WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich headlined a fund-raiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group with ties to the Mideast terrorist organization Hamas and an agenda for an Islamic USA.
CAIR announced its national fund-raising campaign had topped its goal of $1 million thanks in part to the standing-room-only banquet Saturday evening attended by more than 1,000 people, including Kucinich and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
“We would like to thank all those who helped us reach our fund-raising goal,” said CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad. “These added resources will enable us to continue and expand our work defending civil rights and promoting a positive image of Islam.”
Kucinich has taken part in other CAIR events recently, including a Ramadan iftar, or fast breaking, on Capitol Hill hosted by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. That event was co-sponsored by Reps. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., Kucinich, Conyers, D-Ohio, Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
At least one elected official, Meeks, had second thoughts about participating in the CAIR event. When questioned about his attendance at a CAIR dinner earlier this month, he told the New York Sun: “I don’t want to be associated with anyone who condones suicide bombers, anti-Semitism, or any group that condones the extremism in Islam.” He added, “I’m going to do some checking into this right now. I am going to talk to some of my colleagues, particularly some of my Jewish colleagues.”
He said that based on his conversation with the Sun, “I will probably not attend.”
CAIR came under fire in the last year as individuals associated with the organization were indicted on federal terrorism charges.
Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of the Texas chapter of CAIR, was indicted Dec. 17, 2002, in the northern district of Texas for engaging in financial transactions with Hamas leader Musa abu Marzook.
Ismail Randall Royer, a CAIR communications specialist between 1997 and October 2001, was indicted by a grand jury in the eastern district of Virginia in June 2003, on charges that he and 10 other Muslim men were part of a conspiracy to support violent jihad overseas. According to the indictment, Royer traveled to Pakistan and trained with automatic weapons at a training camp associated with Lashkar E-Tayyiba.
CAIR’s former director of community relations, Bassam Khafagi, was indicted in January on bank fraud charges.
Stephen Emerson, the director of the Investigative Project, a nonprofit group that examines terrorist connections in America, says the investigation was part of a larger terrorism case by the Justice Department.
“CAIR has been apologists for Islamic terrorism,” said Emerson.
CAIR was criticized by some for not condemning Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization for the Sept. 11 terror attacks until three months later.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper indicated in a 1993 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he wants the United States to become a Muslim country.
“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future,” Hooper told the Star Tribune. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”
Founded in 1994, CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association of Palestine, identified as a “front group” for the terrorist group Hamas, according to Steve Pomerantz, former chief of the FBI’s counterterrorism section.
Another ex-FBI counterterrorism chief, Oliver “Buck” Revell, has called the Islamic Association For Palestine – Hooper’s former employer – “a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants.”
CAIR advisory board member Siraj Wahhaj was named by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White on Feb. 2, 1995, as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments,” including the World Trade Center in 1993.
Ahmad, the chairman, reportedly told a rally of California Muslims in 1998: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”