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Campaign pushes Obama to let convicted terror financiers go

Ghassan Elashi, CEO of the Holy Land Foundation, speaks to the news media during a news conference December 5, 2001 in Richardson, Texas.

Ghassan Elashi, CEO of the Holy Land Foundation, speaks to the news media during a news conference December 5, 2001 in Richardson, Texas.

A new Internet campaign is urging President Obama to provide clemency to leaders of the former Holy Land Foundation who were convicted of channeling $12 million to Hamas, a federally designated terrorist organization.

The campaign at Change.org, launched by an individual, portrays the Hamas supporters as nothing more than willing volunteers to help direct money to charities in the Middle East.

But the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported, “Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.”

The petition, which already has the support of more than 4,000 people, blames the prison sentences of the convicted terror supporters on “the anti-Muslim hysteria following 9/11 and the launching of the Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror.’”

“Ghassan [Elashi] and his colleagues were charged with material support for terrorism in 2004, on the claim, without evidence, that some of the funds they raised went to charities that were associated with Hamas,” the petition contends.

But the IPT noted the five defendants — Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader — were convicted of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funnel money to the terrorist group.

IPT said it wasn’t clear whether the clemency request was being considered seriously by the Obama administration. Obama has granted clemency to thousands of convicts already, but they’ve mostly been fraud, embezzlement and drug cases.

“Advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free,” IPT said. “The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

“Left unspoken is an undeniable truth behind the pardon/commutation campaign, and behind any ongoing defense of the Holy Land Foundation: Advocates do not believe Hamas support is wrong,” the report said. “The Muslim Legal Fund of American is leading the charge, supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relatinos and pro-Palestinian groups.”

But all the evidence was considered during court proceedings, IPT said.

Get the the book that exposed CAIR from the inside out, and the only book ever to provide the real “inside” story of jihadism run amok in the U.S., “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.”

“Records show, HFL (formerly know as the Occupied Land Fund) was part of a network called the ‘Palestine Committee’ in the United States. They committee answered to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s mandate that global chapters create ‘Palestine Committees’ in their home countries. Their task was ‘to support Hamas from abroad,’ the Fifth Circuit noted in upholding the convictions and sentences.”

The report said CAIR was added to the Palestine Committee following its founding in 1994.

IPT reported:

“The evidence showed that the long-standing connection between HLF and Hamas began in the late 1980s when HLF arose as a fundraising arm for the Palestine Committee …” the appeals court ruling said. “This fact was notably evident from the … [internal Palestine Committee] documents, which showed that HLF was created along with the IAP.” In addition, Palestine Committee bylaws “specifically recognized HLF as ‘the official organization for fundraising.’”

HLF apologists claim the group was merely interested in helping needy widows and orphans. But, the court pointed out, the orphans included Yehia Ayyash’s children. Ayyash was Hamas’s top bomb maker, nicknamed “The Engineer,” before being killed by Israel.

“An audio tape from 1996 that was seized from HLF’s offices contained songs praising Hamas and discussions of suicide bombers as heroes,” the ruling said.

“We believe that a jury could not help but infer from the above evidence that the defendants had a close association with Hamas and that HLF acted to fund Hamas both before and after Hamas’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

WND reported in 2010 when the prosecutors who handled the case were honored that the case resulted in convictions on all 108 felony counts and is considered the largest terrorism financing investigation in U.S. history.

While billed as the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., Holy Land Foundation “was actually the U.S.-based fund-raising arm of the terrorist group Hamas,” the Justice Department said.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder honored lead U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, among several others, at the 58th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony.

He credited prosecutors with safeguarding the U.S.

Jacks listed CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal scheme.

And the U.S. District Court in Dallas found “ample evidence” linking CAIR to the conspiracy.

If there is to be clemency in the case, it probably would have to be before Obama leaves office, as President-elect Donald Trump reportedly is preparing to jumpstart a bill in Congress that would ban the Muslim Brotherhood by declaring it a terror organization.

Trump foreign-policy adviser Walid Phares told Egyptian news outlet Youm7 that the legislation, introduced a year ago by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was held up due to the Obama administration’s support of the Brotherhood. But Trump plans to back the bill.

Cruz’s bill, the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015-16, identifies the Brotherhood and three of its offshoots, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamic Society of North America, as a terrorist organization.

The Brotherhood is already banned as a subversive organization in Russia and at least five Arab countries, including Syria, Saudi Arabia and its home base of Egypt. And the Brotherhood’s self-avowed “Palestine” branch – Hamas – was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997.

Former Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who introduced similar legislation during her last term in office, said such action is long overdue. She said it has been clear since the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial in 2007-08 that the Brotherhood is working through front groups toward an agenda of Islamic supremacy, which the Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad.”

WND reported when a former FBI official contended the Justice Department has enough incriminating evidence to file terrorism charges against CAIR and its founders but has chosen not to indict the group and its leaders.

John Guandolo, author of “Raising a Jihadi Generation: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in America,” believes the government balked at throwing the book at CAIR for political reasons.

CAIR has cultivated a number of political supporters – mainly among leading Democrats in Washington – that include senior White House officials. Secret Service entry logs show CAIR officials have visited the White House multiple times during the Obama administration.

In 2009, however, FBI Assistant Director John Miller wrote to Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., confirming that the bureau had “suspended any formal engagement” with CAIR field offices around the country.

He explained that the move came ‘in part as a result of evidence gathered through FBI investigation and presented in connection with the Holy Land Foundation trial.”

CAIR filed suit in 2009 against former federal investigator Dave Gaubatz and his son, Chris Gaubatz, after the two carried out an undercover investigation of the Islamic group. The Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Security Policy and three of its employees were later added to the suit for their part in commissioning a documentary about CAIR, along with attorney David Yerusalmi and his non-profit group SANE, which campaigns against the advance of Islamic law, or Shariah.

Get the the book that exposed CAIR from the inside out, and the only book ever to provide the real “inside” story of jihadism run amok in the U.S., “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.”

Evidence from the Gaubatzes’ investigation was published in the WND Books expose’ “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.” The book documents CAIR’s support of radical jihad, recounting its origin as a front group for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood

In the lawsuit, CAIR, does not defend itself against the claims of “Muslim Mafia,” and the FBI seized the CAIR material from the Washington law office of one of the Gaubtazes’ three high-profile lawyers. A previous filing in the case revealed a federal grand jury was investigating CAIR for possible violation of laws that ban financial dealings with terrorist groups or countries under U.S. sanctions.

Rogues’ gallery of terror-tied CAIR leaders

As former FBI agent Mike Rolf acknowledges in “Muslim Mafia,” CAIR has had “a number of people in positions of power within the organization that have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country.”

According to another FBI veteran familiar with recent and ongoing cases involving CAIR officials, “Their offices have been a turnstile for terrorists and their supporters.”

A review of the public record, including federal criminal court documents, past IRS 990 tax records and Federal Election Commission records detailing donor occupations, reveals that CAIR has been associated with a number of convicted terrorists or felons in terrorism probes, as well as suspected terrorists and active targets of terrorism investigations. The list is long and includes:

FBI agents arresting CAIR founding director Ghassan Elashi in 2002.
  • Ghassan Elashi: One of CAIR’s founding directors, he was convicted in 2004 of illegally shipping high-tech goods to terror state Syria and is serving 80 months in prison. He was also convicted of providing material support to Hamas in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial. He was chairman of the charity, which provided seed capital to CAIR. Elashi is related to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.
  • Muthanna al-Hanooti: The CAIR director’s home was raided in 2006 by FBI agents in connection with an active terrorism investigation. Agents also searched the offices of his advocacy group, Focus on Advocacy and Advancement of International Relations, which al-Hanooti operates out of Dearborn, Mich., and Washington, D.C. Al-Hanooti, who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, formerly helped run a suspected Hamas terror front called LIFE for Relief and Development. Its Michigan offices also were raided in September 2006. In 2004, LIFE’s Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers. Al-Hanooti is related to Sheik Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
    Muthanna al-Hanooti, wearing traditional headgarb

    “Al-Hanooti collected over $6 million for support of Hamas,” according to a 2001 FBI report, and was present with CAIR and Holy Land officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held in 1993 at a Philadelphia hotel. Prosecutors added his name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.

    Although Al-Hanooti denies supporting Hamas, he has praised Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs” who are “alive in the eyes of Allah.”

  • Abdurahman Alamoudi: Another CAIR director, he is serving 23 years in federal prison for plotting terrorism. Alamoudi, who was caught on tape complaining that bin Laden hadn’t killed enough Americans in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, was one of al-Qaida’s top fundraisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
  • Siraj Wahhaj: A member of CAIR’s board of advisers, Wahhaj was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The radical Brooklyn imam was close to convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and defended him during his trial.
    Imam Siraj Wahhaj

    “Muslim Mafia,” citing co-author’s Sperry’s previous book “Infiltration” as well as terror expert Steven Emerson’s research, reports that Wahhaj, a black convert to Islam, is converting gang members to Islam and holding “jihad camps” for them. With a combination of Islam and Uzis, he has said, the street thugs will be a powerful force for Islam the day America “will crumble.”

    Wahhaj was a key speaker at CAIR’s 15th annual fund-raising banquet in Arlington, Virginia, in 2009.

  • Randall “Ismail” Royer: The former CAIR communications specialist and civil-rights coordinator is serving 20 years in prison in connection with the Virginia Jihad Network, which he led while employed by CAIR at its Washington headquarters. The group trained to kill U.S. soldiers overseas, cased the FBI headquarters and cheered the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. Al-Qaida operative Ahmed Abu Ali, convicted of plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush, was among those who trained with Royer’s Northern Virginia cell.
  • Bassam Khafagi: Another CAIR official, Khafagi was arrested in 2003 while serving as CAIR’s director of community affairs. He pleaded guilty to charges of bank and visa fraud stemming from a federal counter-terror probe of his leadership role in the Islamic Assembly of North America, which has supported al-Qaida and advocated suicide attacks on America. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and deported to his native Egypt.
  • Laura Jaghlit: A civil-rights coordinator for CAIR, her Washington-area home was raided by federal agents after 9/11 as part of an investigation into terrorist financing, money laundering and tax fraud. Her husband Mohammed Jaghlit, a key leader in the Saudi-backed SAAR network, is a target of the still-active probe. Jaghlit sent two letters accompanying donations – one for $10,000, the other for $5,000 – from the SAAR Foundation to Sami al-Arian, now a convicted terrorist. In each letter, according to a federal affidavit, “Jaghlit instructed al-Arian not to disclose the contribution publicly or to the media. “Investigators suspect the funds were intended for Palestinian terrorists via a U.S. front called WISE, which at the time employed an official who personally delivered a satellite phone battery to Osama bin Laden. The same official also worked for Jaghlit’s group.In addition, Jaghlit donated a total of $37,200 to the Holy Land Foundation, which prosecutors say is a Hamas front. Jaghlit subsequently was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
Nihad Awad
  • Nihad Awad: Wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR’s executive director at the Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists in 1993 that was secretly recorded by the FBI. Participants hatched a plot to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as charitable giving. During the meeting, according to FBI transcripts, Awad was recorded discussing the propaganda effort. He mentions Ghassan Dahduli, whom he worked with at the time at the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Hamas front. Both were IAP officers. Dahduli’s name also was listed in the address book of bin Laden’s personal secretary, Wadi al-Hage, who is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the U.S. embassy bombings. Dahduli, an ethnic-Palestinian like Awad, was deported to Jordan after 9/11 for refusing to cooperate in the terror investigation. (An April 28, 2009, letter from FBI assistant director Richard C. Powers to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. – which singles out CAIR chief Awad for suspicion – explains how the group’s many Hamas connections caused the FBI to sever ties with CAIR.)Awad’s and Dahduli’s phone numbers are listed in a Muslim Brotherhood document seized by federal investigators revealing “important phone numbers” for the “Palestine Section” of the Brotherhood in America. The court exhibit showed Hamas fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook listed on the same page with Awad.
Omar Ahmad
  • Omar Ahmad: U.S. prosecutors also named CAIR’s founder and chairman emeritus as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. Ahmad, too, was placed at the Philadelphia meeting, FBI special agent Lara Burns testified at the trial. Prosecutors also designated him as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Palestine Committee” in America. Ahmad, like his CAIR partner Awad, is ethnic-Palestinian.(Though both Ahmad and Awad were senior leaders of IAP, the Hamas front, neither of their biographical sketches posted on CAIR’s website mentions their IAP past.)
    Nabil Sadoun
    Nabil Sadoun
  • Nabil Sadoun: A CAIR board member, Sadoun has served on the board of the United Association for Studies and Research, which investigators believe to be a key Hamas front in America. In fact, Sadoun co-founded UASR with Hamas leader Marzook. The Justice Department added UASR to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case. UPDATE: In 2010, Sadoun was ordered deported to his native Jordan. An immigration judge referenced Sadoun’s relationship with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation during a deportation hearing.
  • Mohamed Nimer: CAIR’s research director also served as a board director for UASR, the strategic arm for Hamas in the U.S. CAIR neglects to mention Nimer’s and Sadoun’s roles in UASR in their bios.
    Mohamed Nimer
  • Rafeeq Jaber: A founding director of CAIR, Jaber was the long-time president of the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2002, a federal judge found that “the Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of Hamas.” In his capacity as IAP chief, Jaber praised Hezbollah attacks on Israel. He also served on the board of a radical mosque in the Chicago area.
  • Rabith Hadid: The CAIR fundraiser was a founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by the Treasury Department for financing al-Qaida and other terror groups. Its assets were frozen in December 2001. Hadid was arrested on terror-related charges and deported to Lebanon in 2003.
  • Hamza Yusuf: The FBI investigated the CAIR board member after 9/11, because just two days before the attacks, he made an ominous prediction to a Muslim audience.”This country is facing a terrible fate, and the reason for that is because this country stands condemned,” Yusuf warned. “It stands condemned like Europe stood condemned because of what it did. And lest people forget, Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: The CAIR legal attack on WND’s author is far from over. WND needs your help in supporting the defense of “Muslim Mafia” co-author P. David Gaubatz, as well as his investigator son Chris, against CAIR’s lawsuit. The book’s revelations have led to formal congressional demands for three different federal investigations of CAIR. In the meantime, however, someone has to defend these two courageous investigators who have, at great personal risk, revealed so much about this dangerous group. Although WND has procured the best First Amendment attorneys in the country for their defense, we can’t do it without your help. Please donate to WND’s Legal Defense Fund now.

 

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