Attorneys used both of them counter government assertions that the defendants were Islamic extremists and Hamas supporters by offering jurors historical and cultural context to the defendants' views and actions.
The government tried to keep both men off the stand. They argued that jurors did not need an analyst to tell them how to interpret songs praising Hamas and bashing Jews sung by Mufid Abdulqader and his band at Holy Land fundraisers. And prosecutors complained that Dr. Esposito's testimony was too broad and did not speak to the charges the defendants are facing.
Dr. Esposito, who teaches religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, began Monday by talking about a wide array of topics related to Islam, including alternative meanings of terms such as "jihad" and "Islamist." He noted that both can have definitions that do not connote extremism.
He told jurors it was important to study Islamic thought and practice to keep from stereotyping or misunderstanding aspects of Arab Muslim culture.
"You don't want to judge Christianity by people who blow up abortion clinics," he said.
At one point under questioning by defense attorney Nancy Hollander, Dr. Esposito reacted to an internal Muslim Brotherhood memo laying out plans for an Islamic takeover of the U.S. The memo -- one of several similiar documents that have generated attention from researchers since their release in this case -- was confiscated from unindicted coconspirator Ismail Elbarasse, who had many of the same connections to Hamas leadership as the five defendants.
The memo was "clearly made by a radical terrorist organization," Dr. Esposito said, in reaction to a question by Hollander whether it summed up mainstream Islamic thought. He said that it is not indicative of the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, which he characterized as working to spread Islam through the political process.
On cross examination, Jim Jacks challenged Dr. Esposito on his conclusion that the Muslim Brotherhood was largely a political movement whose members had never sponsored violence. He also questioned Dr. Esposito's assertion that there was no central control of the Brotherhood's various chapters in countries throughout the world. It is the government's theory that Holy Land was created by a committee of Palestinian extremists in the U.S. at the behest of the Brotherhood's central leadership to serve as Hamas' fundraising arm in America. Prosecutors contend that the Brotherhood leadership set up similar "Palestine Committees" in other countries to also foster support of Hamas.
Dr. Esposito also told jurors he had, in the past, worked with the United Association for Studies and Research, or UASR, a defunct think tank that the government says was founded by Hamas leader and early Holy Land benefactor Mousa Abu Marzook. Dr. Esposito told jurors that, at the time, he did not know it was affiliated with Hamas.
Under cross examination, Dr. Esposito testified that he had spoken at Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, functions "five or six times" since it was formed more than a decade ago. One was a Dallas fundraiser for the five defendants last August.
CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case whose founders, according to the FBI, were closely tied to the same Hamas network as the defendants.
+ The defense's fourth witness, David McDonald, a professor of ethnomusicology at Indiana University, testified about his analysis of performances by defendant Mufid Abdulqader and his band Al Sakhra (named "the Rock" for this) at Holy Land fundraisers.
Dr. McDonald told jurors that in the late 80s and early 90s, Al Sakhra had an Islamist bent, corresponding with the rise of Hamas. After 1993, when the Oslo Accords promised peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the band's music was less political, he said.
He also testified that skits, such as those in which Abdulqader played a Hamas soldier "killing" an Israeli at Holy Land fundraisers, were a "really common" form in Palestinian culture, particularly at weddings when two singers debated each other through poetry.
Dr. McDonald compared the violence in Palestinian music to American rap.
"In both cases, the artists are trying to portray what life is like for them and artistically trying to move beyond that experience."
On cross examination, Jim Jacks reminded jurors that Dr. McDonald only got his Ph.D. two years prior.
He also got Dr. McDonald to admit that most of Al Sakhra's songs praised Hamas -- the group the defendants are accused of giving financial support -- rather than other resistance groups.
Jacks also asked Dr. McDonald about a song clip featuring a girl singing about Israeli searches requiring her to remove her head scarf. Was there any mention that Israelis had to perform those searches because Hamas uses women as suicide bombers? Jacks asked. No, Dr. McDonald testified.