U.S. Rep. meets group accused of terror ties Muslim congressman calls fears ‘ridiculous’
The only Muslim in Congress defied criticism from Arizona’s congressional delegation and spoke Friday at a fundraiser for the local chapter of a national organization with suspected links to Hamas.
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and U.S. Reps. Trent Franks and John Shadegg, both Arizona Republicans, wrote a letter urging Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to shun the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“We are deeply concerned that any official support of this organization would undermine the legitimate concerns of federal investigators about CAIR’s relationship to foreign terrorist organizations,” the letter said.
But Ellison, a Muslim convert, came anyway and was applauded by about 300 people who attended a dinner at the Hilton Phoenix East/ Mesa. Ellison spoke about the fresh start in relations with Islamic countries under President Barack Obama’s administration.
“I would never associate myself with anyone even soft on terrorism,” he said before the speech. “We all want to fight terror. We all want to live in a safe community.”
The fears Kyl, Franks and Shadegg expressed in the letter are “ridiculous,” he said.
If there is any truth to the allegations that CAIR supports the Palestinian terrorist organization, Ellison said, there should be arrests and prosecutions.
But the leader of another Valley Muslim organization was disappointed by Ellison’s appearance.
“It makes my work 10 times harder when these groups are legitimized by a congressman,” said Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Jasser and others say CAIR was labeled as a front group for Hamas by an FBI agent during last year’s trial and conviction of five former organizers of the Holy Land Foundation, who were found guilty of funneling $12 million to Hamas.
CAIR also was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land trial.
But Ahmad Daniels, executive director of CAIR’s Arizona chapter, denied ties to Hamas or other terrorists.
“In no way, shape or form is CAIR Arizona associated with Hamas,” Daniels said. “We’re not terrorists. We’re freedom-loving Americans like everyone else.”
Daniels said CAIR’s mission in Arizona is social justice. He also said he is involved in reaching out to other religions through interfaith organizations.
He called CAIR’s supposed links to Hamas “an old rumor” and said opponents should either produce evidence or drop it.
Jasser said his group believes in separation of “mosque and state” and clashes with CAIR, which he said supports creation of Islamic states.
But Daniels said CAIR believes in upholding the U.S. Constitution.
Last year the world guilty was read a total of 108 times in a Dallas court room as a jury convicted the Holy Land foundation and each of the defendants of raising money to fund Hamas terrorism. At the same time they were implicating CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The supposed Human rights organization was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Indeed one key piece of evidence was the Wiretap evidence that put CAIR’s former executive director, Nihad Awad, at a Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders. Participants hatched a plot to deceive Americans and disguise payments to Hamas as it launched a campaign of terror attacks. CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad also joined Hamas big shots at the summit.
Since that time the FBI has cut off all contact with the group citing its terrorist ties. But all his evidence isn’t enough for Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, ignored pleas from actual moderate Muslim Groups to show his support for the terrorist supporting CAIR