The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide and crimes against humanity in March 2009, but that did not keep Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad from meeting with the dictator's representatives in November 2009, according to law-enforcement sources.
Bashir is wanted in connection with the Darfur genocide that stirred a global outcry. He recently stirred controversy by trying to get into the United States to attend this month's opening of the United Nations General Assembly.
The sources told the Investigative Project on Terrorism that the Sudanese dictator's representatives met with Awad during the 2009 UN summit seeking his help to gain access to individuals in the Obama administration.
Awad subsequently traveled to Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in August 2010 and met with a representative of Bashir.
This was not the first time the CAIR chief met with representatives of dictators. He sought out help from late Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi in September 2009, seeking his help underwriting CAIR's efforts to distribute 1 million copies of the Quran to government officials and to the general public in the United States.
A Libyan news website noted CAIR communications director Ibrahim Hooper and Chairman Larry Shaw joined Awad in appealing to the Libyan dictator. "[W]e appreciate your efforts over the years and wish also to extend your interest will extend to Muslims in America, God willing," Awad said at a reception for Gaddafi. This came after Gaddafi's rambling, 100-minute speech to the General Assembly
In addition to the Qurans, Awad sought Gaddafi's help in launching a new entity called the Muslim Peace Foundation.
But CAIR's stance toward Gaddafi shifted after the start of the Arab Spring when Gaddafi began killing his own people. Awad and CAIR then denounced him as a madman. The CAIR leader denied receiving any money from Gaddafi during a March 2011 radio interview, saying that his pitch had failed.
But it was not as if Gaddafi's human-rights record was unknown in 2009. President Ronald Reagan denounced him as the "mad dog of the Middle East" following the bombing of a Berlin discotheque that killed that killed American soldiers in 1986, followed two years later by the Lockerbie bombing.
State Department documents obtained by the IPT under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that Awad, Hooper and Shaw visited Saudi Arabia to solicit $50 million in governmental and non-governmental contributions.