Friday, January 13, 2006

Section 805: Material Support

The intent of Section 805 of the Patriot Act is to prohibit material support or resources to any organization that the Secretary of State has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

18 U.S.C. 2339B prohibits "providing material support or resources" to an organization the Secretary of State has designated as a "foreign terrorist organization." The material support ban was first passed as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The provision’s purpose is to deny terrorist groups the ingredients necessary for planning and carrying out attacks. Congress was concerned that terrorist organizations with charitable or humanitarian arms were raising funds within the United States that could then be used to further their terrorist activities. The provision outlawed any support to these groups, irrespective of whether that support was intended for humanitarian purposes.

The antiterrorism law, passed in 1996, passed as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The purpose of the provision is to deny resources to terrorist groups. Section 805 made it illegal to support terrorist groups. Section 805 in the Patriot Act extended the ban to expert advice or assistance.

According to NPR, many legal scholars, and some judges, contend that the provision is vague. The fear is that the provision will lead to guilt by association and criminalize inadvertent association with a terrorist group. Opponents to the provision argue that it stifles free speech

In 2003, Sami al-Hussayen, a student at the University of Idaho, was arrested and prosecuted under section 805 of the Patriot Act. Al-Hussayen was charged because of his work as a Web master for the Islamic Assembly of North America. His duties included supplying Web links to speeches by prominent Muslim scholars. Some of those links advocated criminal activity and suicide operations.

The jury found al-Hussayen not guilty on all the terrorism charges.


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