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On October 13, 2005 InfoCom Corporation was sentenced to two years’ probation resulting in it being shut down due to charges of conspiracy to violate the Export Administration Regulations and the Libyan Sanctions Regulations. Its founding members were also convicted on charges of false statements, money laundering and fundraising on behalf of the U.S.- terrorist designated Hamas.
InfoCom was jointly founded in 1992 by Bayan Elashi, Ghassan Elashi, Basman Elashi, Hazim and Ihsan “Sammy” Elashi as a family-run business that mostly sold computers and Internet services to customers primarily based in the Middle East. Bayan Elashi was Infocom chief executive officer, Ghassan Elashi was the company vice-president of marketing, while Basman Elashi was the logistics and credit manager. Hazim Elashi served as InfoCom manager of personal computer systems, and Ihsan Elashi was a systems consultant and sales representative.
At its peak, it hosted approximately 500 mostly Arab websites. The company hosted the domain .iq for the country of Iraq. The company hosted websites for Muslim organizations in the United States, including the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Students Association. The company also hosted websites for entities abroad, including the Qatari television station Al Jazeera, the Qatari newspaper al-Sharq, and Berzeit (Palestinian University of the West Bank). However, not only did InfoCom provide computer services to organizations and entities with terrorist ties; legal proceedings confirmed that the corporation laundered money on behalf of Hamas, transferred funds to its political leader and exported technology to Libya and Syria in violation of U.S. export control regulations that restrict or prohibit the export of technology, goods or software to countries listed as sponsors of terrorism.
InfoCom Corporation achieved notoriety for its connections with terrorist organizations Al Qaeda and Hamas and with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
In early 2001, the Dallas Morning News first started to publish stories about InfoCom’s suspected ties to Hamas, although the FBI had launched a criminal investigation in 1999. Evidence collected during a three-day raid of the offices of InfoCom Corporation beginning on September 5, 2001 conducted by the U.S. Joint Terrorist Task Force definitively confirmed InfoCom’s affiliation with terrorist organizations.
InfoCom attracted the attention of the U.S. authorities in 1998, when the name of an employee was found among the contact information listed in the address book of Osama Bin Laden’s former personal secretary, Wadih el-Hage, discovered by the FBI. The employee concerned, Ghassan Dahduli, ran the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), that had been co-founded by Ghassan Elashi.
Both el-Hage and Dahduli lived in Tucson, Arizona, until 1990, when the latter moved to Richardson, Texas, with the IAP office. In 1998 both met again in Texas. The connection between el-Hage and Dahduli prompted the FBI to open an investigation that led to the Holy Land Foundation trials as well as to the terrorist designation of a number of affiliated entities. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was the largest Islamic charitable group present in the U.S. that was convicted of providing financial and material support to Hamas and shut down by U.S. authorities after being designated as a terrorist organization in December 2001.
In his book Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad Matthew Levitt reported that InfoCom was actively involved in fundraising on behalf of Hamas “but also provided services to Hamas members, front organizations and supporters.”
Ghassan Elashi, who served as InfoCom vice-president, was one of the founders and chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Ghassan was the founder of the Texas-based chapter of the Council on American Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group directly related to the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., and a co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Ghassan was also one of the founders of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), as association that has been accused of raising money for Hamas in the U.S. and which shares founding members and trustees with CAIR.
Ghassan was also related by marriage to Mousa Abu Marzook, a Palestinian senior member of Hamas then serving as a political leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Marzook himself was listed as a Specially Designated Terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1995. Nonetheless, Marzook was a major investor in InfoCom, and the corporation engaged on a regular basis in financial dealings with both Abu Marzook and his wife Nadia Elashi. FBI criminal investigations ascertained that Abu Marzook invested $150,000 in InfoCom in 1992, while his wife invested $250,000 in 1993.
Over the years, the former owners have been convicted of a multitude of charges involving funneling money to and doing business with terrorist organizations. The corporation, already defunct, was sentenced to two years probation
In July 2004, all five brothers were convicted on charges “they conspired to violate the Export Administration Regulations and the Libyan Sanctions Regulations.” According to U.S. Department of Justice records, all brothers with the exception of Ihsan Elashi were also convicted on money laundering charges. Furthermore, in April 2005 the jury found that Bayan Elashi, Ghassan Elashi, Basman Elashi and Infocom Corporation conspired and transferred funds to Mousa Abu Marzook.
Ihsan Elashi and the company itself remain on the U.S. Department of Commerce's Denied Persons List, with an expiration date of June 29, 2056; the list gives Ihsan Elashi's current address as FCI Seagoville.
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- InfoCom (Archive)