Parvez Ahmed, right, presents CAIR award to Muzzammil Hassan, who recently confessed to murdering his wife by decapitation in what authorities believe was an honor killing based on Islamic law
The former head of a Saudi-funded Muslim group under active terror investigation moved one step closer to appointment to a human-rights commission in Florida – in spite of what critics call his own “checkered” human-rights record.
After nearly two weeks of raucous debate, the Jacksonville City Council rules committee this week voted 4-1 to recommend University of North Florida professor Parvez Ahmed for a seat on the city’s Human Rights Commission.
Ahmed is the former national chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim-rights group recently identified by FBI agents in federal court as a “front” for the terrorist group Hamas and its radical parent the Muslim Brotherhood.
Federal prosecutors say CAIR conspired in a multimillion-dollar scheme to underwrite Hamas terrorists, who have murdered 17 Americans and injured more than 100 U.S. citizens. As a result, the government blacklisted CAIR as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in the case.
The group remains under criminal investigation by the FBI, which has cut off all formal ties to it despite its high political profile. A federal grand jury in Washington is actively hearing evidence against CAIR.
Ahmed’s nomination now goes to the full council for approval.
Only Councilman Clay Yarborough voted against Ahmed.
“I have too much of a reasonable doubt based on the research I’ve done over the last week and a half,” Yarborough said.
Voting in favor of his nomination were council members Art Shad, John Crescimbeni, Denise Lee and Bill Bishop.
The meeting was interrupted by shouting, and police had to escort at least two members of the public out of the building.
Ahmed’s nod to the human-rights panel is opposed by ACT! for America, an anti-Islamist group.
Parvez Ahmed (WOKV-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.)
Randy McDaniel, head of the group’s Jacksonville chapter, observed, “It is surprising that so many people are pushing this individual, and I would ask why.”
McDaniel, who sent a 20-page letter to Jacksonville council members opposing Ahmed’s nomination, asserted that Ahmed has “a checkered past.”
Most recently, Ahmed was criticized for a 2008 speech in which he argued the U.S. government should treat federally designated terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as part of the political process towards peace.
According to the bestselling new book, “Muslim Mafia,” which exposes CAIR and other terrorist front groups, Ahmed huddled with CAIR’s in-house lawyers to consider suing the U.S. and Israel on behalf of Hezbollah, following Israel’s military counterstrikes against Hezbollah terrorist positions in Lebanon in 2006.
Also, during a $50-a-plate CAIR fundraising dinner in 2007, Ahmed presented an award to the founder of Bridges TV – Muzzammil Hassan – who recently confessed to murdering his wife by decapitation, in what authorities believe was an honor killing based on Islamic law, or Shariah. The Islamic legal code is enforced by religious police in Saudi Arabia and by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
At the April 7, 2007, fundraiser held at the Hilton Philadelphia, Ahmed personally handed a plaque to Hassan for his work at Bridges, a Muslim TV network. Hassan had approached Ahmed with “a business plan” to make CAIR a partner in the venture, according to “Muslim Mafia.”
Police last year found the decapitated body of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, lying in a hallway of his TV studio in Buffalo, N.Y. Hassan later confessed to sawing off her head with a knife after she sought divorce in the wake of domestic-battery complaints.
According to the book, Ahmed now insists he didn’t know he would be giving out an award to Hassan until the last minute.
“I found out about the awardees the same time when the audience did,” he claims in a Feb. 21, 2009, message posted on Muslim feminist Zerqa Abid’s blog.
He also says CAIR can’t be expected to fully vet those it honors.
“No organization or business can pry into the private lives of those they associate with,” Ahmed says in his post. “So how can Muslim organizations be held accountable for Muzzammil’s private failings?”
One of CAIR’s Florida branches recently pressured the city of Miami to remove bus ads reaching out to victims of such Islamic family violence.
The ads – which said, “Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you?” – were purchased by Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and associate director of New York–based Stop the Islamization of America.
The South Florida chapter of CAIR had complained the ads promote “bigotry” and insisted “Islam guarantees freedom to and freedom from religion.”
However, CAIR is closely aligned with Saudi Arabia, a religious police state which the State Department has cited as one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights. And the group has received millions of dollars in funding from the kingdom.
In fact, Ahmed has personally solicited money from Saudi officials during fundraising trips to the kingdom, according to “Muslim Mafia,” which cites sensitive State Department cables.
One 2006 communique written by U.S. Embassy staff in Saudi Arabia reported the following after meeting with a CAIR delegation:
“One admitted reason for the group’s current visit to the (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) was to solicit $50 million in governmental and nongovernmental contributions.”
The core delegation, according to the cable, was led by Ahmed, who at the time was CAIR’s chairman.
‘A man of peace’
The vision and purpose of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission is to:
- promote and encourage fair treatment and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital or familial status, pregnancy or ancestry;
- promote mutual understanding and respect among members of all economic, social, racial, religious and ethnic groups;
- eliminate discrimination against and antagonism between religious, racial and ethnic groups.
Yarborough asked Ahmed if he would defend the U.S. Constitution, to which Ahmed replied, “Yes, of course.”
Before council members questioned Ahmed, former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney spoke in favor of the professor’s nomination, calling Ahmed “a man of peace.”
Ahmed said he was thankful for the preliminary approval but surprised his Muslim faith would become a target of opponents in 2010.
“There’s a lot of fear,” Ahmed said. “And that fear is being exploited by people with definite agendas.”
He added: “It’s 2010; Jacksonville should be moving beyond that. People should be judged on their record, and I’m thankful a majority of the rules committee was able to do that.”
It’s not the first time Ahmed has blamed people with outside “agendas” for his woes.
Dismissing the idea that CAIR or its leaders have had anything to do with Hamas, the then–CAIR chairman claimed: “That’s one of those urban legends about CAIR. It’s fed by the right-wing, pro-Israeli blogosphere.”
However, a letter circulating on Capitol Hill affirms federal law enforcement’s belief that CAIR is a leading front for Hamas inside the United States.
Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich sent the letter last month to four members of Congress who asked for details last fall on how CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-finance trial against the Holy Land Foundation – Hamas’s fundraising arm in America – and its former officials.
Weich included trial transcripts and exhibits “which demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders, and the Palestine Committee.”
“Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and Hamas, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995,” the senior Justice Department official said.
The Weich letter indicates the Justice Department has not wavered in its conclusion that the internal records it possesses prove a connection between CAIR and Hamas.
Weich’s letter was requested by U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, and her colleagues in direct response to explosive charges against CAIR leveled in the book “Muslim Mafia.”
“We are very concerned about this relationship in light of claims made in the recently published book ‘Muslim Mafia,'” the lawmakers wrote in their original request to the Justice Department for additional information.
Weich’s letter echoes a letter last spring from an FBI congressional liaison explaining why bureau policy bars outreach activities or any communication with CAIR outside of a criminal investigation.
In that letter, assistant FBI director Richard C. Powers said evidence “demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders (including its current president emeritus and its executive director) and the Palestine Committee.” Other exhibits showed that the Palestine Committee was a fundraising and propaganda arm in the United States for Hamas, which has been a U.S.-designated terrorist organization since 1995.
“[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas,” Powers wrote in his 2009 letter to the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”
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