Some Connecticut Democratic Party officials want the owner of a local minor league baseball team, the Connecticut Tigers, to meet with the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CT). E. Miles Prentice also is the chairman of the board of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy (CSP), founded by former Reagan Defense Department official Frank Gaffney.
"While Mr. Prentice is allowed to have his own political opinions, it is clear that the Center for Security Policy supports anti-Muslim rhetoric, something that risks the safety and security of many, especially today. We encourage Mr. Prentice and CAIR to attempt to work toward a better understanding between them," Connecticut state Sen. Cathy Osten, state Reps. Emmet Riley and Kevin Ryan said in a statement reported by the Norwich Bulletin.
"They've funded all sorts of anti-Muslim bigotry," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Norwich Bulletin.
The meeting isn't going to happen, Prentice said.
"My colleagues and I at the Center for Security Policy are more than willing to debate the content of our research and advocacy on behalf of freedom and the practice of peace through strength with Americans of differing views, but who are also committed to freedom and our Constitution," he said in a statement. "We see no utility, however, to meeting with, or otherwise legitimating, those who seek to silence us or are associated with terrorist organizations like Hamas."
Instead, he said he's willing to meet "with influential leaders of various faith communities to affirm my personal commitment to welcoming and serving all of our fans, irrespective of their religious beliefs, if any, as we have always done."
In backing CAIR's demand, the Connecticut politicians ignored information in the public record tying CAIR and its founders to Hamas. Internal records seized by the FBI show that CAIR was part of a Muslim Brotherhood-orchestrated network of American Islamist organizations called the Palestine Committee. That committee was charged with supporting Hamas politically and financially.
CAIR is listed among the committee's affiliates in a 1994 meeting agenda. U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis ruled that prosecution evidence in the 2008 Hamas financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation established a "prima facie case as to CAIR's involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas." The FBI imposed a ban on liaison work with CAIR in 2008 due to concerns over links between CAIR executives and Hamas.
CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad's name appears in a phone list of Palestine Committee members together with senior Hamas political leader Mousa abu Marzook.
"I truly do not condemn these organizations," Awad said. "I will condemn them only when I see that media outlets are requiring the heads of Jewish foundations in America to condemn Israel for its treatment of innocent people; for killing people whether in Lebanon, Qana, or Palestine; for bulldozing their homes; and for their flagrant human rights violations.
"We do not and will not condemn any liberation movement inside Palestine or Lebanon."
Prentice should not have any connection with CSP, Norwich Democratic Committee member Tracey Burto told the Bulletin. The Connecticut Tigers lease a city-owned stadium and are negotiating a 10-year lease extension. Burto, Aouadi and other people attended last week's meeting of the Norwich Baseball Stadium Authority to voice their concerns about Prentice's CSP ties.
"I really think his being part of an anti-Muslim hate group is completely inappropriate," Burto said.
This is not the first time people associated with CSP have been in the crosshairs of Connecticut Democrats. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal lambasted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his CSP ties during his March 2017 confirmation hearing.
Blumenthal had a close relationship with former CAIR CT board member and Executive Director Mongi Dhaouadi, who reposted a pro-Qatar video by Sheikh Abdel Majeed al-Zindani on his Facebook page in June 2017. Al-Zindani appears on a United Nations list as a specially designated terrorist. In 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department described al-Zindani as someone who provides "religious guidance in support of [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] operations."
Dhaouadi also defended Palestinian terrorists.
"Resisting the occupation is NOT terrorism it is a legitimate right of defending ones (sic) self from your land from real terrorists i.e. IDF," Dhaouadi wrote in a 2017 Facebook post.
CAIR CT founder and board member Badr Malik defended the 2006 riots that followed the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.
"It's not an overreaction in my opinion. Because it's just like anti-Semitism is wrong, you don't put down a religion just because you are not of that religion. It's not supposed to be happening. Making fun of religion, making a joke of a prophet just to provoke people's emotion, it's not right. It's basically bashing a religion," Malik said.
Other CAIR CT board members are similarly radical.
Current board chairman Farhan Memon defended Javed Iqbal, owner of a Brooklyn-based company that provided New York-area satellite customers with Hizballah's TV channel Al-Manar that U.S. government branded a terrorist entity. Iqbal pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hizballah in 2008 and was sentenced to just over five years in prison in 2009. A 2006 New York Times report about Iqbal's case noted that Al-Manar programming included calls for violence including suicide attacks against U.S. troop in Iraq.
"It's like the government of Iran saying we're going to ban The New York Times because we think of it as a terrorist outfit," the Times quoted Memon saying. "Or China trying to ban CNN."
Memon claimed on Twitter in August 2014 that siding with Israel is "standing with the perpetrators of genocide."
CAIR Connecticut's banquets have featured numerous radicals over the years. These include Hamas defender and noted Islamist Linda Sarsour, Siraj Wahhaj and Aouadi's former boss CAIR Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly, a radical who defended Hizballah and opposes FBI sting operations.
These Democrats ought to be looking at CAIR's terrorist connections and some of the radical views held by Connecticut chapter leaders instead of trying to shake down Prentice.