While a Washington, D.C.-based Muslim organization the government classifies as an unindicted terror co-conspirator – and which has, in fact, seen several of its leaders imprisoned on terrorism convictions – scoffed last week at congressional charges it was attempting to plant interns and staffers in key Capitol Hill offices to influence policy, a hot-selling new book documents the controversial group is successfully doing precisely that.

Last Tuesday, four lawmakers held a Capitol Hill press conference demanding three separate federal investigations of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., founder of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus which has over 100 members both Democrat and Republican, was joined by Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., John Shadegg, R-Ariz., and Paul Broun, R-Ga., in calling on the Justice Department to share with Congress findings that caused the FBI to officially sever ties with CAIR. The four also requested that the Capitol’s sergeant at arms determine whether CAIR had infiltrated congressional offices, and that IRS investigate the legality of CAIR’s nonprofit status.

Prompting the congressional demands was the release last week of “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America” by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry. The book is based in part on a daring six-month undercover investigation that resulted in many alarming revelations about the supposedly “moderate” group, backed by 12,000 pages of internal documents.

One document obtained during the investigation, cited by Myrick during the press conference, outlined a CAIR plan to launch an influence operation against members of key congressional committees, while planting CAIR staffers and interns inside congressional offices. Myrick and the others were particularly concerned that the CAIR memo focused especially on judiciary, intelligence, and homeland security committees.

In response, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper laughed, ridiculing the claims of the Congress members and accusing “Muslim Mafia”‘s authors of racism and bigotry. He also claimed he’d received a faxed death threat, which he displayed during televised interviews.

Others leapt to CAIR’s defense, like Rep. John Conyers, Jr., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said, “Numerous Muslim-American interns have served the House ably and they deserve our appreciation and respect, not attacks on their character or patriotism.”

ACLU spokeswoman Amanda Simon said, “Attempting to stigmatize legitimate activities with sinister and baseless accusations is reminiscent of some of the darkest days of our history.”

Even much of the media coverage echoed CAIR’s ridicule of “Muslim Mafia” and the congressional calls for investigation, while portraying the group as a moderate, everyday D.C. lobby group. Politico’s article was so favorable and one-sided, in fact, that CAIR showcased it on its website, along with MSNBC’s mocking, sarcastic attack on “Muslim Mafia” and the four Congress members, whom host Rachel Maddow compared with Sen. Joe McCarthy.

Inexplicably absent from most news reports was any mention of CAIR’s long and sordid history of terror connections, for which reason the FBI broke off ties with the organization last year.

The U.S. government has named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-funding case, a scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas. Federal prosecutors also listed CAIR as a member of the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement that gave rise to Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

But that’s just the beginning. As former FBI agent Mike Rolf acknowledges in “Muslim Mafia,” “CAIR has had a number of people in positions of power within the organization that 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.”

Indeed, 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 disturbing number of 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 director Ghassan Elashi and brothers 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.

    Muthanna al-Hanooti, wearing traditional headgarb

    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 Shiek Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

    “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 last decade 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 fund-raisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

    Siraj Wahhaj
  • 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.

    “Muslim Mafia,” citing co-author’s 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 is the keynote speaker at CAIR’s 15th annual fund-raising banquet in Arlington, Va., this Saturday.

  • 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 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 counterterror 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.

    Last decade, 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 ongoing case.

    Nihad Awad
  • Nihad Awad: Wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR’s executive director at a Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists 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 – 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 shows Hamas fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook listed on the same page with Awad.

    Omar Ahmad
  • 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 Philly 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.

    Mohamed Nimer
  • Mohamed Nimer: CAIR’s current 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 fund-raiser was a founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by Treasury 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.”

    CAIR’s founder Ahmad, while claiming to be a moderate and patriotic American, last decade told a group of Muslims in Northern California that they are in America to help assert Islam’s rule over the country.

    “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” a local reporter quoted him as saying, adding, “The Quran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

    Ahmad insists he was misquoted. However, an FBI wiretap transcript quotes Ahmad agreeing with terrorist suspects gathered last decade at the secret Philly meeting to “camouflage” their true intentions.

    He compared it to the head fake in basketball. “This is like one who plays basketball: He makes a player believe that he is doing this, while he does something else,” Ahmad said. “I agree with you. Like they say, politics is a completion of war.”

    ‘Spies’ on Capitol Hill?

    “The alarm on the Hill isn’t over Muslim staffers but CAIR-sponsored staffers – people who happen to be Muslim who have worked for a front group with proven ties to terrorism,” author Sperry said. “That’s the issue, and CAIR knows it, which is why they’re so desperate to change the subject.”

    The CAIR document
    cited by Myrick and other congressmen, obtained during the “Muslim Mafia” undercover
    investigation, says: “We will focus on influencing congressmen responsible for policy
    that directly impacts the American Muslim community. (For example,
    congressmen on the judiciary, intelligence, and homeland security
    committees.) … We will develop national initiatives such as a lobby
    day and placing Muslim interns in congressional offices.”

    According to “Muslim Mafia,” internal CAIR communications and other documents reveal that CAIR has strategically placed operatives inside the federal offices of Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., among others. Here are some that have been placed in congressional offices between 2006 and 2009:

    Sestak aide Adeeba al-Zaman, for one, booked the congressman to speak at a $50-a-plate CAIR fundraiser in Philadelphia where he praised CAIR and Islam’s supposedly “peaceful” tenets. Sestak, a retired vice admiral, shared the spotlight with another special guest that night in April 2007 at the posh Hilton Philadelphia. As he and his congressional staff looked on, CAIR’s national chairman presented an award to the founder of Bridges TV – Muzzammil Hassan – who recently confessed to murdering his wife by decapitation.

    Before serving as Sestak’s outreach coordinator, al-Zaman was communications director of CAIR’s Philadelphia chapter. Her stepfather serves on the organization’s board and also heads a local mosque, the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge, which is controlled by the Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, according to federal court documents.

    Over at the Senate, CAIR has cultivated Muslim moles inside the offices of key Democrat leaders – including Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on human rights. His aide Reema Dodin – who’s in regular contact with CAIR – is a Palestinian rights activist who organized anti-Israel rallies as a campus radical at UC Berkeley.

    Commenting on the 9/11 attacks as a leader of the radical Muslim Students Association – which was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members – Dodin explained away the suicide attacks as a tragic but inevitable response to U.S. support for Israel, which she says is “angering” Muslims the world over.

    “No one wants to stop and think that these young men, in the prime of their lives, choose to do this to themselves. Why?” she said in an interview with a campus magazine. “Because now you have three generations of Palestinians born under occupation.

    “Maybe if you start to look at Palestinians as human beings,” she added, “you will stop the suicide bombers.”

    Dodin went on to justify violent jihad. “Islam does teach that you must defend yourself,” she said. “You cannot lie down and allow yourself, your home, your property, your family, and your people to be consistently oppressed.”

    At the same time, she condemned U.S. strikes against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, complaining that the military was “just going to hit innocent civilians.”

    Today, Durbin’s legislative aide points to the election of two Muslim congressmen – Democrats Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana – as proof Muslims can penetrate “the system” and bring about change from within.

    All told, there are now upwards of 50 Muslim activists working on Capitol Hill today, according to “Muslim Mafia.” Their growing presence raises alarms, counterintelligence officials say, because a stated goal of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is the infiltration of key government agencies and institutions like Congress.

    Indeed, during a secret Muslim Brotherhood meeting he organized last decade, CAIR founder and former chair Omar Ahmad expressed the need to strengthen “the influence with Congress.” He argued for using Muslims as an “entry point” to “pressure Congress and the decision makers in America” to change U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and other policies.

    The same FBI wiretaps reveal that CAIR’s other founder and current leader, Nihad Awad, early on proposed sponsoring internships and fellowships as a vehicle for infiltrating government “institutions.”

    Until it recently ran out of money, CAIR had been doing exactly that – sponsoring congressional fellowships. In 2007, CAIR budgeted $50,000 for two fellows, according to an internal spreadsheet. It filled at least one of those fellowship positions that year.

    In a 2007 report to Awad, a copy of which was obtained during 2008’s undercover operation, CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor reported that he “placed Samia Elshafie in the office of Representative Jackson-Lee.” Elshafie has acted as the congresswoman’s office contact for human rights issues.

    Saylor, in a recent on-camera Fox News Channel interview, repeatedly refused to condemn the terror groups Hamas or Hezbollah.

    Since the election, Saylor, a white Muslim convert, has worked with Jihad F. Saleh, a top Meeks aide and program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, to promote more Muslims into positions of power. They think the Muslim-friendly 111th Congress and the Obama administration offer fertile ground for planting agents for the cause.

    “The past election was a watershed for the Muslim community,” says Saleh, a black Muslim convert previously known as Benny “B.J.” Williams.

    Saleh, 34, has been busy conducting workshops for “Muslim professionals” to “capitalize” on the change in power and “ensure that Muslim Americans are prominent in the Obama administration.”

    As Larry Shaw, CAIR’s national chairman, said recently: “We look forward to partnering with the Obama administration.”

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