Department of Justice officials declined a request last year to prosecute Omar Ahmad, a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), on Hamas-support charges emanating from the successful prosecution of a Texas charity.
Now U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is asking Attorney General Eric Holder to explain why. King's letter, released Monday, follows a report from Patrick Poole last week that senior Department of Justice officials in March 2010 turned down a request from prosecutors in Dallas to bring the case.
"Who made the final decision not to prosecute?" King asked in his letter. "Who, if anyone, from the Executive Office of the President, consulted with, advised, or otherwise communicated with the Department of Justice" on the issue?
Ahmad and CAIR were among hundreds of unindicted co-conspirators in the terror-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). In 2008, a federal jury in Dallas convicted HLF and five former officials on 108 counts related to illegal Hamas support.
If additional charges were to be brought, it is logical that Ahmad would be among the targets. Records show he played a significant role in a coalition of groups assembled to help Hamas politically and financially in America. That group, called the Palestine Committee, gathered in Philadelphia in 1993 to discuss ways to "derail" U.S.-brokered peace accords between Israelis and Palestinians.
FBI wiretaps show that Ahmad was one of three people on a telephone call to decide who would attend the Philadelphia meeting. Though he was not a part of HLF, records show the charity paid for Ahmad's travel to the Philadelphia meeting.
He called that meeting to order and led much of its discussion, including his ready agreement to deceive Americans about the group's true objectives.
In addition, CAIR appears among other Palestine Committee organizations in a 1994 meeting agenda for the group.
Four months later, Ahmad, also known as "Omar Yehya," called another meeting of committee members to try to resolve tension between HLF and a rival fundraiser. Despite not being an HLF officer, he was heard on another wiretap discussing salary issues for an HLF official, Mohamed El-Mezain, who was moving to San Diego to open a branch office.
That, and other evidence, showed Ahmad served as "a leader of the Palestinian committee," testified FBI Special Agent Lara Burns.
The HLF evidence prompted the FBI to cut off formal communication with CAIR in 2008. That policy continues, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before a House committee earlier this month. Mueller said the Bureau has concerns with CAIR's national leadership.
According to Politico's Josh Gerstein, this is not the first time DOJ officials passed on charging Ahmad. "Some prosecutors wanted to include CAIR and others in the case at that time," Gerstein reports.