By Jack Minor
Parents in a Florida school district say their fight is not ending over district officials’ decision to openly promote a representative from the local Council on American-Islamic Relations group, whose national organization has ties to terrorism, to speak to their students and then refuse to listen to parental concerns.
It was this week during a meeting of the Tampa school board that several members appeared dismissive of citizens’ concerns. Member Doretha Edgecomb said she didn’t even want to look at the concerns.
“It’s Islam today and the NAACP tomorrow,” she said.
A motion at the meeting to schedule a workshop on the issue failed, getting only two of the four votes it needed.
But Terry Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council, told WND the board is mistaken if members think a vote will make the concerns vanish.
“Each meeting has had more [concerns raised] than the one before. We are going to continue to make people aware of this and pack out every public meeting until the board listens to the concerns of parents in this district,” Kemple said.
He went on to say that if the board does not listen to residents, they will ultimately be replaced with board members who will.
He and other residents and parents had gone to a meeting of the Hillsborough County school board in Tampa after learning that the district had allowed Hassan Shibley, executive director for CAIR-Tampa, to speak at more than a dozen Advanced Placement World History and World Religions classes last fall. The meeting was the second one in a row where residents have attempted to have their concerns addressed.
Shibley said the topics discussed at Steinbrenner High School included basic Muslim beliefs, Islamic history, Islam and human rights, religious tolerance and diversity, and popular misconceptions about Islam. He also talked to the student about “Islamophobia.”
Shibley is a local imam and said although he had joined CAIR last June, he had been speaking about Islam at the school for years including when he was a student in the district. In December, upon learning the district was allowing a member of CAIR to speak to students, area residents became concerned.
Kemple told the board that members of the community had no objection to teaching about Islam, however their issue had to do with allowing a member of a terrorist-affiliated organization talk about any subject in area schools. The group even recommended other Muslim speakers that would be qualified to speak on the Muslim history and other topics.
“We made it plain from the beginning the issue had nothing to do with Islam or even the subject matter that was taught,” Kemple said. “We just don’t believe the district should allow a group with ties to terrorism to speak to our children.”
Kemple is referring to the Holy Land Foundation case, the largest terrorism funding trial in American history. CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America and other Muslim organizations were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the case.
The Holy Land Foundation was once the largest Muslim charity organization in the United States. HLF was under investigation for years before finally being closed down by the Bush administration after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
In December, a judge upheld the convictions in the case including Ghassan Elashi, founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter. Elashi received a 65-year prison sentence for funneling over $12 million from the Islamic charity known as the Holy Land Foundation to the jihad terrorist group Hamas.
Kemple said members of the community were not asking the board to make a decision that night to exclude CAIR officials from teaching about Islam, but were simply asking the board to hold a public workshop where the board could hear from both sides of the issue and craft a policy that would prevent groups with terrorist ties from speaking in the classrooms.
He said they wanted the board to hear from “experts” from both CAIR and the CIC on issues relating to FBI investigations of CAIR officials and other concerns about the group’s terrorist affiliations.
Shibley told WND that while he would not have a problem with another speaker coming in, he does not believe that would resolve the issue, insisting the issue is about Islam itself.
“The reason CAIR is a target is because we are the leader in fighting for civil rights and fighting pre-conceptions about Islam. Even if they had brought in another speaker there would still be issues,” Shibley said. “Anytime a Muslim organization gets strong it is attacked and we would be cutting off the head of our most effective organization” if CAIR agreed to stop speaking to the students.
Shibley attempted to defend the terrorist allegations saying the judge’s ruling applied to the national organization and not CAIR-Tampa. He went on say the indictment actually meant very little because it is easy for prosecutors to obtain them. “My law professor said you can indict a cat. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
Robert Spencer, founder of JihadWatch said Shibley was being disingenuous with his attempts to explain away the terrorist connection.
“His group has the name CAIR in its title, if he doesn’t want to be associated with the name CAIR he should remove it from his local organization. Regardless of the legal standing, the fact is CAIR-Tampa shares the same outlooks and beliefs as CAIR national,” Spencer said. “Whether they are a separate corporate entity is completely irrelevant. They have the same name and they share the same goals.”
Spencer said, “I’ve never been indicted and there is a lengthy list of CAIR officials who have been indicted and convicted for terrorism related offenses.”
Rogues gallery of terror-tied CAIR leaders
WND previously has reported on a number of people in positions of power with CAIR who have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country. According to another FBI veteran familiar with recent and ongoing cases involving CAIR officials, “Their offices have been a turnstile for terrorists and their supporters.”
A review of the public record, including federal criminal court documents, past IRS 990 tax records and Federal Election Commission records detailing donor occupations, reveals that CAIR has been associated with a convicted terrorists or felons in terrorism probes, as well as suspected terrorists and active targets of terrorism investigations. The list is long and includes:
FBI agents arresting CAIR founding director Ghassan Elashi in 2002.
- 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 was also convicted of providing material support to Hamas in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial. He was chairman of the charity, which provided seed capital to CAIR. Elashi is related to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.
- Muthanna al-Hanooti: The CAIR director’s home was raided in 2006 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.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 in September 2006. In 2004, LIFE’s Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers. Al-Hanooti is related to Sheik Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Muthanna al-Hanooti, wearing traditional headgarb
“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 in 1993 at a Philadelphia hotel. Prosecutors added his name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
Although Al-Hanooti denies supporting Hamas, he has praised Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs” who are “alive in the eyes of Allah.”
- Abdurahman Alamoudi: Another CAIR director, he is serving 23 years in federal prison for plotting terrorism. Alamoudi, who was caught on tape complaining that bin Laden hadn’t killed enough Americans in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, was one of al-Qaida’s top fundraisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- 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.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
“Muslim Mafia,” citing co-author Paul Sperry’s previous book “Infiltration” as well as terror expert Steven Emerson’s research, reports that Wahhaj, a black convert to Islam, is converting gang members to Islam and holding “jihad camps” for them. With a combination of Islam and Uzis, he has said, the street thugs will be a powerful force for Islam the day America “will crumble.”
Wahhaj was a key speaker at CAIR’s 15th annual fund-raising banquet in Arlington, Va., in 2009.
- 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 George W. 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 counter-terror 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.
- 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.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 case.
- Nihad Awad: Wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR’s executive director at the Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists in 1993 that was secretly recorded by the FBI. Participants 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. (An April 28, 2009, letter from FBI assistant director Richard C. Powers to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. – which singles out CAIR chief Awad for suspicion – explains how the group’s many Hamas connections caused the FBI to sever ties with CAIR.)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 showed 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 Philadelphia 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 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. UPDATE: In 2010, Sadoun was ordered deported to his native Jordan. An immigration judge referenced Sadoun’s relationship with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation during a deportation hearing.
- Mohamed Nimer: CAIR’s research director also served as a board director for UASR, the strategic arm for Hamas in the U.S. 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 fundraiser was a founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by the Treasury Department 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.
- 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.”
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