The FBI severs its relationship with a group due to its ties to Hamas. Though it touts itself as "America's largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group," an FBI agent has testified that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Hamas front.
A ranking member of Congress asks the Bureau for more information. He viewed the response he got back as incomplete and he pointedly asks the FBI to try again, mentioning his role on a congressional committee responsible for FBI budgets.
CAIR - frozen out by the FBI since last summer - issued a statement Thursday, accusing the congressman, Virginia Republican Frank Wolf, of having "abused his power." His hard line, the statement says, is an act out of vengeance because CAIR has disagreed with some of Wolf's policies and statements.
Wolf is in his 15th term and has been re-elected easily. CAIR's disagreements with him have done little to slow his work. But the statement still tries to deflect attention from bad news for CAIR about the FBI cut-off first reported in late January by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Evidence from the Hamas-support trial of five former officials at the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) show CAIR and two of its founders were part of a Muslim Brotherhood-created support network in America. CAIR founder and current executive director Nihad Awad is listed on a telephone list of "Palestine Committee" members, along with CAIR chairman emeritus Omar Ahmad and Hamas Deputy Political Director Mousa Abu Marzook.
Other records show Awad participated in a secret 1993 meeting of Hamas members and supporters called to discuss ways to "derail" the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords, which then offered hope for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If CAIR wants to regain its access, the FBI has said "certain issues must be addressed to the satisfaction of the FBI." In a letter to the FBI, Wolf sought details about those "certain issues" and asked what conditions might prompt the FBI to reverse its stance. The four-paragraph response from FBI spokesman John Miller did not address those questions, prompting a harsh rebuke.
The questions about CAIR are not plucked from thin air, but from exhibits in a terror-financing trial that ended with convictions on 108 counts. The FBI case agent called CAIR a front organization. But CAIR ignores all of this, with Awad choosing instead to attack the messenger:
"It appears that Congressman Wolf is seeking payback for all the times CAIR and American Muslims have challenged his political positions using their constitutionally-protected right to petition elected representatives. It is unfortunate that Wolf has abused his office to pressure a government agency to target those he obviously views as political opponents. Public office should be used to serve the people, not to pursue personal vendettas."
This is classic CAIR. Read Wolf's letter back to the FBI here. He asks a series of questions about a policy the FBI has acknowledged. There is absolutely no pejorative reference about CAIR or any of its officials. Since when is a member of Congress' attempt to learn about a policy decision a personal vendetta?
By attacking Wolf, Awad and his organization hope to avoid the difficult questions about their roots and true agenda. Similarly, the statement labels the IPT report "smears against CAIR by Internet Muslim-bashers like Steven Emerson."
Now take a look at Awad's own words over the years.
· During the secret meeting on Oslo, Awad gave a presentation about how to sell opposition to the peace deal to Americans without seeming to support terrorists. The following exchange, captured by FBI wiretaps, shows Awad in agreement with his colleagues' assessment that the peace deal was both invalid and inappropriate:
Unidentified Speaker: There is no one jurisprudent who says this peace treaty is legal at all because peace must be between Muslims and infidels and there isn't one person among those who prays.
Omar Ahmad: It is between infidels and infidels.
Unidentified Speaker: Yes. The second thing is that peace shouldn't be endless.
Nihad Awad: This is correct.
· Months after the secret meeting about Oslo, Awad publicly expressed his support for the Islamist Hamas.
· Speaking at a 1999 conference of the Islamic Society of North America which, like CAIR, is an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial and has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, Awad argued that, by spreading the message of their faith, Muslims would rise to power in America:
"And Muslims in America are in the best position to show Islam and to show action and to show vision, not only for aMuslim school how it should be run, but for the entire society – how it should be run. Who better can lead America than Muslims? But to lead you have to be in the front. You have to be in the driving seat."
· During a June 2001 sit-in outside the State Department, Awad defended support for what he called "Palestinian resistance against the occupation." The sit-in occurred just five days after a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub killed 21 people, mostly teenagers. Awad said he condemned the death of innocent civilians in any circumstance but did not condemn the attack itself. Earlier, he seemed to justify Palestinian violence:
"These people have been occupied. Had they been Europeans or of other nationalities, had Texas been occupied by Mexico, we would support the Texans to drive the Mexican forces out. So this is what happened in Palestine. And the Palestinians are using legitimate means of resistance. We should not be shy about it and we should not be apologetic about it."
· In August 2008, Awad spoke at a forum on the case of Sami Al-Arian, who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiring to provide goods or services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Al-Arian was charged with violating a 1995 executive order by President Clinton banning transactions with terrorist groups including the PIJ, and with violating 1996 legislation prohibiting material support. Clinton said his order was signed because groups like PIJ were responsible for "grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists that disrupt the Middle East peace process constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."
In his remarks, Awad suggested that the law of the land be ignored, suggesting it was not in American interest:
"And I think many people have asked have to answer this question by pushing back, by reminding our government that this is the American government. It is not the Israeli government. America should take care of its own interests and should not prosecute cases on behalf of the state of Israel, because it is an occupational state."
And what of Frank Wolf and his "vendetta?" Wolf has an earned a reputation as a strong human rights advocate. He is co-chairman of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, with more than 200 Members of Congress. He has made repeated trips to Sudan and worked to stop the genocide in Darfur, spoken out against Chinese human rights violations, and traveled throughout Africa to see the devastating effects of corrupt governments, war, AIDS and famine. He has a long history of standing up against violence towards Muslims around the world, including in Chechnya, Bosnia and Kosovo.
In 2005, current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also focuses on China's human rights record, lauded Wolf as "an unmatched leader in his commitment to human rights. From Sudan to Sierra Leone to China and Tibet, Frank Wolf has used his position in Congress to give a voice to the suffering of people all over the world. We all want to commend and thank Congressman Wolf."
His request for additional information about the FBI's policy toward CAIR is not only reasonable; it is the responsible move for someone in his position. Awad exposes the desperately low depth his organization has sunk to in launching an ad hominem attack based on nothing.
It appears to be a lesson he learned during that 1993 meeting, when HLF director Shukri Abu Baker described to the group how "War is deception. Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you're leaving while you're walking that way … Deceive your enemy."