Judge Moves to Curtail Law on Aid to Terrorists

A federal judge Monday tentatively barred the government from enforcing portions of a 1996 law that criminalizes a broad range of private aid to foreign groups considered by the State Department to be terrorist organizations.

Saying she would grant a preliminary injunction sought by the Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project and several other plaintiffs, U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins declared that certain terms in the law were "impermissibly vague."

She specifically declared as unenforceable a portion of the law that makes it a crime to provide "personnel" and "training" to organizations deemed to be terrorist.

Left intact would be bans on the contribution of such items as weapons, explosives, money, safe houses, lodging and false identity papers.

Collins said she would make her ruling final in the next few days.

Citing the 1st Amendment, the plaintiffs had requested that the judge also lift the ban on monetary contributions, but she refused.

A lawyer for those who sought the injunction said the judge's refusal is at odds with the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals, which ruled last year that fund-raising for the lawful activities of a foreign terrorist organization is protected by the 1st Amendment, absent a specific intent to further the illegal ends of the terrorists.

An appeal is expected.

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