WASHINGTON – It was a sellout crowd at the Council of American-Islamic Relations' 19th annual fundraising banquet this weekend at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va.
And one of the featured attractions was a notorious imam who has variously supported stoning or jailing apostates of Islam, the arming of American Muslims and turning the U.S. into an Islamic state governed by Saudi-style Shariah law.
Siraj Wahhaj is also one of the unindicted co-conspirators of the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.
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"He has a message of Islam reigning supreme, and mixed with his message is the fact of the U.S. being an evil country, and defending terrorism," said Steven Emerson, a former CNN newsman who now heads the Investigative Project on Terrorism, one of the world's largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
Wahhaj, a witness for blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, is infamous for statements like this: "In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam. If Allah says stone them to death, through the Prophet Muhammad, then you stone them to death, because it's the obedience of Allah and his messenger – nothing personal."
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Wahhaj has served as a board member of CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group and itself an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing case in American history.
Wahhaj was also the first Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991.
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"On that occasion he recited from the Quran and appealed to the Almighty to guide American leaders," wrote Daniel Pipes, another expert on Islam. "A little over a year later, addressing an audience of New Jersey Muslims, the same Wahhaj articulated a rather different vision from his mild and moderate invocation in the House. If only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate."
Wahhaj told the audience: "If we were united and strong, we'd elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him. … [T]ake my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us."
He added later in his talk: "I see the demise of the Soviet Union as a sign for the American people that what happened in the Soviet Union will definitely happen in America unless America changes its course from the new world order and accepts the Islamic agenda."
On a religion blog, he was quoted as telling his followers that a society governed by strict Islamic law, where adulterers would be stoned to death and thieves would have their hands cut off, would be superior to American democracy.
Wahhaj has also labeled FBI and CIA agents "real terrorists," according to a report by the New York Post.
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"In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam," Wahhaj said in a sermon.
As WND reported, Wahhaj – who is on record urging a violent overthrow of the "filthy" U.S. government, assisted by jihad warriors armed with Uzis – also gave a fundraising appeal for CAIR at its 15th annual banquet.
The New York City-based Clarion Fund points out Wahhaj was featured on a panel in 2005 titled, "Replacing the Constitution with the Koran: 'Conquest or Conversion' through Islamic Propagation."
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As WND reported, Wahhaj, a regular CAIR fundraiser and a former member of its advisory board, is just one of many Muslim leaders affiliated with the group who have been named or prosecuted in U.S. terrorism-related investigations.
"Muslim Mafia" cites internal documents that show Wahhaj remains heavily involved in CAIR business. At last year's CAIR banquet, Wahhaj led the fundraising, bringing in $210,000 by the end of the night. In 2006, CAIR's national office enlisted him to work with the group's leadership to raise $1 million.
In a videotaped May 8, 1992, sermon obtained by the authors of "Muslim Mafia," titled "Stand up for Justice," Wahhaj makes it clear that, contrary to CAIR's media guide, he believes jihad means "holy war," not merely a "struggle to better oneself."
"If we go to war, brothers and sisters – and one day we will, believe me – that's why you're commanded [to fight in] jihad," the Brooklyn-based Wahhaj says. "When Allah demands us to fight, we're not stopping and nobody's stopping us."
Wahhaj preaches Islam teaches violent insurrection in "infidel lands" such as America, point out "Muslim Mafia" co-authors, counterterrorism investigator P. David Gaubatz and "Infiltration" author Paul Sperry.
"Believe me, brothers and sisters, Muslims in America are the most strategic Muslims on Earth," Wahhaj says in the 1992 sermon, arguing the government can't drop bombs on warring Muslims in the U.S. without causing collateral damage.
The American government's "worst nightmare is one day that the Muslims wake these people up in South Central Los Angeles and other inner-city areas," he says in the video.
Wahhaj exhorts the faithful to go into the "hood and the prisons and convert disenfranchised minorities, and then arm them and train them to carry out an Uzi jihad in the inner cities."
"We don't need to arm the people with nine-millimeter and Uzis," he says. "You need to arm them with righteousness first. And then once you arm them with righteousness first, then you can arm them [with Uzis and other weapons]."
CAIR tells the public in its media guide, however, "There is a common misperception among Westerners that the Quran teaches violence."
"We don't have a 'turn-the-other-cheek philosophy' like the Christians," Wahhaj says. "Allah has given us permission to fight them" so that the "word of Allah can be uppermost."
As former FBI agent Mike Rolf acknowledges in the book "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."
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:
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.
"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.
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.
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."
IMPORTANT NOTE: The CAIR legal attack on WND's author is far from over. WND needs your help in supporting the defense of "Muslim Mafia" co-author P. David Gaubatz, as well as his investigator son Chris, against CAIR's lawsuit. The book's revelations have led to formal congressional demands for three different federal investigations of CAIR. In the meantime, however, someone has to defend these two courageous investigators who have, at great personal risk, revealed so much about this dangerous group. Although WND has procured the best First Amendment attorneys in the country for their defense, we can't do it without your help. Muslims 'draw line in the sand' in D.C.