For several years, one of my severest and most persistent critics has been one Randall ("Ismail") Royer, an American convert to Islam. Here's a typical comment of his from his weblog dated Sept. 17, 2002: after calling me a "pop bigot" he comments on my "War on Campus" article with the following elevated and elegant commentary: "[Pipes] has served up another steaming shovelful of fertilizer. What a joy it is to read this guy. His stuff requires no real effort to deconstruct, no deliberate propaganda analysis to realize how he intends to deceive the reader."
I mention this unsavory person because today he was indicted and arrested for his association with terrorism, specifically his having joined the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba, traveled to Pakistan, done propaganda work for it, and "fired at Indian positions in Kashmir." In addition, the indictment also states that Royer "possessed in his automobile an AK-47-style rifle and 219 rounds of ammunition" in September 2001. The grand jury charges that Royer "did unlawfully and knowingly begin, provide for, prepare a means for, and take part in a military expedition and enterprise to be carried on from the United States against the territory and dominion of India, a foreign state with whom the United States was at peace."
It's also worth noting that Royer was working for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), militant Islam's most aggressive political organization in North America, when he began training with Lashkar-e-Taiba. (He served there variously as a communications specialist and a civil rights coordinator; see an IslamOnline "Live Dialogue" for him sharing a by-line with CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad.) This means that CAIR now has a record of at least two former employees indicted and arrested in 2003 on terrorism charges; the other was Bassem Khafagi, CAIR's director of community relations before his arrest this January. Oh, and one must not forget that a member of CAIR's advisory board, Siraj Wahhaj, was named as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments nearly a decade ago. So, CAIR not only apologizes for terrorism but is now implicitly accused of having more direct links to it. (June 27, 2003)
Defendant Randall T. Royer, shown at far right at a hearing in June, faces at least 20 years in prison. Credit: William J. Hennessy Jr. for The Washington Post
July 9, 2003 update: Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg argued in court, reports Karen Branch-Brioso in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that Royer is "dangerous ... and should be kept in jail pending trial." As proof, Kromberg offered several pieces of evidence, including these two: (1) Royer's admission in his testimony before a federal grand jury in St. Louis last year that he fought with jihadists in Bosnia under one Abu Zubar, who had been "sent by Osama bin Laden to Bosnia." (2) Ramon Royer, Ismail's father, having rented a room in his St. Louis-area home in 2000 to Ziyad Khaleel (also known as Ziyad Sadaqa), a student at Columbia College in Columbia, Mo. Khaleel bought the satellite phone carried to Afghanistan by Tarik Hamdi (on which, see my article, "Bin Laden and Herndon, Virginia") and used by Al-Qaeda for planning the two U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa in August 1998. Kromberg said this showed how "the connections between Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaida are manifold."
July 12, 2003 update: Royer's attempt to get out on bail was denied yesterday, and so will have to remain in jail until the expected November trial. The key reason for the bail refusal, according to The Washington Post, is that the judge was "not satisfied with Royer's explanation of why he had an AK-47-style rifle and more than 200 rounds of ammunition when stopped by Alexandria police" in September 2001. If convicted, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds, Royer faces up to 55 years on the weapons charges alone.
Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter and businessman convicted of terrorism-related charges.
July 31, 2003 update: A feisty organization called Anti-CAIR put out a notice today pointing to the fact that when Royer was driving around the Washington, D.C. area in September 2001 with an AK-47-style rifle and more than 200 rounds of ammunition, he was not a former CAIR employee but an active one, as indicated by a USA Today story from that time referring to him as "Ismail Royer of the Council on American-Islamic Relations." So, to sum up: CAIR now can boast one former employee and one active-duty employee arrested on terrorism charges, plus one member of its advisory board named as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in a foiled terrorist attack.
August 26, 2003 update: In a breakthrough in the "paintball case," three of Royer's associates plead guilty, reports the Washington Post, admitting to such charges as conspiracy, discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, attending a Lashkar camp in Pakistan, illegally transportating a firearm in interstate commerce, and transfering a firearm for use in a crime of violence. Presumably, this development enhances the prosecution's case against the hold-outs, including Royer.
Sept. 9, 2003 update: Bassem Khafagi, the former CAIR employee, pleaded guilty today at a plea hearing of (1) making "false material statements" on his nonimmigrant visa application on Nov. 8, 2000, in Kuwait City, Kuwait and (2) passing bad checks for thousands of dollars at two U.S. banks in early 2001. Khafagi faces up to a $250,000 fine on the visa fraud conviction and 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the two counts of bank fraud. His sentencing is scheduled to take place on December 4.
Sep. 10, 2003 update: Matthew Epstein of the Investigative Project points out today in testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee ("Saudi Support for Islamic Extremism in the United States") that a fourth CAIR-connected person has been indicted on terrorism, money laundering or fraud related charges. Ghassan Elashi was, according to articles of incorporation filed with the Texas Secretary of State on September 29, 1998, a founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter. Then, in December 2002, Elashi and his four brothers were charged with "illegal exports, making false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist, conspiracy, and money laundering."
Following the arrest of the Elashis, Steve McGonigle of the Dallas Morning News revealed (in "Aid push made for 5 tied to Hamas: Backers seek to raise $500,000 for Muslim brothers' legal team," currently available here) that CAIR's Texas chairman Mohamed Elmougy defended them: "All I can tell you is the community is behind the Elashi brothers, and they are caught in a kind of political game." CAIR was also active in funding Elashi's defense via a nonprofit entity called the Muslim Legal Fund of America. The Muslim Legal Fund of America's website, McGonigle notes, "lists its board of directors as a former board chairman of CAIR, a current CAIR board member, [and] a former president of the Dallas chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America."
Sep. 23, 2003 update: A fourth member of the alleged conspiracy pleaded guilty yesterday, reports The Washington Post. In addition to closing in on the remaining seven alleged members, the confession by Muhammed Aatique contains two points of interest. First, he answered in the affirmative to the judge's question "Did you understand that one of the countries against whom you might ultimately have to pick up arms could be the United States?" Second, he acknowledged that the paintball games the group had played were "conducted as sort of a military training," an admission that takes on added interest when one recalls Royer's sarcasm on this very point: "Ooooh, gosh, they have weapons," he told The Washington Post back in June. "I really resent the idea that a Muslim with a gun — he's a threat. A Jew with a gun — he's not a threat." Royer, a former spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sure has a way with words.
Sep. 25, 2003 update: The seven remaining men who have not pleaded guilty, including Royer, were accused in a new, 32-count indictment with conspiring to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban by battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan. At a meeting in Virginia shortly after 9/11, one unidentified co-conspirator is quoted saying that U.S. military forces in Afghanistan "would be legitimate targets of violent jihad" and that the group had a duty to fight them. These charges considerably up the ante; previously, the group had been indicted only on charges of helping Lashkar-e-Taiba against India.
Nov. 13, 2003 update: U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff today sentenced Bassem Khafagi to the 10 months of time already he has already served in prison, reports the Associated Press. It also indicates that "An immigration judge ordered Khafagi deported in August. He is expected to be deported soon to his native Egypt, where he is to join his wife and U.S.-born children."
Jan. 16, 2004 update: Back in August 2003, not long after his arrest, Royer stated that U.S. government "policy is to look for any tiny thing they can bust people on, to arrest them, to have them under control." Well, today that "tiny thing" turned out not to be so tiny. This is the day that Randall Todd Royer entered his surprise plea in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, of guilty to one count of using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and with carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison. Royer said he took "full responsibility for my actions" as he entered the plea. His lawyer, John Nassikas, said Royer admits that an object of the conspiracy was to fight against India in violation of U.S. law. His father, Ramon Royer, explained Randall's guilty plea as choosing to accept the lesser charges rather than face the more severe charges at trial. "It's a trade-off between that less than 20 years or, if he went to trial, he had a chance to go to jail for the rest of his life. What he had to put in balance is four kids and a wife - and whether he'd ever see them again."
Jan. 23, 2004 update: The plot thickens with the news, provided in fullest form in the Syracuse Post-Standard, that CAIR's former director of community relations Bassem Khafagi – whom last we heard from above on Sept. 9 when he pleaded guilty to two criminal counts – is connected to Rafil Dhafir, the Syracuse-area oncologist accused of illegally sending money to Iraq via a charity called "Help the Needy." Specifically, Khafagi and Dhafir jointly "owned a Sir Speedy printing franchise in Ann Arbor, Mich., until 1998." The connection between the two – one an Islamist and the other accused of being a Saddam Hussein agent – appears to be their affiliation to the Michigan-based Islamic Assembly of North America. A major article on this organization in the Washington Post quotes court papers describing it as engaged in the "dissemination of radical Islamic ideology, the purpose of which was indoctrination, recruitment of members and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism."
March 4, 2004 update: In addition to the six "paintball" defendants who previously had pled guilty, three more of them today were convicted by a court in Virginia, one of them of conspiring to assist the Taliban. (One was acquitted and one more awaits trial.) This occasion brings the court case to near-closure and prompts some reminiscing about the skeptical reactions that some observers had about the government's case.
For example, when Randall Todd ("Ismail") Royer, a CAIR functionary and also a leader of the "Virginia jihad network," or "paintball brigade" was arrested in 2003, Reason magazine web editor Tim Cavanaugh was disturbed. Days later, in "Wahhabi Who? The strange case of Ismail Royer," Cavanaugh wrote that for him, the "real mystery" of the case was the involvement of Royer, "whose prior writings give little indication that he was a jihadist." Cavanaugh then cited a number of Royer's articles and characterized them as "outspoken ... but pretty far from militancy" and concluded that until Royer's arrest a week earlier, "I'd have named Royer as somebody presenting the kind of moderate Islamic point of view everybody claims to want to hear. I'm still not sure I should be revising that view." To gild the lily, Cavanaugh quoted Ashraf Nubani, a Virginia attorney advising Royer, to the effect that Royer's "moderate views are not just something that he's prepared for this situation. These are opinions he has been saying in public for ten years."
Cavanaugh's affection for Royer extended to a sideswipe of author Stephen Schwartz (who had denounced Royer for his Wahhabi outlook and harassment of non-Wahhabi Muslims), writing, "just one person seems relieved that Ismail Royer" had been arrested. "That person would be Stephen Schwartz." (Cavanaugh seems to have missed the opening salvo in this weblog entry, where I also expressed relief at the arrest.)
But when Royer pled guilty to federal charges involving weapons and explosives on January 16, 2004, Tim Cavanaugh was strangely silent. Come on Tim, how about reminding your readers that you made this mistake? How about acknowledging that Schwartz was right in exposing that Royer claimed Wahhabism "is a figment of the imagination of extreme Sufis, Westerners, and others who feel threatened by authentic Islam"? And that Schwartz was right to denounce Royer's "harassment of the Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed of the Washington-based Saudi Institute".
More broadly, those inexpert in Islam, like Cavanaugh, only make fools of themselves when they defend what they imagine is the "moderate Islamic point of view" of criminal extremists like Royer.
Apr. 9, 2004 update: The U.S. Department of Justice announced today Royer's sentencing:
Royer, 31, pled guilty in January 2004 to a two-count criminal information charging him with aiding and abetting the use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and with aiding and abetting the carrying of an explosive during the commission of a felony. ... Royer was sentenced today to 20 years in prison. Judge [Leonie] Brinkema sentenced him to serve 10 years in prison on both counts, and the sentences are to run consecutively. In addition, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
The press release goes on to point out that the government's investigation of "the Virginia jihad network" that Royer belonged to is continuing and that, under the terms of his plea agreements, Royer is "required to cooperate fully with the government in the investigation and prosecution of other individuals associated with this network."
Apr. 29, 2004 update: Joe Kaufman breaks the news at FrontPageMag.com today of what may be a fifth CAIR associate arrested for terrorism-related activities (the others are Randall Royer, Bassem Khafegi, Siraj Wahhaj, and Ghassan Elashi). His name is familiar and his arrest was back in 2002; the news is his connection to CAIR. He is Rabih Haddad, executive director of the Global Relief Foundation until its closing by the feds and Haddad's own arrest and eventual deportation. Kaufman found the following statement at a well-informed and apparently reliable website:
Rabih Haddad is an effective fundraiser for the mosques in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and for the Ann Arbor chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group.
Kaufman mentions this piece of evidence in the course of showing an extensive web of ties between CAIR on the one hand and Global Relief and another shuttered "Islamic charity," the Holy Land Foundation. He concludes from these connections that "in late 2001, CAIR appeared to be in violation of United States law, as in regards to the providing of material support to terrorists."
July 7, 2004 update: Ghassan Elashi – a founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter – was convicted today of terrorism-related charges, along with four of his brothers (Bayan, Basman, Hazim and Ihsan). Specifically, they conspired to use their Dallas-are computer services business, InfoCom Corporation, to send seven illegal high-tech shipments to Libya and four to Syria, both of whose governments are declared state-sponsors of terrorism. In addition, InfoCom stood accused of undervaluing the value of shipments to help Middle Eastern customers avoid paying customs duties. As the Dallas Morning News sums up the three weeks of testimony, government witnesses established that the Elashi brothers "had run their company, InfoCom Corp., like an outlaw enterprise with little or no regard for export laws or lying to the government." Ghassan, InfoCom's vice president of international marketing, was convicted of three counts of conspiracy, one county of money laundering and two counts of making false statements about shipments. Another CAIR link to terrorism is thus established. Looking ahead, Ghassan and two brothers (Basman and Bayan) face another federal trial on charges alleging they knowingly did business with Mousa Abu Marzook of the terrorist group Hamas.
To sum up the state of CAIR's legal play: two of its associates (Ghassan Elashi, Randall Royer) have been convicted on terrorism-related charges, one (Bassem Khafegi) convicted on fraud charges, two (Rabih Haddad, Bassem Khafegi) have been deported, and one (Siraj Wahhaj) remains at large.
July 10, 2004 update: CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter responded to the Elashi verdict with the predictable mix of vitriol and victimhood, the Dallas Morning News reports. Khalil Meek of the chapter's board of directors told a news conference,
We believe that these convictions indicate a growing disparity and climate of injustice for Muslims. ... This is not justice. This growing trend of selective prosecution only furthers much of the community's view that this is nothing but a witch-hunt against the Muslim community.
He added portentously:
This is not justice. ... The injustice waged against this family, by which over 20 children were robbed of their fathers for their crime of being Muslims in America, is only part of the tragedy we witnessed. The other victim in this ordeal is justice itself.
It would be too much, I guess, to ask CAIR to hang its head when one of its board members is convicted of breaking the law by trading with state-sponsors of terrorism. But then again, perhaps its reaction suggests CAIR does not consider sending seven illegal high-tech shipments to Libya and four to Syria such a bad thing.
July 27, 2004 update: Almost three years after the U.S. government closed down the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, it today indicted this largest of American Islamist "charity" organizations and charged seven of its officers, including Chairman Ghassan Elashi, with providing more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas from 1995 to 2001. Charges in the 42-count indictment include conspiracy, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, tax evasion, and money laundering.
As usual when one of CAIR's own is indicted or convicted on a terrorism-related charge (Elashi was a founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter), it stayed mum except to declare that it would "monitor" the indictments to make sure the seven "are granted all their legal rights." In a classic case of changing the subject, CAIR goes on to blame the indictment on "pro-Israel organizations and individuals" and to assert that the U.S. government "should not use evidence apparently tainted by foreign intelligence sources from a nation that has its own political agenda."
July 28, 2004 update: Newspapers have provided detailed coverage of the HLF indictment; perhaps the most complete is that provided by Toni Heinzl of the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Dec. 16, 2004 update: I mention a threatened lawsuit by CAIR against the Cornell Daily Sun in an update today at "CAIR's Growing Litigiousness." It bears noting that the article that CAIR is complaining about, written by Sara Townsley, states that "five of its leaders have been deported, indicted, or convicted on terrorism charges." Townsley does not list those five, but five is the same number I list in my April 29, 2004 update of this entry, where I noted that the fifth of them, Rabih Haddad, "may be" associated with CAIR. My evidence at the time was not strong enough to assert the connection.
Now it is. In his Oct. 19, 2004, response to Townsley's listing, CAIR national legal director, Arsalan T. Iftikhar, on his own brings up Rabih Haddad's name and asserts defensively that Haddad "was deported on immigration, not terrorism charges" – thereby inadvertently confirming that Haddad was indeed associated to CAIR.
Dec. 30, 2004 update: CAIR is a defendant in an amended filing of a 9/11 class action lawsut. I provide details, draw some implications, and note CAIR's legal troubles ahead due to Anti-CAIR's counter suit at "CAIR Named as a Defendant in 9/11 Terror Lawsuit."
Feb. 7, 2005 update: In an important investigative report, Todd Bensman and Robert Riggs of CBS-Channel 11 News in Dallas find that three Elashi brothers (Ghassan, Basman, and Bayan) are more implicated in Islamist terrorism than had hitherto been known. They are closely associated with the directors and employees of a monthly internet publication, Alsunnah magazine, published by the Birmingham, England-based Centre for Islamic Studies. Alsunnah (properly transliterated As-Sunna, meaning the Way of the Prophet) is notorious for encouraging suicide attacks on American, British, and other coalition troops in Iraq, as well as attacks on Israelis. The magazine also calls for violent jihad to create a universal Islamic state. The magazine called for the overthrow of the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and so was banned there.
Since 2002, Alsunnah's web site has been hosted by a Richardson, Texas-based internet service company, Synaptix Corp., and Bayan Elashi is the journal's primary administrative contact. Synaptix' local directors are either close relatives or former employees of the Elashi triad, including their mother, Fadwa Elafranji, and Ghassan's wife, Majida Salem. Synaptix's articles of incorporation list John M. Janney, the man who stole www.DanielPipes.com from me during 2000 (for that story, see "About www.danielpipes.org"), as a director.
Channel 11 quotes Sajjan Gohel, of the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, about Alsunnah. "Its openly aggressive attitude towards Israel has encouraged British Muslims, British Pakistanis, to go off to far away lands to carry out activities of militancy." In early 2003, Israeli military forces seized stacks of leaflets on the West Bank produced by the centre that called on shahids to kill Americans in Iraq and solicited funds for a bank account connected to the centre. Gohel specifically notes that Asif Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, two Birmingham-area suicide bombers who attacked Mike's Place in Tel Aviv in April 2003, leaving three dead and 50 wounded, are believed to have read Alsunnah.
Comment: With focused, specific research like this, CAIR's links to the very most radical of Islamist movements are coming to light.
Feb. 7, 2005 update: CAIR is in total denial about Royer. Here is an exchange this evening on Fox News' Hannity and Colmes with Ahmed Bedier of CAIR's Florida office:
SEAN HANNITY: Did you not have a spokesman for your group at one time, a guy by the name of Royer that was on your staff that was convicted?
AHMED BEDIER: I think several years ago we had that individual in our group. And if you're inciting that somehow we're responsible for the actions or behavior of the individuals after they left our organization, that would be similar to somebody that worked for FOX five years ago and then commits a crime and FOX would be responsible for it.
Apr. 4, 2005 update: At the first day's trial of Ali al-Timimi, 41, who the U.S. government accuses of urging Muslims to move to Afghanistan to help defend the Taliban agains American forces, finds al-Timimi's lead defense lawyer, Edward MacMahon, shifting the blame to Randall Royer. As reported by AP's Matthew Barakat, here is what happened:
MacMahon said the real villain in the case is Randall Royer, a convert to Islam and a Muslim activist who had fought in Bosnia and trained with Lashkar-e-Taiba. Royer, a St. Louis native, was at the Sept. 16, 2001 meeting and had a long history of encouraging fellow Muslims to train with Lashkar, which the United States designated a terrorist entity in December 2001.
Apr. 13, 2005 update: More legal woes for Ghassan Elashi (a founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter). To refresh the memory: Ghassan and four of his brothers were convicted on July 7, 2004 of supporting terrorism by sending seven high-tech shipments to Libya and four to Syria (the five still await sentencing). And today, Ghassan and two brothers were convicted of supporting terrorism by sending money to Mousa Abu Marzook, one of the leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group. Ghassan and one brother (Bayan) were found guilty of all 21 counts they faced, including conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist. Another brother (Basman) was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and acquitted of other charges. The brothers are free pending their sentencing, which is scheduled for Aug. 1. Each count carries a maximum of 10 years in jail.
Ghassan Elashi left the courtroom without comment. CAIR also kept its silence. And so did the mainstream media; although it widely carried the news of the Elashis' conviction, to the best of my knowledge not one old news source indicated the CAIR connection.
Apr. 26, 2005 update: For completeness' sake, let it be known that Ali al-Timimi, 41, a Ph.D. in computational biology and a self-professed Islamic scholar whom prosecutors described as enjoying "rock star" status among his followers in Virginia, was convicted today on all ten counts against him, including soliciting others to levy war against the United States and inducing others to use firearms in violation of federal law. The firearms convictions require mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Al-Timimi became the tenth member of the "Virginia jihad network" to be convicted; two were acquitted.
Aug. 13, 2005 update: In a rare response to my stating that "five persons associated with CAIR have been convicted, listed as an unindicted co-conspirator, or deported on terrorism-related charges," the CAIR rep in Sacramento, Basim Elkarra, replied, as paraphrased by Andrew Adams of the Lodi News-Sentinel: "a few members of CAIR may have been convicted for terrorist connections, but with more than 100,000 members, it's hardly fair or accurate to try and create terror links for the whole group based on just a few people." Elkarra is then quoted: "We can't take account for every single member."
Comment: Do I really need to point out that I am discussing not members but employees and board members?
Aug. 15, 2005 update: A sixth CAIR person connected to terrorism? That is the claim filed by the plaintiffs in Estate of John P. O'Neill, Sr., et al. v. Al Baraka, et al. today in their "Amended RICO Statement Applicable to Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR-Canada." On p. 15, it names Mohammad Nimer as one of CAIR's "proven links to Islamic Terrorists." He works as the director of CAIR's Research Center and "also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Association for Studies and Research ('UASR'). The UASR is the strategic arm of Hamas in the United States."
Dec. 23, 2006 update: Elkarra dealt with the connections to terrorism one way and now Ibrahim Hooper, one of CAIR's central figures, deals with it in his own inimitable style. Here is an excerpt from a just-published article about me in Philadelphia magazine, January 2007 issue:
Pipes has long accused [CAIR] of being on the wrong side in the war on terror, a charge that CAIR's Hooper says is based entirely on innuendo and guilt by association – "on what my Great Aunt Tilly did in 1902."
Comment: I wonder how much longer CAIR's poobahs can blow off this problem with distortion and sarcasm, and when they will have to deal with it seriously.
Dec. 29, 2006 update: Nihad Awad found another, more aggressive way to respond to the terrorism-connection charges:
Nihad Awad, CAIR's top Washington official, vigorously denied the charges that CAIR has any links to terror groups and said the allegations are based on a "deliberate smear campaign" by individuals who cannot brook any criticism of the Israeli government. "We feel that the same crowd who is pushing these smears against CAIR is the same crowd as the neocons that pushed us into the Iraq war," he says. "They are trying to smear the Muslim community and they are trying to silence its voice. This takes us back to the McCarthy era."
Mar. 2, 2007 update: Corey Saylor, CAIR's government affairs director, has implicitly recognized that CAIR associates engaged in terrorism. Here is an excerpt from an article today by William Bender, "Sestak takes heat over appearance at CAIR banquet." Taylor
said Royer and Elashi were not working on behalf of the group, which he said condemns "any act of terrorism, whoever commits it."
"Some people try to hold us responsible for the actions of people that are associated with our organization. That's absolutely ludicrous," Saylor said. "You don't hold all of Enron responsible for what Ken Lay did."
June 4, 2007 update: Federal prosecutors have named CAIR and two other Islamic organizations, the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust, as one of the "unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers" in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas, a designated terrorist group.
In a filing on May 29, prosecutors described CAIR as one of 53 "individuals/entities that are/were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations." They listed ISNA and NAIT as two of seven "entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood." Josh Gerstein of The New York Sun reports that spokesmen for CAIR did not respond to requests for comment.
This development occurred in connection with the trial, scheduled to start on July 16 in Dallas, of five officials (Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulraham Odeh) of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, accused of sending funds to Hamas. This court filing listed some 300 individuals or organizations as co-conspirators.
What is an unindicted co-conspirator? Someone by and about whom hearsay is permissible in the courtroom. Here is a definition by legal journalist Stuart Taylor, discussing an entirely unrelated case:
The prosecutor is saying in essence in court ... that we believe this man was part of the criminal conspiracy, along with the people who are on trial. We haven't indicted him but the relevance of that for the purposes of the trial is that [it] lets them get in more evidence about the unindicted co-conspirator's ... out-of-court statements than they otherwise could. It's a way around the hearsay rule. ... For example, if they want ... one of their witnesses, to talk about what [a person] said to him, ordinarily that would be barred by the so-called hearsay rule. You can't ... testify in a trial about what somebody else said out of court. That rule has a lot of exceptions. One of the exceptions is if the person who you're trying to quote ... is named by the prosecution as an unindicted co-conspirator, then you can talk about what he said out of court.
Substitute "organization" for "man" and "person" and this description applies to the situation of CAIR, ISNA, and NAIT.
Comments: (1) CAIR being named as an unindicted co-conspirator complements the fact that many of its staff and associates are associated with terrorism, as I have documented in this entry.
(2) It is only logical that CAIR, whose origins lie in the Islamic Association for Palestine, which was founded by Hamas, be legally investigated in connection with Hamas.
(3) This may be the first time since 1994 that the press could not find a CAIR spokesman for a comment. And in its daily "American Muslim News Briefs" sent out today, CAIR conspicuously does not mention its own predicament.
(4) If it turns out that there is substance to the CAIR-HLF connection, then CAIR will be caught out by the changed political and legal environment since 9/11. Put simply, Islamists can no longer get away with they what could before then. (I elaborated this in a different context at "Nike and 9/11.")
(5) Whatever the future brings, this designation will hang as a permanent albatross around CAIR's collective neck.
July 9, 2007 update: What appears to be the first public response to the unindicted co-conspirator charge came yesterday when CAIR's national board chair, Parvez Ahmed, called it "an attempt to silence the Muslim community."
Aug. 16, 2007 update: CAIR filed an amicus brief today in an attempt to shed the "unindicted co-conspirator" designation. In part, it argues:
The Fifth Amendment was violated because the public naming of the unindicted co-conspirators damaged their reputation, good name, and economic well-being, without offering a forum for vindication, and without a legitimate governmental reason for doing so. The First Amendment was violated because the governmental action of publicly naming the unindicted co-conspirators chilled the expressive associational activities of the unindicted co-conspirators and the government does not have a substantially related compelling interest for their action.
Mar. 25, 2008 update: The Investigative Project on Terrorism has produced a 15-page document on "The Suspect Ties of CAIR Officials, Fundraisers, & Trainers" that more systematically covers much of the ground in this entry.
Muthanna Al-Hanooti, accused spy, meeting with Hillary Clinton in the White House in 1996.
Muthanna Al-Hanooti, accused spy, meeting with Hillary Clinton in the White House in 1996.
Ira Stoll of the New York Sun provides details of Al-Hanooti's Washington career in an article based on his own reporting from a decade and more earlier. He provides details about Al-Hanooti's meeting with Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House and his donations to politicians:
Federal Election Commission records show he donated to the campaigns of Mr. Bonior, of President Bush, and of Spencer Abraham, a Republican senator of Michigan who served as Mr. Bush's energy secretary. He also gave to Rep. Tom Campbell, a Republican of California, and to Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat of Michigan.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism today published pictures of Al-Hanooti with Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Jennifer Granholm, U.S. congressmen, and Bashar Al-Assad.
Commenting on the arrest, the head of CAIR's Michigan office, Dawud Walid said only that "CAIR will be closely monitoring to make sure he has his rights afforded to him and that he receives due process. He is innocent until proven guilty." Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, stood more by Al-Hanooti: "It is sad to see a humanitarian punished for humanitarian works."
The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports some details on Al-Hanooti's career at CAIR: "According to a Dec. 3, 1999 story in the Arab American News, Al-Hanooti was moving to Washington to work for CAIR. Then, a CAIR press release in June 2000 identified Al-Hanooti as executive director of its new regional office in Michigan. It isn't clear when he left the organization." Walid merely conceded that he worked briefly for CAIR.
Feb. 19, 2010 update: Nabil Sadoun of Dallas, a former CAIR board member, was excluded from the United States on the orders of Judge Anthony Rogers of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in connection with U.S. government accusations that he had ties to terrorist groups. Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR said Sadoun had left his organization several months earlier. Asked for the reason behind Sadoun's departure, Hooper replied, "Board members come on, they leave."