In an article titled Terror trial hurts group's funding, AP reporter David Koenig gives a megaphone to Parvez Ahmed, the current chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), to complain about his organization's inclusion as a an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
Piggybacking on CAIR's filing of an incredibly disingenuous amicus brief in an effort to have the organization removed from the list, Ahmed proceeds to whine about how prosecutors are on a mission to shut his organization down, without acknowledging any of the plentiful reasons as to why CAIR ended up on the Department of Justice's radar screen as a co-conspirator in the first place.
As Koenig reports, "[t]he Council on American-Islamic Relations has come up several times in testimony. An FBI agent said two founders of the group were present at a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia at which Hamas supporters plotted how to derail a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians." Ahmed, of course, "denied any link to Hamas by the council or the two founders who were in Philadelphia," and protests that the government is "trying to damage his group's reputation and chill Muslim opposition to the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation leaders."
Ahmed's denials are, of course, laughable on their face, and perhaps due to word limits and deadlines, there may not be enough space and time in mainstream reports to conclusively demonstrate exactly why. But as the CT blog has no such constraints, here is the background:
CAIR was founded by high ranking officials of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a Hamas front group effectively shut down after losing a $156 million civil judgment in a case brought by the parents of an American teenager murdered by Hamas terrorists. HLF was also a defendant in that case, and the ties between CAIR, IAP and HLF run very deep.
Ghassan Elashi, a defendant in the HLF trial, also a participant in the 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas activists (along with CAIR founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmed), founded CAIR's Texas chapter. In a previous criminal trial, Elashi has already been found guilty of laundering money for top Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook, as well as violating sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism. He was sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison.
Earlier in the week, Elashi caused a stir in the courtroom, yelling about how the trial was part of a "Zionist conspiracy," which is nothing new for Elashi and CAIR. When FBI agents raided Elashi's company, Infocom, CAIR issued a press release complaining of an "anti-Muslim witch hunt," and - in typical CAIR fashion - purporting to speak for all American Muslims, which stated:
American Muslims view yesterday's action as just one of a long list of attempts by the pro-Israel lobby to intimidate and silence all those who wish to see Palestinian Muslims and Christians free themselves of a brutal Apartheid-like occupation. We believe the genesis of this raid lies not in Washington, but in Tel Aviv.As I noted above, Koenig reported that CAIR members were at the 1993 Hamas meeting. But evidence introduced during the trial implicated CAIR in the conspiracy even further, as documents from the trial link CAIR to the other U.S.-based Hamas front organizations, and demonstrate CAIR's extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – specifically the Palestine Committee.
Further, shortly after its incorporation, CAIR received $5,000 from HLF, a fact CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad disingenuously denied, until he was forced to concede it after the wire transfer was made public.
And as I reported in The New Republic, "[i]n the days after September 11, CAIR used its website to raise money for HLF, sending people who clicked on a link--called "Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund"--to the HLF website." If you clicked on that link, it led you to the following, now defunct, URL: http://www.hlf.org/cgi-bin/sc/order.cgi?storeid=*105e08a34207ffd0b85d&dbname=products&itemnum=109&function=add (emphasis added). Clearly, it is the actions of CAIR's founders and leaders, and not an "anti-Muslim witch hunt," which has put CAIR in the government's crosshairs.
While there has been some mainstream coverage of the HLF trial, it has been sporadic, hardly befitting the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history. Their readership deserves better.
For consistent, thorough reporting on the trial, including daily trial blog posts, see the complete coverage of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT):
Fearing the Law They Face
HLF Overseas Speakers Dominated by Hamas
CAIR's Reputation and Incredibly Fluctuating Membership Roll
An Unexpected Guest
HAMAS Propaganda Discovered In Offices Of HLF Beneficiaries
HLF Trial Update: 2nd Israeli Witness Takes the Stand
Muslim Brotherhood Phonebook Confirms that MAS is Brotherhood's Baby
CAIR: Youngest Member of Hamas Family Tree
Terrorism Trial Continues in Dallas
Cross examination of FBI agent begins in HLF trial
CAIR identified by the FBI as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee
War is Deception
CAIR Executive Director Placed at HAMAS Meeting
The Muslim Brotherhood's Military Work in the U.S.
Buried Videos Surface in HLF Trial
Buried Videos and Documents in Backyard of Co-Conspirator Show HAMAS Links
Counterterrorism Blog Expert, Matthew Levitt, Takes the Stand in Dallas HAMAS Trial
Criminal Trial Begins for US Charity Accused of Funneling Money to HAMAS
Holy Land Foundation Trial Opens in Dallas
HLF Trial Update: Muslim Brotherhood on the Witness Stand
UPDATE: Credit where credit is due, AP reporter David Koenig has an article today on the evidence in the HLF trial titled, "Documents said to provide insight into Hamas support in U.S.," which makes CAIR Chariman Parvez Ahmed's continued insistence that his group's ties to Hamas and corresponding troubles with the Department of Justice are nothing more than "urban legends ... fed by the right-wing, pro-Israeli blogosphere" look even more ridiculous and outlandish than they already do.