Last week, we reported that an FBI agent identified Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) executive director Nihad Awad among those invited to a 1993 meeting of HAMAS members and supporters.
On Monday, jurors in the terror support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) were taken inside that 1993 meeting through transcripts obtained by the FBI. Federal agents were aware of the meeting and wired the Philadelphia hotel where it took place.
The meeting, called as the ink dried on the Oslo Peace accords in 1993, discussed at length how Islamists in the United States could help "derail" the deal. The pros and cons of the peace initiative, which established an autonomous Palestinian Authority, were not emphasized. Rather, the potential to isolate the Islamist movement, in this case HAMAS, appeared to be the primary concern.
The men discussed creating a new American organization to work on politics and public relations. The conversation was so sensitive, participants agreed not to discuss HAMAS by name. Rather, they agreed to reference "SAMAH," HAMAS spelled backward. Or better yet, sister Samah.
"War is deception," defendant Shukri Abu Bakr said. Abu Bakr was the HLF president until the organization's assets were frozen in 2001 for its alleged support for terrorism. "Deceive, camouflage. Pretend that you're leaving while you're walking that way. Deceive your enemy."
Also at the Philadelphia meeting, Omar Ahmad, a CAIR co-founder, who today serves as CAIR's chairman emeritus, picked up on the theme, offering an analogy of a basketball player's fake. "He makes a player believe he is doing this while he is doing something else," Ahmad said. "I agree with you…like they say, politics is a completion of war."
Jurors also saw a 2002 sworn statement from Abu Bakr submitted as part of a civil suit involving the HAMAS murder of an American teenager. In the statement, Abu Bakr dismissed the SAMAH/HAMAS references as silly, saying it was "a whimsical and ironic play on words" because SAMAH translates to "forgiveness." The "Islamic intellectuals, academicians, community leaders and representatives of American Islamic organizations" had no reason to conceal their conversations, he said.
The transcripts, however, tell a different story. When a meeting participant mentions HAMAS by name, it is Abu Bakr who shoots back: "Didn't we say not to mention that term?"