Despite pressure tactics, threats and even a $15,000 cash bribe from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to shut down a recent counter-terrorism training program for Virginia law enforcement, the training took place as scheduled, albeit with extra security.
It was one of the rare times government officials have not backed down under the group’s pressure tactics.
Washington-based CAIR, an Islamic lobbying group shunned by the FBI due to its ties to terrorist groups, launched a weeks-long campaign to intimidate Culpepper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins into canceling the three-day program, titled “Understanding and Investigating Jihadi Networks in America.”
But Jenkins was not deterred, even after agreeing to meet with CAIR officials.
The lead trainer, former special FBI agent John Guandolo, presented some 50 Virginia law enforcement officers with evidence of the radical Muslim Brotherhood’s operations in the U.S. and their jihadi support network, along with a large amount of evidence demonstrating CAIR was created and continues to be an entity of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group. Former U.S. prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, former Pentagon inspector general Joseph Schmitz and former CIA case officer Clare Lopez also spoke at the seminar.
Now a counter-terrorism and homeland security consultant, Guandolo detailed for officers who attended the Feb. 25-27 seminar how this dangerous Islamic network in America radicalizes, trains and logistically supports jihadi operations in the United States and those launched from the U.S. against overseas targets.
He says CAIR, which is part of that network, was so worried about the training that it sent officials to Culpepper to lobby the sheriff to cancel the program, even offering together with a local mosque to pay for the program’s fees and related expenses.
“They were so bent on making sure this training did not take place that they offered to pay Sheriff Jenkins the entire cost of the training – including travel (expenses) – to keep it from happening,” Guandolo said.
CAIR declined comment.
But CAIR official Corey Saylor told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star that he was upset the event got the go-ahead. Saylor, a Muslim convert, said he was “disappointed with the sheriff’s refusal to cancel the training sessions.”
At the same time, CAIR sent letters to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice and the Rappahannock Regional Justice Academy requesting that officers attending the seminars not be granted the 24 hours of recertification credits the seminars now carry.
Before the event, CAIR put out an “action alert” calling on Muslim-Americans to contact the sheriff’s office to protest the training session. The group claimed Guandolo, whom it described as an “Islamophobe,” was trying to shut down mosques and prevent Muslims from exercising their right to practice their religion. CAIR did not support the claim with any documentation.
Guandolo says it’s a typical “smear tactic” of CAIR.
“Apparently Mr. Saylor is unaware the Department of Justice lists CAIR as a member of Hamas in America” and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, he said.
In a December 2007 government filing in the U.S. vs. Sabri Benkhala terror case, the Justice Department stated: “From its founding by the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists.”
In fact, according to the veteran FBI agent, the Justice Department has enough incriminating evidence to file terrorism charges against CAIR and its founders.
“There is enough evidence to indict CAIR, but the government chose not to do so at this time,” said Guandolo, author of “Raising a Jihadi Generation: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in America.”
He suggests the government balked at throwing the book at CAIR for political reasons.
CAIR has cultivated a number of political supporters, mainly among leading Democrats in Washington, including senior White House officials. Secret Service entry logs show CAIR officials have visited the White House several times during the Obama administration.
Despite its designation as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in 2007, the Muslim pressure group in recent years has successfully lobbied for changes in federal policies dealing with the war on terror. For example, CAIR took credit for helping persuade Attorney General Eric Holder to prohibit religious profiling in terror cases, a decision his department is expected to soon formally announce. It also played a key role in the Pentagon’s recent decision to change long-standing uniform rules to allow military personnel to wear Islamic beards and head coverings.
Moreover, a controversial new rule issued earlier this month by the departments of State and Homeland Security to relax U.S. immigration for Palestinian and other foreign “refugees” who have provided “limited” material support to terrorists is also an outgrowth of CAIR lobbying.
Under the Bush administration, Justice implicated CAIR in a criminal conspiracy to raise money for Hamas.
CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007-2008 Holy Land Foundation case. He and CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad remain under FBI investigation, senior FBI officials have confirmed in letters to Congress. Until their ties to Hamas are resolved, the FBI says it will not formally recognize CAIR as a Muslim outreach partner or meet with CAIR officials. The FBI has effectively banned CAIR pending the outcome of the probe.
Starting in the fall of 2008, Guandolo said the FBI “cut off all ties with CAIR because of their ties to Hamas.”
He explained that CAIR was created in 1994 by the U.S. branch of Hamas, known as the “Palestine Committee,” to function as the “political arm” of the Palestinian terrorist group. A year before founding the front group, Ahmad and Awad attended a secret meeting with “senior leaders of Hamas” at a Philadelphia hotel bugged by the FBI. An internal FBI memo written by the former head of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division describes “all attendees” of the meeting – including Ahmad and Awad – as “Hamas members.”
“CAIR was the fourth organization created by Hamas to recruit jihadis, raise money and gain media favor for Hamas in America,” Guandolo said, adding that phone books, organizational charts, secret manifestos written in Arabic and other documents the FBI seized after 9/11 indicate Awad and Ahmad were in leadership positions in the U.S. Palestine Committee prior to the creation of CAIR.
“CAIR is Hamas,” Guandolo flatly stated.