Victims of an apparent fraud perpetrated by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations say they are so happy with a settlement that they want the terms, which usually are confidential, released to the public.
CAIR, however, is unlikely to agree, according to lawyers who announced the resolution of the decade-long case on Tuesday.
The American Freedom Law Center said CAIR agreed to settle a case that was begun 11 years ago in federal court in Washington.
It was brought on behalf of victims of a “fraud perpetrated by a CAIR lawyer, Morris Days,” the organization said.
The case alleged that Days falsely claimed to be an attorney and mishandled victims’ cases, and that CAIR knew about the fraud and conspired to hide it from the victims.
CAIR describes itself as a Muslim civil-rights group, but the FBI determined in a terrorist-funding case in which top CAIR officials were named that it was founded as a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group. The FBI consequently cut off its outreach activities with the national organization. More than a dozen CAIR leaders have been charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes.
AFLC said CAIR’s decision to finally settle the case came only after two adverse court decisions.
“The first decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed an earlier dismissal of the lawsuit brought by AFLC co-founders and senior counsel David Yerushalmi and Robert J. Muise. The Court of Appeals’ decision, the second appeal in this long-standing case that had included allegations of criminal racketeering by CAIR, mandated that the federal district court permit the case to go to a jury trial, set for September 2019.
“The second court decision was by the trial court which refused to dismiss the consumer fraud statute count, which meant that AFLC’s clients would receive attorney’s fees irrespective of the amount the jury awarded as long as the jury found CAIR liable. Given the aggressively fought litigation over the past decade, CAIR was looking at a possible judgment approaching one million dollars just for attorney’s fees.”
AFLC said it was during mediation held in the U.S. District Court in D.C. by U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey in May that CAIR agreed to a settlement.
As is often the case, the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement are confidential. But the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, David Yerushalmi, said: “Our clients are extremely happy with the settlement and, in fact, they are so happy, they have authorized me to declare publicly that they have no problem disclosing all of the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement if CAIR agrees. It is unlikely CAIR would agree, of course, because it is unlikely CAIR wants the public to learn the terms of the settlement.”
Yerushalmi continued: “During discovery, we exposed CAIR’s massive fraud and then concerted cover-up that included CAIR assuring its victim-clients that it would address their immigration legal problems. In fact, our former client who is still a plaintiff in this litigation was deported, but only after CAIR had assured him that he would be granted legal status through an asylum program that he otherwise qualified for. But for the CAIR fraud, our former client would still be in the U.S. Unfortunately, now he is in parts unknown, and as a result, we could no longer represent him in this litigation. While his claim against CAIR remains, it will likely be dismissed unless he shows up and makes an appearance.”
AFLC started the case after CAIR hired for its Virginia offices Morris Days, who allegedly defrauded dozens if not hundreds of CAIR clients.
“Once the fraud began to unravel, CAIR engaged in a massive cover-up, closing down the Virginia offices, firing the lawyer, and claiming to the CAIR victims that Days was not actually a CAIR lawyer. As alleged, CAIR knew of this fraud and purposefully conspired with Days to keep the CAIR clients from discovering that their legal matters were being mishandled or not handled at all,” the organization said.
“CAIR engaged in a massive criminal fraud in which literally hundreds of CAIR clients have been victimized. In the recent court rulings, the federal courts in our nation’s capital have spoken clearly: CAIR was facing a jury trial for all of its fraudulent behavior and even a nominal judgment would have required CAIR to pay all of our clients’ legal fees accumulated over the past decade,” Muise explained. “Justice might be slow and circuitous, but it finally came knocking at CAIR’s door for its due. CAIR had no realistic choice but to settle. Our clients are satisfied. They obtained a just result.”
The Middle East Forum, which had contributed to the support of the lawsuit, said it was its second big legal victory over CAIR in 2019.
The organization earlier participated in a case that removed CAIR from the San Diego Unified School District.
“That CAIR settled when accused of fraud and conspiracy confirms the ugly nature of this organization,” noted Forum President Daniel Pipes. “As a 2006 lawsuit already established, it is a terrorist-supporting front organization that seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States and the installation of an Islamic theocracy.”
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 the following:
Ghassan Elashi: One of CAIR’s founding directors, he was convicted in 2004 of illegally shipping high-tech goods to terror state Syria and was given 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 was given 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 was given 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, also was a target of the 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.