In stunning testimony on Capitol Hill, the head of the FBI explained his agency has cut off ties to the most influential Muslim organization in America due to concerns over its leaders’ association with terrorism.
Since the Justice Department linked the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations to a 2008 terror-finance case, the FBI has refused to work directly with the group’s national office or any of its 30-plus chapters across the country.
Wednesday’s hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee marked the first time FBI Director Robert Mueller has narrowed down the cause of concern to CAIR’s “national leadership.”
“We have no formal relationship with CAIR because of concerns with regard to the national leadership,” Mueller testified.
CAIR’s current executive director is Nihad Awad.
Wiretap evidence from the Holy Land Foundation terror-finance case put Awad at a Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders that was secretly recorded by the FBI. Participants hatched a plot to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as charity. Wiretaps also record them stating the need to deceive Americans about their true aims.
The secret meeting, held in the 1990s at a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, was called to order by CAIR founding chairman Omar Ahmad. Both he and Awad launched CAIR not long after the meeting.
Mueller acknowledged the wiretap evidence during the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
The Justice Department designated Ahmad and CAIR as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land trial, the largest terror-finance case in U.S. history. A federal jury convicted Holy Land’s leaders on all 108 counts.
Ahmad stepped down from CAIR’s board of directors shortly after his federal designation.
Among other evidence collected by the FBI, the names of both Ahmad and Awad – who remains at CAIR’s helm and regularly appears on Fox News and other media – appear in a secret phone book alongside key Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk, whom the government says directed and coordinated Hamas terrorist attacks on civilians in Israel. Hamas also has murdered more than 17 Americans and has been listed as a U.S.-designated terror group since the 1990s.
During the Holy Land trial, U.S. prosecutors alleged that CAIR’s ties to Hamas are “ongoing.” In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Assistant Director Richard Power suggested Ahmad and Awad remain under federal scrutiny.
Last year, federal prosecutors subpoenaed boxes of internal CAIR records uncovered by the authors of the “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.” The bestselling book exposes the inner workings and finances of CAIR and other front groups for the radical Muslim Brotherhood in America. The Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement based in Egypt and funded by Saudi Arabia, is the parent of both Hamas and al-Qaida.
This month, for the first time, both the Associated Press and Washington Post published stories confirming CAIR’s links to terrorism and its federal designation as an unindicted co-conspirator.
House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said he was dismayed FBI headquarters only recently cut off outreach to CAIR, when its case agents had gathered evidence of the tax-exempt group’s terrorist ties years earlier.
“I’m just surprised that it took the evidence that the FBI had being introduced at trial in order to sever the relationship with CAIR,” Gohmert said.
In a 2009 letter to Mueller, Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested that the ban on CAIR be enforced “government-wide.”