The Washington field office of the FBI is actively investigating the founding chairman and acting executive director of the nation’s premier Islamic-rights group in Washington, based on evidence that emerged from the largest terror-financing case in U.S. history, a blockbuster new book alleges.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, along with its founding chairman Omar M. Ahmad, were named by the U.S. Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in a criminal conspiracy led by the Holy Land Foundation charity to underwrite Palestinian terrorism.
“CAIR has been identified by the government at trial as a participant in an ongoing and ultimately unlawful conspiracy to support a designated terrorist organization – a conspiracy from which CAIR never withdrew,” federal prosecutors wrote in September 2007, according to court documents.
Following the blacklisting, the FBI severed ties with CAIR, a move that sent shock waves throughout the American Muslim establishment.
“Until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas,” explained assistant FBI director Richard C. Powers, “the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”
The 15-year-old nonprofit organization’s top executives for years had enjoyed virtually unfettered access to the corridors of power in the capital, even meeting with presidents and rubbing elbows with congressional leaders.
Now Ahmad and CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad have come under active investigation for their roles in the criminal conspiracy to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists, according to “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.”
The officials could not be reached for comment. And CAIR declined comment. Neither official has been charged with a crime.
However, the book quotes Awad privately saying he thought the Holy Land defendants, who were found guilty on all 108 felony counts, should be “exonerated” and suggested “Jewish organizations” framed them.
Both Omar, aka Omar Yehia, and Awad, who uses the alias Nehad Hammad, are Palestinian refugees who together founded CAIR in 1994 after operating the Hamas front Islamic Association for Palestine.
Specifically, the book alleges, investigators are focusing on the CAIR co-founders’ ties to Hamas’ top leader in the U.S. – Shukri Abu Baker – who earlier this year was sentenced to what in effect will be a life term in prison for his role in the Holy Land conspiracy.
They say Abu Baker last decade coordinated a secret meeting with Ahmad in a Philadelphia hotel, where Hamas leaders hatched a scheme to disguise payments to Palestinian suicide bombers and their families as charity. Investigators say the two arranged the meeting in a Dallas phone conversation.
The FBI wiretaps of the meeting also identify the presence of CAIR chief Awad, who gave a presentation regarding plans to conceal the true nature of the front groups involved in the plot through media propaganda efforts. Room invoices from the Courtyard by Marriott hotel meeting are presented in the book.
Investigators also are looking at a trail of money between Baker and CAIR and between Baker and Hamas. As previously reported, Baker had signed a check for at least $5,000 to CAIR as it was starting up operations.
But “Muslim Mafia” – based in part on some 12,000 pages of documents collected from inside CAIR’s national headquarters during a private undercover operation – presents for the first time evidence that CAIR gave at least $40,000 to Baker’s front group in Dallas. Just a few months later that group turned around and gave exactly $40,000 to Hamas suicide bombers in Gaza, documents show.
The transaction was made after the Clinton administration designated Hamas a terrorist entity and outlawed transfer of money to Hamas through charitable donations from U.S. groups and citizens.
The CAIR “investment” (as its internal financial records refer to it) – which represented more than half its assets at the time – ostensibly was funneled through the Islamic Relief Committee, a known charitable front for Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the book alleges.
Islamic Relief at the time had requested more money to finance “weapons to carry out the jihad operations” against Israel and its allies, according to one hand-written missive.
“You do not know how happy people become when they watch those mujahideen,” it added referring to Hamas terrorists, “and how proud they feel when they parade in their uniforms and weapons – and the extent of their honor when they carry out their jihadist operations against the Jews and their tentacles.”
Just months before the Philadelphia hotel meeting, Islamic Relief Committee had solicited money from a secret Hamas subsidiary in the U.S. investigators believe was headed by Baker and Ahmad called the “Palestine Committee.” The FBI says the committee was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, which founded Hamas.
In a letter faxed to a Brotherhood underboss in the U.S., who lives outside Washington, Islamic Relief asked Baker and Ahmad’s special committee for more American money to finance terrorism operations, complaining its “financial needs” were not being met. “Provide us with what helps us of funds and weapons,” it pleaded in one letter from the Gaza Strip. “Weapons, weapons, our brothers.”
“Jihad in Palestine is different from any jihad,” the letter continued. “The meaning of killing a Jew for the liberation of Palestine cannot be compared to any jihad on earth.”
Evidence presented in Muslim Mafia shows the name of CAIR’s current chief Awad appears with Baker’s and Ahmad’s on a list of “important phone and fax numbers” for the Palestine Committee in America.
At the time, Awad lived in Minneapolis where he worked with Ibrahim Hooper, now CAIR’s national communications director.
Moreover, Muslim Mafia presents evidence that now-convicted terrorist Baker has met with CAIR officials at its headquarters located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, according to visitor registration logs obtained in the covert investigation.
The 48-year-old Awad has publicly supported Hamas in the past. “I am in support of the Hamas movement,” he declared the year CAIR was founded.
Like Ahmad, Awad, who has turned down congressional invitations to answer questions under oath, remains under FBI scrutiny.
“He’s a bad guy – one of Hamas’ senior guys in the United States,” the book quotes a veteran special agent with the FBI’s Washington field office saying.
Ahmad, for his part, abruptly resigned from CAIR’s board after his unindicted terrorist co-conspirator designation. The longtime CAIR chairman, 49, is on record telling a Muslim audience in California that the Quran should supersede the U.S. Constitution as the highest authority in the land.
FBI agents and federal prosecutors “are very actively working to indict” CAIR’s national leaders, confirms a U.S. official familiar with the ongoing investigation in connection with the Holy Land case. He says “fresh evidence” emerged from the case, triggering a closer look at both of CAIR’s founders and their connections to Hamas.
The FBI’s Washington field office is working in coordination with the bureau’s Dallas field office on the ongoing investigation. Dallas FBI Special Agent Lara Burns has testified, unequivocally, that CAIR is a front group for the Hamas terrorist group.