Politicians normally are pretty protective of their public images. They might take campaign money from some shady characters, but common sense dictates that they avoid too many public associations that can prove embarrassing.
One exception seems to be when the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is involved. Growing public evidence shows that CAIR has been dishonest about its roots and its ultimate objective. But that fact has done nothing to give pause to several members of Congress who continue to speak at CAIR functions and support the group's political agenda.
CAIR has established roots in the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a group found to be a front for Hamas. In June 2007 federal prosecutors named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-support trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). The "List of Unindicted Co-conspirator and/or Joint Venturers" designates CAIR as a co-conspirator because of its associations with the US Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee.
Prosecutors say that the Palestine Committee was created specifically to help Hamas through financial and political support in the United States. CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad (its current chairman emeritus) is listed as an individual committee member and is an unindicted co-conspirator, too. In other cases, CAIR employees have been prosecuted for engaging in their own conspiracies.
Despite these facts, several members of Congress maintain close ties with CAIR without addressing or condemning the organization's radical affiliations and disconcerting history. In doing so, these elected officials bestow legitimacy upon CAIR while assisting the organization to evade pertinent questions about its radical roots.
For example, on July 14, 2007, less than a month after CAIR's designation in the HLF case, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) expressed his wholehearted support for CAIR at a CAIR-Seattle Banquet:
"I always enjoy being with people like CAIR because you inspire me really to keep fighting… And I think that's why this kind of an organization is so important for people to understand that you have a right in America to say whatever you believe. And I think you ought to exercise that. That's being a real American."
Members of CAIR have done just this: expressed their right to say whatever they believe. It is clear they believe that virtually all U.S. counter-terror investigations are erroneous, flawed, and discriminatory.
While that consistent opposition to U.S. terror cases is troubling, the record shows it may not reflect the depth of terror support held by some CAIR leaders. Most notably, before he became CAIR's Chairman, Omar Ahmad expressed his support for "Samah" (Hamas spelled backward) at a secret 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas members and supporters. He also acknowledged the need to mislead Americans about his true goals for the Middle East:
Om: We've always demanded the 1948 territories. I mean, we demanded ... UI.
UM2: Yes, but we don't say that publicly. You cannot say it publicly. In front of the
Om: No, we didn't say that to the Americans.
Yassin was a Hamas founder and its spiritual leader. That 1993 meeting had been convened to discuss ways to derail the Oslo Peace Accords and plot a strategy to support Hamas in the United States without being labeled as terrorists. In addition, participants discussed the need for a new organization, untainted by links to extremism, to be a political arm of the Committee. CAIR was born the following summer with Ahmad and fellow meeting participant Nihad Awad among its three founding incorporators. Awad and Ahmad were IAP officers at the time of the Philadelphia meeting.
Throughout its history, CAIR has repeatedly supported people with demonstrated ties to terrorist organizations, sometimes with congressional support. One faithful supporter of CAIR is Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress. During the summer of 2007, Ellison joined CAIR in seeking public support for convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) supporter Sami Al-Arian saying:
"[the Al-Arian family is] working on his case, trying to get some attention from members of Congress, I'm speaking with them and I hope others do as well."
Al-Arian pleaded guilty in April 2006 to conspiring to provide goods and services to the PIJ. Evidence in his 2005 criminal trial showed he was a member of the PIJ's governing board and that he solicited donations by praising the PIJ and its terrorist attacks. His case remains in the public eye today as he was found to be in civil contempt for refusing to testify before federal grand juries in Virginia investigating terror financing. Additionally, Al-Arian was indicted for criminal contempt in June 2008.
In October 2007, CAIR-Florida's (CAIR-FL) 5th Annual Banquet, held at the Tampa Convention Center, featured a video message in which Ellison offered support for CAIR's mission of engaging the community in conversation about Muslim issues." Ellison appeared live and delivered a speech a month later at the CAIR-National 13th Annual Banquet on November 17, 2007. He specifically thanked CAIR's co-founder and current national Executive Director Nihad Awad, for being present at the local chapter's banquet.
In September of 2008, Ellison was prominent at CAIR-Minnesota's (CAIR-MN) Second Annual Ramadan Dinner. Unsurprisingly, on September 24, 2008 a CAIR press release welcomed legislation co-sponsored by Representative Ellison which praised the "Amman Message," an interfaith letter sent from Muslim leaders to Christian leaders which, upon close examination, is really a call for conversion to Islam. Two days later, on September 26, 2008, Ellison joined CAIR-MI's Dawud Walid in a panel at the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington D.C. It should be noted that Walid urged recognition, cooperation with and conciliation towards Hamas after it won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. Walid maintains this position despite Hamas' presence on the State Department's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and its sworn devotion to the destruction of the State of Israel:
"We also hope that governments all throughout the world recognize this new government and that it is the mandate of the Palestinian people and that no outside government or force will try to start a coup d'etat or undermine or kill any of the elected officials of the new Palestinian government."
Also joining Walid at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation panel was Representative Andre Carson (D-IN). Carson, who in March 2008 became the second Muslim sworn in as a member of Congress, was elevated to public office through donations raised in part at a CAIR-sponsored fundraiser. Since his election, Carson's relationship with CAIR has expanded. For example, Carson headlined a Candidate Forum in August of 2008 for CAIR-California (CAIR-CA).
Former Presidential Candidate and U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has shown his support for CAIR by sending a video message praising the organization to the CAIR-Chicago 4th Annual Banquet on February 23, 2008:
"As the Council on American-Islamic Relations meets I want to pledge to you. I continue to pledge for your efforts to make sure that the powerful message of Islam, a message of peace and reconciliation reverberates. I want to make sure that you know that you have a friend in the United States Congress."
In August of 2008, a CAIR Houston Banquet featured messages of support from not one, but three members of Congress. In fact, the Congressmen in question were the exact same three who offered support for CAIR's causes at CAIR Houston's September 2007 Conference. The 2008 Houston Conference took this support to the next level, as two "Certificates of Congressional Recognition and/or Appreciation" were presented to CAIR. The first representative to speak, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) presented a Certificate of Congressional Recognition to CAIR reading:
"You are soundly recognized by the 18th Congressional District for dedication and commitment of the United States that is truly worthy of respect, admiration and accommodation of the U.S. Congress."
Jackson Lee's Certificate of Recognition solidified her support of CAIR, as she had sent representatives to, and spoken at, several of the organization's previous conferences. For example, she spoke at a CAIR-Dallas Banquet in August 2007, where she offered disturbing CAIR-like rhetoric – labeling the Oklahoma City bombing the first terrorist attack on U.S. soil, while ignoring the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center:
"How proud I am to have been associated with CAIR's legislative work in the United States… We need CAIR and we need all of you supporting CAIR, for it has been willing to stand up and be courageous in time that were difficult. I'm reminded, in 1995 and the first terrorist act on the soil of the United States, so account for anti-Muslim feelings. I joined with my friend and Council member M.J. Khan to join together in Houston to stand up against violence."
After Jackson Lee spoke at the August 2008 CAIR Houston Banquet, a representative from the offices of Congressman Al Green (D-TX) spoke briefly before presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to CAIR Houston on behalf of Congressman Green.
To top it off, a letter written to CAIR from Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX) was read aloud to the audience. Part of the letter read:
"Since 1994 CAIR has been a leading advocate and addresses some of the most important issues facing our nation. CAIR has served a vital function in the Houston area through its dedication to educating communities about Islam and its work in protecting civil liberties, as well as promoting civil rights... I wish you continued success for many years to come."
Another major congressional supporter of CAIR is Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). In early 2007, Pascrell drew criticism for his decision to reserve a conference room on Capitol Hill for CAIR's panel discussion "Global Attitudes on Islam-West Relations: U.S. Policy Implications." On July 31st, 2008, the New Jersey chapter of CAIR (CAIR-NJ) sent out an action alert calling on American Muslims and "other people of conscience" to thank Rep. Bill Pascrell for "standing up to those who seek to marginalize the American Muslim community." The press release came in response to Pascrell's defense of controversial ads supported by the radical Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a former CAIR-National Board Member who was placed on a list of potential unindicted co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing Trial.
Wahhaj has served on CAIR advisory board and a frequent speaker at CAIR events. In a 1992 speech, he argued a united Muslim community was the path to a power more legitimate than nationality:
"If we will be united and stop these artificial boundaries that separate us...made by some Europeans, somewhere there. Those laws are not real. Muslims everywhere will be brothers of Muslims everywhere. When we understand that, that then we'll be powerful. When we can make the vision come to reality. In this day...we could do it, but there'd have to be Islamic coordination, question is, who will pay the price?"
The previous year, he advocated a more direct approach:
"Those who struggle for Allah, it doesn't matter what kind of weapons, I'm telling you it doesn't matter! You don't need nuclear weapons or even guns! If you have faith in Allah and a knife!! If Allah wants you to win, you will win! Because Allah is the only one who fights. And when his hand is over your hand. whoever is at war against my friends, I declare war on them."
Ask CAIR about Wahhaj, or about any concerns that it is tied to a radical agenda, and it will respond with an accusation that its critics are motivated by "Islamophobia." However, by crying "Islamophobia," CAIR fails to adequately address legitimate accusations. The organization petitioned the federal court in Dallas to be removed from the unindicted co-conspirator list in the HLF trial, but the court never acted on that request. Just last week, the FBI's case agent testified that CAIR was a Hamas front created following discussions at the 1993 Philadelphia meeting.
The organization has been silent about its founders' role in that 1993 Hamas meeting and has offered no argument about its chairman emeritus' embrace of deception as a political tactic. Meanwhile, CAIR's inclusion on the HLF trial co-conspirator list is not the only evidence demonstrating CAIR's connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Among the documentation is an online interview with the second-in-command of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Habib, in which Habib admitted that it would be accurate to say that there is a "relationship" between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. Also, CAIR's Awad gave an interview earlier this year to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islam Online website in which he places partial blame on the United States for 9/11.
In sum, CAIR's main congressional allies either don't know or don't seem to care about these allegations and connections. They appear unconcerned that CAIR's founders discussed the need to mislead Americans about their true objectives. What will it take for them to pay attention?
 USA v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. "List of Unindicted Co-Conspirators and/or Joint Venturers." Attachment A. 04-CR-240-G. (TX ECF).
 USA v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Government Exhibit 16-53, p.14.
 USA v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Government Exhibit 16-67, p. 4.
 Fact Sheet, "Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)," Office of Counterterrorism, October 11, 2005
 "Local Muslim Leaders in Michigan Respond to Hamas Victory," WXYZ-ABC Detroit-MI,
January 27, 2006
 Talib I. Karim, "Muslims Rally Support for Andre Carson in Bid to Put Second Muslim in Congress," The Muslim Link, September 26, 2008.
 Islamic Educational Video Series, International Institute of Islamic Research, Fall 1992.
 Siraj Wahhaj, "The Afghanistan Jihad," Toronto, Canada, Sept. 28, 1991. Video purchased at November 1997 MSA event.