The man chosen Monday to head Syria's opposition government is a naturalized American who worked closely with Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the United States, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (GMBDR) reported.
Ghassan Hitto spent years in Texas where he actively supported defendants in the Hamas-support prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). The charity and five former officials were convicted in 2008 on 108 counts of illegally routing money to Hamas.
Hitto served as master of ceremonies for a 2007 town hall meeting on the case in Plano, Texas, hosted by a coalition calling itself "Hungry for Justice." There, Hitto echoed HLF's line that it merely provided charity for needy Palestinians, a recording obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism shows.
"Hungry for Justice is a coalition that strongly believes feeding hungry children, orphans, widows or men is not a crime," he said. "Hungry for Justice is a coalition that strongly believes opposing the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine is not a crime. Hungry for Justice is a coalition that strongly believes in due process. Hungry for Justice is a coalition that strongly believes in the first amendment and the freedom of speech."
Hitto also served as vice president of CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, GMBDR reported. He also was secretary-treasurer with the American Middle Eastern League for Palestine, which GMBDR said is another name for the Islamic Association of Palestine. CAIR founders had been IAP directors. In addition, Hitto is listed as a director of the Muslim American Society's Youth Center in Dallas.
The Muslim American Society was created by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. Last year, Abdurrahman Alamoudi – once the most prominent Islamist activist in America – told federal investigators that "Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood."
CAIR officials appear in numerous records from the HLF investigation, including court exhibits placing them and the CAIR organization itself within an umbrella organization founded by Muslim Brotherhood members in America to help Hamas politically and financially. That evidence prompted the FBI to break off relations with CAIR, with an official explaining "until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."
A New York Times report Tuesday cast Hitto as "the choice of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has long been banned and persecuted under the Assad family's government and that plays a powerful role in the coalition."
His selection won quick praise from Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "Washington should support the newly elected interim prime minister of Syria," Awad wrote in a Twitter post Tuesday morning. The night before, he posted an Arabic tweet congratulating "my brother and friend Ghassan Hitto on his election as President of the Interim - God willing permanent - Government in Syria. Ghassan is an aware and active person everyone can work with."