Back in July The Council on American-Islamic Relations sponsored a forum on Islamophobia that focused heavily on charges against the Richardson-based Holy Land foundation, which stands accused of aiding the militant group Hamas.CAIR national board chair Parvez Ahmed told more than 200 Muslims and others that federal prosecutors named CAIR and other Muslim groups as unindicted co-conspirators in the case. He said CAIR doesn’t condone terrorism. The labeling does not mean the group has been criminally charged. “It is an attempt to silence the Muslim community,” Dr. Ahmed saidBut if it is an attempt to silence the Muslim community why does the FBI have CAIR big shots on tape meeting with Hamas…or as CAIR called them SAMAH…brilliant code guys remind me to go to CAIR next time I need to come up with a code name for something.
The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, participated in a three-day summit of U.S.-based HAMAS members and supporters in 1993. Until now, he had been identified only as Nihad LNU (last name unknown) in FBI reports and analyses. The meeting occurred in a Philadelphia hotel in the wake of a White House ceremony formalizing the Oslo Accords, a peace deal with the potential to end the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. CAIR, which touts itself as America’s premier Muslim civil rights organization, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and five of its officials. Omar Ahmad, who founded CAIR with Awad in 1994 and was previously identified as attending the Philadelphia meeting, also was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. The FBI already had wiretap warrants on several people who wound up organizing the 1993 meeting and agents listened in on the meeting itself. They concluded the two-dozen men present were HAMAS members or supporters. Transcripts and FBI analyses released since then show the meeting sought a strategy to kill the peace accord, which threatened to marginalize the Islamist movement. The group also discussed ways to improve HAMAS fundraising in America. (Counterterrorism.com)
More details were released at the trial today:
By DAVID KOENIG, DALLAS (AP) – An FBI agent testified Monday that leaders of a local Muslim charity helped plot how to derail a Middle East peace accord that they feared would prevent the elimination of Israel. The agent said leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development were among U.S.-based supporters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas who met at a Philadelphia hotel in 1993. The agent said the FBI bugged the conference room, capturing conversations in which Holy Land Chief Executive Shukri Abu Baker repeatedly told attendees to refer to Hamas as “Samah” – Hamas spelled backward. Baker and four other former Holy Land officials – including Abdulrahman Odeh, the group’s New Jersey representative – are charged with aiding a terrorist group, conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly funneling millions of dollars to Hamas through charities controlled by the militants. The Holy Land Foundation had a Paterson, N.J., chapter. As their trial began its third week on Monday, U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish rejected a defense move for a mistrial. He also dismissed a third juror – no explanation was given – leaving only three alternates plus 12 jurors for a case that could last several months. The Philadelphia meeting was highlighted in the 2004 indictment against the leaders of Holy Land, which was the nation’s largest Muslim charity until federal agents shut it down in December 2001. The testimony of FBI agent Lara Burns provided additional details about the event, including the participation of leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading U.S. Muslim-rights group. The meeting occurred as Hamas sought to block the Oslo accords, a deal that would have led to Palestinian self-rule but also coexistence with Israel. Burns read translated transcripts that purported to capture Baker and Holy Land Chairman Ghassan Elashi and other men discussing ideas for generating opposition to the peace plan and helping Hamas. The FBI agent said the men referred to Holy Land as “the fund,” to Hamas as “Sister Samah,” and to Hamas “operations.” Prosecutor James T. Jacks asked Burns if by “operations,” the men meant suicide bombings and attacks on Israelis; the agent replied that they did. Defense attorney Nancy Hollander objected, saying Burns couldn’t possibly know what the men meant. “Your contention is that Hamas does not engage in suicide bombings?” Fish asked Hollander. “Our clients are not charged with violence,” Hollander replied. She said the Jacks-Burns colloquy was improper and meant to turn the jury against the defendants. Hollander asked for a mistrial, which Fish quickly rejected.