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|FBI agents arrest CAIR Texas founder Ghassan Elashi and brothers in 2002.|
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which brands itself as a mainstream promoter of civil rights, has been named with two other prominent U.S. Islamic groups as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a plot to fund the terrorist group Hamas.
Federal prosecutors also cited the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust as participants in a plot with five officials of the defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, who go on trial July 16 in Dallas, the New York Sun reported.
CAIR is a spinoff of the defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, launched by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and former university professor Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Several CAIR staffers have been convicted on terrorism-related charges, and CAIR founder Omar Ahmad allegedly told a group of Muslims they are in America not to assimilate but to help assert Islam’s rule over the country.
The officials on trial in Dallas include Ghassan Elashi, who founded CAIR’s Texas chapter. The Holy Land Foundation also gave $5,000 in seed money to set up CAIR’s Washington office, according to congressional testimony by counter-terrorism researcher Steven Emerson.
As WND reported in October, Elashi already has been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for financial ties to a high-ranking Hamas terrorist and for making illegal computer exports to countries that back terrorism.
The other officials on trial in Dallas are Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulraham Odeh.
The court filing listed the three Islamic groups among about 300 individuals or entities named as co-conspirators, the Sun reported. While few details were given, the prosecutors described CAIR as a present or past member of “the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.”
The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, has spawned many of the leading terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, with its aim to restore the Muslim Caliphate and establish Islamic rule over the world.
The Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust were listed as “entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”
Prosecutors apply the designation “unindicted co-conspirator” because they believe the person or entity was part of the conspiracy. It allows prosecution witnesses to testify of statements the alleged conspirators made outside of court, which normally is forbidden as hearsay.
The secretary-general of the Islamic Society of North America, Muneer Fareed, expressed surprise to the New York paper at being named in the case and said he was not aware of any connection between his group and the foundation.
The Sun said spokesmen for CAIR did not respond to requests for comment, and efforts to contact the North American Islamic Trust were unsuccessful.
In March, the House Republican Conference urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cancel an event hosted on Capitol Hill by CAIR, calling the group “terrorist apologists.”
The group’s regular meetings with the Justice Department and FBI have prompted complaints from case agents, who say the bureau rarely can make a move in the Muslim community without first consulting with CAIR, which sits on its advisory board.
CAIR has conducted “sensitivity” and cultural training with federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and with the military. In June, a senior Department of Homeland Security official from Washington guided CAIR officials on a behind-the-scenes tour of Customs screening operations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in response to CAIR complaints that Muslim travelers were being unfairly delayed as they entered the U.S. from abroad.
Last year, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., withdrew an award she gave to a local CAIR official, saying she was concerned about some statements by CAIR leaders.
CAIR says its aim is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”