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Imam Siraj Wahhaj

Prior to its 15th annual banquet, the Council on American-Islamic Relations headlined two controversial Muslims as its speakers, but after exposure in the wake of a new book documenting the group’s radical ties, one ended up with a brief role, and the other didn’t show up at all.

Imam Siraj Wahhaj – who is on record urging a violent overthrow of the “filthy” U.S. government assisted by jihad warriors armed with Uzis – gave a short fundraising appeal for CAIR at its banquet in Arlington, Va., Saturday night. Dalia Mogahed, an Obama adviser who has advocated Islamic law as implemented in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority nations, was not at the event, according to sources.

As late as nine days prior to the banquet, CAIR featured the two on a special promotional page that opened its website. But on the eve of the event, a press release did not even mention their names. The speakers were listed as Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.S. Rep. Paul Findley, Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society and Agha Saeed, chairman of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections. Muslim comedian Ahmed Ahmed also performed at the banquet, CAIR said.

Mogahed recently defended Islamic law on a British television show hosted by a member of an extremist Muslim group, insisting the majority of women around the world associate it with “gender justice.”

Last week, a nonprofit activist group launched a campaign to urge the Marriott Crystal Gateway to cancel its hosting of the banquet following the release of the book “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which cites internal documents obtained in an undercover operation establishing that CAIR functions as a front for the terrorist group Hamas and its parent, the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR, along with a number of its leaders, was designated an unindicted co-conspirator in the recent prosecution of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, the largest terror-financing case in U.S. history.

After Mogahed was removed from headline status last week and replaced with Jesse Jackson, WND asked Mogahed’s assistant, Jason Bough, if she was still speaking at the event. Bough said that as far as he knew, there had been no changes. Bough did not reply to WND’s call today, and CAIR has not replied to a request for comment.

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Blogger Radio Free Dar al Harb, which had a contact at the banquet, said a more apt theme for the event – rather than “Leading the Change” – would have been “the incredible shrinking CAIR.”

Another attendee of the banquet confirmed the blogger’s report.

Embassies that attended previous CAIR banquets did not have tables this time, the blogger’s source said, and though the Saudi Embassy had a table, “only two people who may, or may not, have been from the Embassy arrived,” leaving most of the places empty.

Also notably absent were representatives of the Jordanian Embassy and the Iranian Interests Section.

But this year, the source said, CAIR welcomed the Libyan ambassador, who received special recognition from Bray, the master of ceremonies, and “a very warm personal greeting” from a local imam, Esam Omeish.

“Muslim Mafia” points out, citing records revealed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, that Bray is a three-time felon who has done prison time. As political director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, he led a Muslim Brotherhood campaign to raise $30,000 to help pay for lawyers to free al-Qaida agent and would-be presidential assassin Ahmed Abu Ali, who is serving a life sentence.

Omeish, “Muslim Mafia” reports, is an advocate of violent jihad who helps run a Saudi-backed, Muslim Brotherhood–controlled mosque in Falls Church, Va., that ministered to some of the Sept. 11 Saudi hijackers prior to the attacks.

Findley, a former Republican congressman, was a supporter of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. In the wake of Sept. 11, Findley blamed the attacks on America’s support for Israel. He released a book shortly before Sept. 11, “Silent No More,” that sought to improve the image of Islam in the U.S. He charged President Bush “overreacted” to the Sept. 11 attacks, and he claimed Americans had been “misled by the American media, which is controlled by the Jewish lobby.”


Opening screen on CAIR’s website that advertised headliners Siraj Wahhaj and Dalia Mogahed

The source at the banquet said CAIR gave most of its awards to its immediate inner circle.

Bray asked for contributions to Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, arguing “you’ve got to be a friend, to get a friend.”

North Carolina state Sen. Larry Shaw, the nation’s longest-serving elected Muslim official, offered “an incoherent diatribe implying the U.S. government was ignoring drug cartels to focus on low-level drug dealers,” according to the source.

Shaw made a joke about the FBI sponsoring tables “that was not well received due to the tangible paranoia in the room,” the source said.

The lawmaker also asked the crowd if there were any U.S. military personnel among them and then if there were any first responders in attendance.

“No one raised a hand or uttered a word. Dead silence,” the source reported.

Bray challenged the claims of Islam expert Robert Spencer, editor of Jihad Watch, and “Muslim Mafia” was “the target of the bully pulpit for the speakers,” the source said.


CAIR also celebrated “victory” in the case of the “flying imams” who were removed from a US Airways flight for suspicious behavior. “Muslim Mafia” co-author Paul Sperry has called the out-of-court settlement a “victory for future hijackers” that “will have a chilling effect on law enforcement and security at our nation’s airports.”

According to Bray, donations to CAIR Saturday night totaled $170,000, which helped the group meet its quarterly goal of $1 million.

Bray reported the night’s tally, the source said, after “a substantially abbreviated fundraising effort” by Wahhaj.

CAIR noted that just before its banquet, the Congressional Tri-Caucus – a coalition of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – released a statement condemning four Republican members of Congress who accused CAIR of conspiring to plant “spies” inside Congress targeting sensitive security-related committees. The lawmakers have formally asked the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether the D.C.-based Muslim group has carried out its alleged plans and asked Attorney General Eric Holder to reveal to Congress members why CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror-finance case in U.S. history.

The Tri-Caucus said, “These charges smack of an America of 60 years ago where lists of ‘un-American’ agitators were identified. We should be affirming the importance of diversity and tolerance for all interns and staff who serve in Congress without suspicion of being identified as ‘spies.’”

The coalition said the “idea that we should investigate Muslim interns as spies is a blow to the very principle of religious freedom that our founding fathers cherished so dearly.”


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