing material support to terrorists.
Taha Hammoudeh testified that intercepted calls with his son contained no code. He said he often donated profits from a family-owned bookstore to the school and other needy people in the West Bank. Then he instructed his son to keep a like amount of money from Tampa donors.
During cross-examination, he said he also sent bookstore profits to support his son's life and studies in Tampa. He never wrote a check or wired the money, he said, but sent as much as $1,000 a month to the United States with people who were traveling here. He could not name anyone who delivered money to his son.
When asked how much profit the store generated, he said it often failed to make money because of the situation in the occupied territories.
The Hammoudeh men are heard on several calls discussing donations and receipts but not about money flowing from the West Bank to Tampa. Sameeh Hammoudeh is heard in other calls complaining about financial troubles and insufficient pay from Al-Arian.
Taha Hammoudeh's cross-examination continues today.
Earlier Monday, Sameeh Hammoudeh's daughter, Weeam, and another woman testified about the high-quality education they received at the Islamic Academy of Florida. The indictment includes the school among a series of fronts said to be used by the group to cover support for the Islamic Jihad.
Weeam Hammoudeh, 19, soon will graduate from Florida International University and said she plans to go to medical school.