As the Council on American-Islamic Relations lobbies Congress to help strike its name from a list of co-conspirators in a federal terror case, WND has learned the Muslim group’s ties to terrorism and extremism are far more extensive than first believed.
Although CAIR is a nonprofit organization, it does not disclose complete directories of its staff or advisory boards, and even refuses to make its federal tax filings readily available to the public.
But a review of federal criminal court documents, past IRS 990 tax records and Federal Election Commission records detailing donor occupations, reveals that Washington-based CAIR has been associated with a disturbing number of convicted terrorists or felons in terrorism probes, as well as suspected terrorists and active targets of terrorism investigations.
“Their offices have been a turnstile for terrorists and their supporters,” said one FBI veteran familiar with recent and ongoing cases involving CAIR officials.
As previously reported, three CAIR officials have been linked to terrorism. But WND has learned that at least 11 other CAIR officials have been caught up in terror investigations, bringing the total to 14.
Congressional leaders say they are warning lawmakers and other Washington officials to disassociate from the group due to its growing terror ties.
“Groups like CAIR have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., co-founder of the House Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus.
CAIR itself recently was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to the terrorist group Hamas. In the Holy Land Foundation case, federal prosecutors also listed CAIR as a member of the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement that gave rise to Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The government will retry the Holy Land case, which ended in a hung jury.
“There was a lot of evidence presented at the recent Holy Land Foundation trial which exposed CAIR and others as front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” Myrick said.
Still, CAIR is lobbying House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and other sympathetic members of Congress to pressure the Justice Department to expunge its name from the case, arguing the negative publicity has hurt membership and fundraising.
The federal judge during the trial refused a written request by the group to strike its name from the list of co-conspirators. The petition is still pending before the court.
CAIR denies supporting terrorism and continues to claim to be a “moderate” voice for Muslims in America. The group says its critics are the extremists, including radio personality Michael Savage, whom the group is now attacking with a boycott campaign. So far it has convinced Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, AT&T, JCPenney and other companies to stop advertising on Savage’s popular show.
In response, Savage last week filed a lawsuit against CAIR, accusing the organization of being a “political vehicle of international terrorism” that seeks to do “material harm to those voices who speak against the violent agenda of CAIR’s clients.”
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for CAIR, told WND the group would not comment on Savage’s action until the document had been reviewed.
CAIR, which runs 33 offices and chapters nationwide, also recently helped defeat an anti-terror plan by Los Angeles police to map the local Muslim community for extremist neighborhoods. Now it’s pressuring GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to back down from his position against appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet.
Critics counter that CAIR has no legitimate voice to make such complaints, because the group is itself an extremist organization that has employed or appointed to its boards of directors and advisers an inordinate number of radical co-conspirators, suspected and convicted terrorists, and other criminals.
Indeed, the list is long and growing, and includes:
- Muthanna al-Hanooti: The CAIR director’s home was raided last year by FBI agents in connection with an active terrorism investigation. Agents also searched the offices of his advocacy group, Focus on Advocacy and Advancement of International Relations, which al-Hanooti operates out of Dearborn, Mich., and Washington, D.C.
FAAIR claims to be a consulting firm raising awareness of Sunni grievances in Iraq, but investigators suspect it’s a front supporting the Sunni-led insurgency.
Muthanna al-Hanooti, wearing traditional headgarb
Al-Hanooti, who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, formerly helped run a suspected Hamas terror front called LIFE for Relief and Development. Its Michigan offices also were raided last September. In 2004, LIFE’s Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers.
Al-Hanooti is related to Shiek Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He currently leads prayers at a Washington-area mosque that aided some of the 9/11 hijackers.
The FBI alleges al-Hanooti, an ethnic-Palestinian who also emigrated from Iraq, raised money for Hamas. In fact, “Al-Hanooti collected over $6 million for support of Hamas,” according to a 2001 FBI report, and was present with CAIR and Holy Land officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held last decade at a Philadelphia hotel.
Prosecutors recently added his name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
Al-Hanooti denies supporting Hamas, although he’s praised Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs” who are “alive in the eyes of Allah.”
Earlier this year, his younger brother, Hamid al-Hanooti, was found dead in Iraq after reportedly being held by local security forces as a suspected terrorist.
- Laura Jaghlit: A civil-rights coordinator for CAIR, her Washington-area home was raided by federal agents after 9/11 as part of an investigation into terrorist financing, money laundering and tax fraud. Her husband Mohammed Jaghlit, a key leader in the Saudi-backed SAAR network, is a target of the still-active probe.
Last decade, Jaghlit sent two letters accompanying donations – one for $10,000, the other for $5,000 – from the SAAR Foundation to Sami al-Arian, now a convicted terrorist. In each letter, according to a federal affidavit, “Jaghlit instructed al-Arian not to disclose the contribution publicly or to the media.”
Investigators suspect the funds were intended for Palestinian terrorists via a U.S. front called WISE, which at the time employed an official who personally delivered a satellite phone battery to Osama bin Laden. The same official also worked for Jaghlit’s group.
In addition, Jaghlit donated a total of $37,200 to the Holy Land Foundation, which prosecutors say is a Hamas front. Jaghlit subsequently was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the ongoing case.
- Abdurahman Alamoudi: Another CAIR director, he is serving 23 years in federal prison for plotting terrorism. Alamoudi, who was caught on tape complaining bin Laden hadn’t killed enough Americans in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, was one of al-Qaida’s top fund-raisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- Nihad Awad: For the first time, wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR’s executive director at a Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists that was secretly recorded by the FBI. Participants allegedly hatched a plot to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as charitable giving.
During the meeting, according to FBI transcripts, Awad was recorded discussing the propaganda effort. He mentions Ghassan Dahduli, whom he worked with at the time at the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Hamas front. Both were IAP officers. Dahduli’s name also was listed in the address book of bin Laden’s personal secretary, Wadi al-Hage, who is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the U.S. embassy bombings. Dahduli, an ethnic-Palestinian like Awad, was deported to Jordan after 9/11 for refusing to cooperate in the terror investigation.
Awad’s and Dahduli’s phone numbers are listed in a Muslim Brotherhood document seized by federal investigators revealing “important phone numbers” for the “Palestine Section” of the Brotherhood in America. The court exhibit shows Hamas fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook listed on the same page with Awad.
- Omar Ahmad: U.S. prosecutors also named CAIR’s founder and chairman emeritus as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. Ahmad too was placed at the Philly meeting, FBI special agent Lara Burns testified at the trial. Prosecutors also designated him as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Palestine Committee” in America. Ahmad, like his CAIR partner Awad, is ethnic-Palestinian.
(Though both Ahmad and Awad were senior leaders of IAP, the Hamas front, neither of their biographical sketches posted on CAIR’s website mentions their IAP past.)
- Nabil Sadoun: A current CAIR board member, Sadoun has served on the board of the United Association for Studies and Research, which investigators believe to be a key Hamas front in America. In fact, Sadoun co-founded UASR with Hamas leader Marzook. The Justice Department added UASR to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
- Mohamed Nimer: CAIR’s current research director also served as a board director for UASR, the strategic arm for Hamas in the U.S.
(Tellingly, CAIR neglects to mention Nimer’s and Sadoun’s roles in UASR in their bios.)
- Rafeeq Jaber: A founding director of CAIR, Jaber was the long-time president of the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2002, a federal judge found that “the Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of Hamas.” In his capacity as IAP chief, Jaber praised Hezbollah attacks on Israel. He also served on the board of a radical mosque in the Chicago area.
- Rabith Hadid: The CAIR fund-raiser was a founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by Treasury for financing al-Qaida and other terror groups. Its assets were frozen in December 2001. Hadid was arrested on terror-related charges and deported to Lebanon in 2003.
Siraj Wahhaj: A member of CAIR’s board of advisers, Wahhaj was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The radical Brooklyn imam was close to convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and defended him during his trial.
- Randall “Ismail” Royer: The former CAIR communications specialist and civil-rights coordinator is serving 20 years in prison in connection with the Virginia Jihad Network, which he led while employed by CAIR at its Washington headquarters. The group trained to kill U.S. soldiers overseas, cased the FBI headquarters, and cheered the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. Al-Qaida operative Ahmed Abu Ali, convicted of plotting to assassinate President Bush, was among those who trained with Royer’s Northern Virginia cell.
- Bassam Khafagi: Another CAIR official, Khafagi was arrested in 2003 while serving as CAIR’s director of community affairs. He pleaded guilty to charges of bank and visa fraud stemming from a federal counterterror probe of his leadership role in the Islamic Assembly of North America, which has supported al-Qaida and advocated suicide attacks on America. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and deported to his native Egypt.
- Ghassan Elashi: One of CAIR’s founding directors, he was convicted in 2004 of illegally shipping high-tech goods to terror state Syria, and is serving 80 months in prison. He’s also charged with providing material support to Hamas in the Holy Land Foundation trial. He was chairman of the charity, which provided seed capital to CAIR. Elashi is related to Hamas leader Marzook.
- Hamza Yusuf: The FBI investigated the CAIR board member after 9/11, because just two days before the attacks, he made an ominous prediction to a Muslim audience.
“This country is facing a terrible fate and the reason for that is because this country stands condemned,” Yusuf warned. “It stands condemned like Europe stood condemned because of what it did. And lest people forget, Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands.”
CAIR, which receives financial backing from Saudi and Emirati royalty, denies charges that it has a secret agenda to Islamize America. But a Muslim Brotherhood document declassified in the Holy Land case reveals that CAIR’s parent was among Muslim organizations enlisted in a secret plot to destroy the American system from within and eventually take over the country.
Written early last decade in Arabic, the manifesto lays bare the subversive role of CAIR’s forerunner, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and other Muslim groups in America to carry out a “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
CAIR’s founder Ahmad, while claiming to be a moderate and patriotic American, last decade told a group of Muslims in Northern California that they are in America to help assert Islam’s rule over the country.
“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” a local reporter quoted him as saying, adding, “The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
Ahmad insists he was misquoted. However, an FBI wiretap transcript quotes Ahmad agreeing with terrorist suspects gathered last decade at the secret Philly meeting to “camouflage” their true intentions.
He compared it to the head fake in basketball. “This is like one who plays basketball: He makes a player believe that he is doing this, while he does something else,” Ahmad said. “I agree with you. Like they say, politics is a completion of war.”
What’s more, Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, also has expressed his wish to overturn the U.S. system of government in favor of an “Islamic” state.
“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 said in a 1993 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”
Though conceding he made the remark, Hooper argues that he’s never advocated violence. He says he and Muslims like him should work instead through the media and use “education” to help turn America into an Islamic state.