A Hamas-sympathizing juror may have misled U.S. prosecutors about his neutrality during jury selection in the nation’s largest terror-financing trial, investigators familiar with the case say.
The juror’s “browbeating” of fellow jurors during deliberations in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas led to a mistrial, they say. The Dallas-based charity and its leaders are accused of funneling more than $12 million to Hamas suicide bombers and their families.
WND has learned that prosecutors, who are preparing to retry the case next year, considered investigating the juror for perjury after hearing complaints from other jurors about his pro-Hamas, anti-Israeli bias and obscenity-laced bullying in the jury room.
“One guy caused all the trouble,” said an investigator involved in the case, which charged several U.S. Muslims with conspiracy to support terrorism. “He browbeat other jurors favoring convictions.”
He said the bearded 33-year-old juror who voted not guilty across-the-board made statements in the past that are at variance with his answers to prosecutors’ questions about his bias during the jury selection.
“He clearly wasn’t honest on his voir dire examination,” the source said.
Voir dire is a pretrial process lawyers use to object to prospective jurors with strong opinions in this case, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which might preclude them from weighing the evidence objectively.
Juror William Neal, a Dallas graphic artist, has not tried to hide his opinions on the subject since a mistrial was declared Oct. 22.
His ideological remarks in the media including suggestions Israeli intelligence officers can’t be trusted and their government is guilty of occupying Palestinian lands and oppressing the Palestinian people have raised alarms at the Justice Department.
Neal also has a hard time calling Hamas a terrorist group, even though the U.S. government has listed it as a terrorist organization for the past dozen years.
He told the Dallas Morning News “it’s a political movement. It’s an uprising.”
Asked by the Investigative Project on Terrorism to clarify his statement about Hamas, Neal said: “It is marked as a terrorist organization. My personal viewpoint, I see it as a political struggle.”
“Our country was founded on a terrorist act,” he added. “The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a tea party, dude. It was a rebellion against the king’s wrath. They fought back against an oppressive government.”
Terror expert Steven Emerson of the IPT features a video clip of one juror who said, “I was pressured into voting the way they wanted me to vote.”
In a recent Dallas radio interview, Neal revealed he actively sought a seat on the jury to sway the verdict against the government. He boasted that he fooled federal prosecutors into believing he would be sympathetic to their case.
Neal explained that he noted on his pretrial questionnaire that his father works in the military.
“My answers looked like I was a pro-American, you know, flag-waving American,” he said on the Ernie and Jay show. “They thought I was not going to be able to think for myself and just go on the facts that these were Muslims.”
IPT reported that Neal refused to view key surveillance videotapes of defendants that the government introduced into evidence, arguing it was a waste of time. He talked the group of jurors out of watching them.
When jurors like Kristina Williams challenged Neal and argued for convictions, Neal yelled obscenities at them. “F— your opinion,” Williams said he told her. She said he had his mind made up to acquit the defendants before the trial even began.
Two other jurors Sylvester Holmes and a juror who spoke to IPT only on condition of anonymity also have come forward to complain their arguments for conviction were shot down by Neal.
In the radio interview, Neal said his fellow jurors were ignorant.
“A lot of these people are blue collar, you know, working UPS, working food, cafeteria cashier,” he said. “They had no idea of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Neal took credit for steering many jurors away from convictions, which led to a hung jury.
“Honestly,” he said, “if I hadn’t been on that jury this would have been a different case.”