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Libel suit over terror claim is dismissed

Times Staff Writer

At the request of the group that filed it, a libel lawsuit against a former Bush administration official and others has been dismissed. The suit was over a recent book that alleged a U.S.-based Islamic charity funded Middle East terrorists.

The lawsuit was filed in April in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Kids in Need of Development, Education and Relief against Matthew Levitt, who served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department until earlier this year. The suit also named Yale University Press and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy for publishing the book last year.

The Dallas-based charity, known as KinderUSA, alleged in its lawsuit that Levitt’s book, “Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad,” inaccurately alleged that the organization had funded Hamas.

In one passage, Levitt made a connection between KinderUSA and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a now-shuttered Islamic charity that has been accused by the federal government of funneling money to Hamas.

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Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute, has been a government witness in the current Dallas trial of Holy Land, which has denied any support of Hamas or terrorism.

In a statement, the institute called the dismissal of the lawsuit a “complete victory” for Levitt and the book’s publishers.

KinderUSA’s attorney, Todd Gallinger, said the organization decided to request the dismissal of the lawsuit so it could focus its limited resources on charity rather than costly litigation.

“We made no statements, no agreement that the claims in their book are accurate, and in fact, we still contest the statement that KinderUSA financed terrorism,” Gallinger said. “That is why we see this case as a draw.”

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According to its website and lawsuit, the organization was founded five years ago by a group of physicians and humanitarian relief workers to bring education, health and other programs to war zones, including the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

greg.krikorian@latimes.com


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