A former Council on American-Islamic Relations official will serve more than a year in federal prison for violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq, according to a Justice Department spokesman.
The FBI in 2008 charged Muthanna al-Hanooti with conspiring to work for a foreign government and with making false statements to FBI agents. On Friday, the former CAIR regional director was sentenced to serve one year and one day in a U.S. prison during a federal court hearing in Detroit. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 46 months.
Al-Hanooti's home was raided by FBI agents, who also searched the offices of his front group, Focus on Advocacy and Advancement of International Relations, which al-Hanooti operated out of Dearborn, Mich., and Washington, D.C. FAAIR claims to be a consulting firm raising awareness of Sunni Muslim grievances in Iraq, but investigators say it's a front that supported the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq.
Al-Hanooti, a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated 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 the investigation. In 2004, LIFE's Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers, according to the book, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America."
Al-Hanooti, 51, headed CAIR's Michigan office after working briefly for CAIR National in Washington, the book also reveals; and he is related to Sheik Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The sheik currently leads prayers at a Washington-area mosque that aided some of the 9/11 hijackers and is closely affiliated with CAIR.
The FBI alleges Mohammed al-Hanooti, an ethnic-Palestinian who also emigrated from Iraq, raised money for Hamas. In fact, "al-Hanooti collected over $6 million for support of Hamas," according to a 2001 FBI report, and was present with CAIR and Holy Land Foundation officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held last decade at a Philadelphia hotel.
Prosecutors recently added the sheik's name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
At trial, FBI agents testified that Washington-based CAIR operates as a front for Hamas, and prosecutors added it to the Justice Department's list of co-conspirators. The FBI has since cut off ties to CAIR. And last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress that the bureau continues to have concerns about the organization's "national leadership" and its association with terrorist groups.
CAIR's growing rap sheet
Since 9/11, no fewer than 15 CAIR executives, staffers, directors and advisers have been convicted or implicated in terrorism investigations, including:
Ismail Royer: Formerly CAIR National's civil-rights coordinator, Royer was ringleader of a terrorist group known as the Virginia Jihad Network that studied manuals on making explosives and chemical weapons. Among other targets, they cased FBI headquarters, according to the Justice Department indictment.
Royer's terrorist cell also chauffeured fugitive al-Qaida cleric Anwar Awlaki around Washington as he looked for new recruits, court records show. Prosecutors found Awlaki's phone number stored on their cell phones.
Royer trained overseas with the Pakistan-based terror group behind the Mumbai massacre. While on CAIR's payroll, he directed other members of his cell to follow in his footsteps. They all desired to kill U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.
Royer is now serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to lesser gun and explosives charges in exchange for his cooperation in the ongoing terror investigation.
But he hasn't cooperated as promised. In fact, prosecutors recently filed court papers branding him an "inveterate liar" who "simply has no credibility."
Still, CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper has been working with defense lawyers and Royer's family on an appeals case for his former protege, according to "Muslim Mafia."
Laura Jaghlit: Another civil-rights coordinator for CAIR, her Washington-area home was raided by federal agents after 9/11 as part of a terror-financing probe. Her husband Mohammed recently landed on the government's list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land scheme to funnel more than $12 million to Hamas terrorists.
Abdurahman Alamoudi: Another CAIR director, he's serving 23 years for plotting terrorism. According to the Treasury Department, Alamoudi was one of al-Qaida's top fund-raisers in America, and was caught on tape complaining that Osama bin Laden hadn't killed enough Americans in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa.
Nihad Awad: For the first time, wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR's top executive at the notorious 1993 Hamas summit in Philadelphia. And his name appears alongside major Hamas leaders in a phone tree uncovered by investigators. Assistant FBI Director Richard Powers has named the executive director as one of the CAIR leaders under federal scrutiny.
Omar Ahmad: U.S. prosecutors named CAIR's founding chairman as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. Ahmad helped arrange and lead the Hamas meeting in Philadelphia. Court exhibits show he not only picked the location for the secret meeting, but also invited the participants and called their meeting to order.
Two years earlier, Ahmad had met with the notorious Blind Sheik, hosting the now-convicted al-Qaida terrorist in Ahmad's Santa Clara, Calif., apartment, according to "Muslim Mafia."
Nabil Sadoun: A current CAIR National board member, he previously worked for the United Association for Studies and Research, or UASR - a known Hamas front in America founded by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.
Mohamed Nimer: CAIR's longtime research director also served as a researcher and board director for UASR.
(Nimer's and Sadoun's roles at UASR are omitted from their CAIR bios posted on CAIR's website.)
Rafeeq Jaber: A founding board director and vice president of CAIR, Jaber was the longtime president of the Islamic Association for Palestine, which a federal judge in 2002 ruled "has acted in support of Hamas."
Rabih Haddad: This CAIR fundraiser was one of the founders of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by Treasury for financing al-Qaida. He was arrested on terror-related charges and deported to Lebanon in 2003.
Mohammed el-Mezain: The recently convicted Holy Land Foundation chairman also conducted fundraising for CAIR. Convicted of providing material support to terrorists, El-Mezain in 2009 was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. He is a close friend of al-Qaida leader Awlaki.
Siraj Wahhaj: The longtime CAIR board member and top fundraiser was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombing.
Bassem el-Khafagi: Another CAIR official, Khafagi was arrested in 2003 while serving as CAIR's director of community affairs on charges connected to a federal terror probe of his leadership role in the al-Qaida front, Islamic Assembly of North America. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and deported to his native Egypt.
Hamza Yusef: After 9/11, the FBI investigated this member of CAIR's board of advisers because just two days before the attacks, he made an ominous prediction to a Muslim audience in California:
"This country is facing a terrible fate and the reason for that is because this country stands condemned," he 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."
Ghassan Elashi: A founding director of CAIR's Texas chapter, he was convicted in 2008 of providing material support to terrorists in the Holy Land trial. Elashi also attended the secret 1993 Hamas meeting with CAIR's co-founders.
A tax-exempt nonprofit, CAIR claims to be a benign "civil-rights advocacy organization" that condemns terrorism.