From the Hamas ties of its founders in 1994 to its solicitous stance toward accused terrorists today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has demonstrated that its actual mission is far removed from the civil rights advocacy it claims to pursue.
Still standing as perhaps the clearest evidence of CAIR's insidious role, two key leaders of the group attended a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia called by Hamas members and supporters to devise a strategy for torpedoing the Oslo Accords aimed at Middle East peace.
An analysis of secret recordings of the meeting led the FBI to conclude that the gathering was held "to determine… [the participants'] course of action in support of Hamas' opposition to the [Oslo] peace plan and to decide how to conceal their activities from the scrutiny of the United States government."
Coupled with their support for the jihad in the Middle East, the attendees recognized the critical importance of domestic lobbying in the United States. One discussed encouraging the Islamic community "to be involved in the political life of this country," adding, "We should assist them in this task. This will be an entrance for us to put, through the Islamic community, pressure on the Congress and the decision makers in America."
That's where CAIR came in. Participants in that 1993 meeting discussed tailoring their message to an American audience, speaking of outright deception at times and of softening their rhetoric at others, as the following exchange between CAIR founders Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad shows:
Awad: What is important is that the language of the address is there even
for the American. But, the issue is how to use it.
Omar Ahmad: There is a difference between you saying "I want to restore the '48
land" and when you say "I want to destroy Israel".
Awad: Yes, there are different but parallel types of address. There
shouldn't be contradiction. Address people according to their minds.
When I speak with the American, I speak with someone who doesn't know
anything. As for the Palestinian who has a martyr brother or something, I know how to address him, you see?
This context helps explain why federal authorities have tied the CAIR to Hamas in three separate court filings in the past year. Prosecutors place CAIR on the Muslim Brotherhood's "Palestine Committee." An internal Palestine Committee document in 1994 lists CAIR as one of its "working organizations" along with IAP. Other records show that committee was created to advance the Hamas agenda within the United States.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism has assembled a thorough dossier on CAIR's origins and activities which we present in installments during the next two weeks. You can read today's segment here.
Among the highlights in today's report:
• CAIR was incorporated less than a year after the Philadelphia meeting by three officials of the now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), long a central player in Hamas' U.S. support network and a group that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service deemed in a 2001 memo to be "part of Hamas' propaganda apparatus."
• As recently as the summer of 2007, the Dallas trial charging the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) with providing material support for Hamas produced extensive evidence that IAP -- CAIR's parent -- played a central role in the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee. Much of that evidence relates to Mousa Abu Marzook, now deputy political chief of Hamas, who served on the board of directors of IAP in 1989.
The trial exhibits included a memo taken from the home of Ismail Elbarrasse, a former assistant to Marzook, which defines in chilling fashion the role the Muslim Brothers play in North America:
The process of settlement is a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack….
• CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial. While the group contested that designation in court papers, it may have to live with it through a second trial scheduled for August. A mistrial was declared Oct. 22 after jurors could not reach unanimous verdicts on HLF and four individual defendants. A fifth defendant was acquitted on all but one count against him, that of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
• IAP clearly subscribed to a Jihadist view of what was needed in the Middle East. The December 1988 edition of Ila Filastin, the group's Arabic-language publication, carried this statement: "The call for Jihad in the name of Allah is the only path for liberation of Palestine and all the Muslim lands … We (Hamas) promise Allah, in continuing the Jihad way and with the martyrdom's way."
Meanwhile, IAP's English-language Muslim World Monitor and Arabic periodical Al-Zaitounah, frequently praised Hamas terror attacks. An October 1994 Al-Zaitounah headline, for example, blared, "In Its Greatest Operation, Hamas Takes Credit for the Bombing of an Israeli Bus in the Center of Tel Aviv."
• IAP promoted the Hamas agenda at its annual conferences, with members of the terrorist group making frequent appearances. It raised substantial funds at these conferences for HLF, then Hamas' primary fundraising arm in the United States. All proceeds from IAP's convention in 1996, for example, went to HLF. Rafeeq Jaber, one of CAIR's founders, had become IAP president earlier that year. In a 2003 civil deposition, Jaber acknowledged IAP's contract with HLF required them "to promote [HLF] in every way we can."
• Declining an opportunity to distance CAIR from IAP in September 2003 Senate testimony, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad opted instead to defend the group as "a grassroots organization which continues to function legally and has only been ‘linked' through allusion and no charge of criminality has been brought against the organization."
• It was Awad and CAIR founding chairman Omar Ahmad who had attended the Hamas-organized Philadelphia session in 1993 -- though proof of their participation was not revealed publicly until years later. Both men insisted, as late as 2003, that they could not recall having attended.