He accused the FBI of killing two men in cold blood in separate incidents. But Obama administration officials saw Hassan Shibly as a suitable representative of the American Muslim community to include at Monday's White House meeting on combating religious discrimination, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has learned.
Shibly is the chief executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Florida. Since 2008, FBI policy has barred outreach communication with CAIR officials due to documents seized by law enforcement which place CAIR and its founders at the heart of a Hamas-support network at the time of CAIR's creation. Eyewitness interviews recently obtained by the IPT further detail CAIR's ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Until it determines "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 senior official wrote in 2009.
Why would the White House include CAIR when FBI policy is to avoid the group? A White House spokesperson wouldn't say, telling the IPT in an email Tuesday afternoon that "CAIR state chapter representatives have been included in broad meetings" with the White House and other cabinet-level agencies.
The meeting's focus is understandable, but the inclusion of a prominent CAIR official serves only to enhance the status of a group with documented ties to a terrorist-financing network. And the exclusion of voices representing non-Islamist Muslim reformers just makes their challenge of getting a fair hearing for their ideas more difficult.
Shibly's record should have been especially troublesome for staffers compiling a list of White House guests to meet with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. He is helping a family sue the FBI, alleging an agent unjustly shot and killed a friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev after hours of questioning in his Orlando home in 2013.
Independent investigations, requested by CAIR, by the Justice Department and a Florida state attorney found that Ibragim Todashev, a "skilled mixed-martial arts fighter," attacked the agent shortly after acknowledging involvement in a separate triple-murder case in Massachusetts. Todashev continued charging after being shot, prompting the agent to fire more.
Shibly rejected the findings, saying only Todashev could "contradict the government's narrative" but he was dead. Similarly, Shibly joined other CAIR officials in blaming the FBI for the 2010 death of a Detroit imam who refused to surrender to arresting FBI agents and shot an FBI canine trying to subdue him. Again, independent investigations CAIR requested supported the agents' actions, and even included video showing the imam trying to conceal his Glock 9mm handgun.
During a 2012 radio interview, Shibly claimed "the imam was tied and bound and was shot. And that is very troubling. Why was a man in chains shot?"
Shibly made this statement two years after video of the shooting was released. There is no evidence supporting Shibly's description.
While there was room for Shibly at the White House, the guest list included no representatives from a new coalition of non-Islamist Muslims which issued a declaration and statement of principles for the Muslim Reform Movement. The values described include "peace, human rights and secular governance," a call to defeat "Islamism, or politicized Islam," and a simple declaration: "We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam."
These are the values that merit the endorsement of a meeting with top White House staffers.
But for the past seven years, the Obama White House has opened its doors to the entire spectrum of radical Islamist groups, just like CAIR. These groups have rationalized the actions of Islamic terrorist groups that have killed Americans, warned American Muslims against cooperating with law enforcement, smeared genuine Muslim moderates like Zuhdi Jasser and Asra Nomani as traitors and accused anyone who dared to utter the term "radical Islam" as "Islamophobic." These are the groups that the White House should have marginalized. The fact that Obama legitimized radical Islamist groups will be his real legacy.