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Monday, June 04, 2007

CAIR "unindicted co-conspirator" in Hamas funding case

Along with the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust.

At last the truth is coming out about CAIR. Maybe now the mainstream media will stop treating it as a moderate group, although the FBI seems determined to keep its blinkers on.

"Islamic Groups Named in Hamas Funding Case," by Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun, with thanks to Jeffrey Imm:

Federal prosecutors have named three prominent Islamic organizations in America as participants in an alleged criminal conspiracy to support a Palestinian Arab terrorist group, Hamas.

Prosecutors applied the label of "unindicted co-conspirator" to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust in connection with a trial planned in Texas next month for five officials of a defunct charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

While the foundation was charged in the case, which was filed in 2004, none of the other groups was. However, the co-conspirator designation could be a blow to the credibility of the national Islamic organizations, which often work hand-in-hand with government officials engaged in outreach to the Muslim community.

A court filing by the government last week listed the three prominent groups among about 300 individuals or entities named as co-conspirators. The document gave scant details, but prosecutors described CAIR as a present or past member of "the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations." The government listed the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust as "entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood."

The secretary-general of the Islamic Society of North America, Muneer Fareed, said his group was surprised to be named in the Texas case. "I can tell you categorically that the current administration of ISNA, as well as its stakeholders, they have no connection to my knowledge with any Holy Land foundations," he said.

Mr. Fareed denied his group has any ties to Hamas, though he said it is difficult to police all 300 mosques under his umbrella. "We might have a kid whose dad was president of Hamas for all I know," he said. "How do you verify these things?"

Gee, I don't know, Fareed. Maybe ask members if they have any ties to Hamas, and make it clear that such ties are unacceptable?

The Islamic official expressed frustration at the lack of detail in the prosecution's filing. "Perhaps there's some evidence. I just don't really know what it is," he said.

Spokesmen for CAIR did not respond to messages seeking comment yesterday. Efforts to contact the North American Islamic Trust were unsuccessful.

The identification of the alleged co-conspirators could aid prosecutors when the Holy Land Foundation and five of its officials, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulraham Odeh, go to trial on July 16 in Dallas. Statements by and about co-conspirators are exempt from rules barring hearsay....

The inclusion of the Islamic groups on the list of alleged conspirators could give ammunition to critics of the organizations. CAIR, in particular, has faced persistent claims that it is soft on terrorism. Critics note that several former CAIR officials have been convicted or deported after being charged with fraud, embargo violations, or aiding terrorist training. Spokesmen for the group have also raised eyebrows for offering generic denunciations of terrorism but refusing to condemn by name specific Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah.

In addition, one of the Holy Land Foundation defendants, Ghassan Elashi, founded CAIR's Texas chapter. CAIR's Washington office was also set up in 1994 with $5,000 in seed money from the foundation, according to congressional testimony by a researcher into Islamic extremism, Steven Emerson.

Last year, Senator Boxer of California, a Democrat, withdrew an award she gave to an official at a local CAIR chapter. She said she had concerns about statements by some CAIR officials and about claims of financial links to terrorism. Many FBI officials meet regularly with CAIR representatives and clerics from the Islamic Society of North America.

A New York Times article published in March said unidentified government officials believed that the criticism of CAIR was unwarranted. A former FBI official, Michael Rolince, said yesterday that the co-conspirator designation might prompt CAIR to be more direct in denouncing terrorism but was no reason to cut off all contact with the group.

"People could say the same thing about the FBI. They're not all choirboys," he said. "We don't go into this with blinders on."

Are you sure of that, Rolince? Are you saying that the FBI could be called an unindicted co-conspirator with a jihad terrorist organization? Are you saying that it's wise for the FBI to collaborate with a group that engages in cooperative efforts with groups that have called for death to America? Sure, we're not all choirboys. But we're not all dupes or tools of the enemy, either.

Posted by Robert at June 4, 2007 9:05 AM

June 4, 2007


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