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A Long-Time Threat, Part II By: Avram Hein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Internet service provider, InfoCom Corporation, based out of Richardson, Texas is known to have ties to the Hamas terror organization.[1] Seven days prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FBI raided Infocom’s offices. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) froze two of InfoCom’s bank accounts due to a 1993 investment and cover totaling $250,000 from Nadia Elashi Marzook, the wife of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and from Abu Marzook.[i] According to the affidavit:

In or around July 1992, the defendant Mousa Abu Marzook sent, or caused to be sent, $150,000 to the defendants Bayan Elashi, Ghassan Elashi, Basman Elashi, and Infocom, which was recorded on the books and records of ... Infocom as a credit to the pre-existing investment account of ... Mousa Abu Marzook.

 

It is then alleged that Nadia Marzook gave another $100,000 to the Elashi brothers and Infocom, but Infocom records were altered to make it look like the investment from her husband, a high ranking Hamas official, really came from her, thus obscuring the terrorist financing of Infocom Corporation. Mousa Abu Marzook is named by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a terrorist and a threat to US national security.[i]

 

InfoCom’s export privileges were revoked shortly after the September 5, 2001 search due to suspicions relating to shipments made to Libya and Iran. In addition, the United States government seized the assets of one of its clients – the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The Holy Land Foundation is another charity affiliated with Hamas whose funds go to support and reward terrorism. Infocom Corporation clients have included several other organizations, such as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which is known to be affiliated with Hamas.[ii]

 

The founder of InfoCom, Ghassan Elashi, was also a co-founder and board chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, shut down by President Bush due to its terror ties. Two weeks after the Holy Land Foundation was shut down, Elashi and other founded the Muslim Legal Fund of America. The address of the resident agent of the Muslim Legal Fund is the home of a board member of HLF. Its board of directors includes a former board chairman of CAIR, a current CAIR board member, a former president of the Dallas chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, the president of a Texas Islamic association and the owner of a website business. The Muslim Legal Fund hosted a fundraiser for the Elashi brothers’ legal expenses. The fund brochure was designed by Minaret Management Group. That Group is listed by the State of Texas as operating from the home of Shukri Abu Baker, a former president of the Holy Land Foundation.[iii]

 

Ghassan Dahduli, a former employee of InfoCom, was taken into custody on September 22, 2001. He refused to answer questions from the US government and has been implicated as an associate of one of the men convicted for their role in the attack on the US embassies in Africa.[iv]

 

According to federal court affidavits, a corporation in the DC-area, Sana Bell, Inc. was formed to provide funds to the International Relief Organization (IRO), the U.S. arm of the Islamic International Relief Organization (IIRO), shown below to be connected to Saudi financing of terrorism. Sana Bell, also known as the “SAAR” network, was involved in funding of numerous terrorist groups both overseas and domestically. “SAAR” is named after Suleiman Abdel Aziz al-Raghi, the Saudi financier of the Northern Virginia network. He been accused of being one of the original financiers of al-Qaeda. According to the government, SAAR was the primary financial supporter of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad operations in Florida (described below) through their IIRO and Sana Bell affiliates. The network is also suspected of laundering funds to organizations including al-Qaeda and Hamas. [v]

 

For several years, South Florida had been the American headquarters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Run out of a think-tank affiliated with the University of South Florida, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is responsible for numerous deaths. Upon arriving at the University of South Florida in 1986, Sami al-Arian, a Palestinian professor of engineering incorporated the Islamic Concern Project, soon renamed the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP). He was also the chairman of the World Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE), which, on March 11, 1992, entered into a cooperative agreement with the University of South Florida. At various times, the ICP and WISE shared a post office box, office space, and leadership.

 

However, it is important to note that the ICP was not formally affiliated with the University of South Florida, whereas WISE was affiliated, although both were operated by al-Arian while he was a professor at USF. In its newspaper Inquiry, the ICP often carried articles about the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including interviews with PIJ leaders. A board member of ICP is the brother of the late PIJ secretary-general Fathi Shikaki. Every edition of the Arabic-language magazine, Al Mujahid, published by ICP included the Palestinian Islamic Jihad logo and the words “Publication Produced by the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine-Lebanon.” The Islamic Committee for Palestine organized annual conventions throughout the United States. Through these conferences, the ICP brought militant Islamic terrorist leaders into the US, including Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman and representatives from Hizbollah, the Sudanese National Islamic Front, the Tunisian An-Nadha, Hamas, and Tawheed. ICP also raised funds for Islamic Jihad and other terror groups. They also overtly called for terrorist attacks against Israeli, Egyptian, Tunisian, Algerian, and American targets. ICP overtly solicited funds for families of terrorists, aided known terrorists, and overtly called for terror.

 

In 1995, Michael Fechter of the Tampa Tribune wrote an prominent series publicizing WISE and ICP’s connections to terror. After a scourge of protest, two weeks later, the University of South Florida suspended its cooperation with WISE.[vi] Yet, less than five months later, after the assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Dr. Fathi Shikaki, the new leader of Islamic Jihad was none other than Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, a former professor at the University of South Florida who was also a board member of WISE. In fact, several individuals who were associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad later came to be associated with WISE and the University of South Florida.[vii] In 1995, the FBI investigated ICP, WISE, and its members.

 

In November 1995, two Florida bank accounts belonging to Ramadan Abdullah Shallah were frozen by Presidential order and shortly after the home and office of al-Arian were raided by federal agents. In an affidavit, FBI Special Agent Barry Carmody testified that, “located and seized at the residence of Sami al-Arian on November 20, 1995, was a letter written by Sami al-Arian in which al-Arian is soliciting funds for the Islamic movement in Palestine. . . . This letter also appeals for support for the [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad. . . . [T]he Jihad has been declared an international terrorist organization by the Department of State.” When the full letter was declassified in October 2000, it appears that al-Arian was soliciting funds for suicide bombings in Israel. In the late 1990s, numerous evidence existed to show WISE’s connection to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as evidence that a WISE board member, Tarik Hamdi, had delivered a satellite phone and battery pack to Osama bin Laden.[viii] In 2002, Dateline NBC explored al-Arian’s connections to terrorism and the USF filed a lawsuit against al-Arian seeking to dismiss him. The USF had tried several times to terminate him, but he was kept on in the name of “academic freedom” despite proven ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[ix] Al-Arian is currently in jail, awaiting trial.[x]

 

One mainstream Muslim-American organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), bills itself as “dedicated to presenting an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.”[xi] Despite a seemingly innocuous goal, and many supporters who are unaware of CAIR’s more sinister roots, CAIR and its leadership promote militant Islam in the United States, in accordance with its roots in Hamas. CAIR disguises its support for terrorism and terrorist organizations as legitimate defense of civil rights. Its 2002 Civil Rights Report defends the actions of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Benevolence Foundation, and other individuals and organizations in which clear evidence has been revealed regarding terror connections.[xii] The roots of CAIR can be found in the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas. CAIR was founded in 1994 by two officials from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a U.S.-based support organization for Hamas. CAIR founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad explained that:

After the Gulf War was over, I was offered a job with the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) as their public relations director. ... In this effort I worked closely with IAP president Omar Ahmed. ... Omar suggested we leave the IAP. . .. ...In June 1994, we used a modest donation as a starting budget to open the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, DC.[xiii]

The IAP was founded by the head of the Hamas Political Wing, Mousa Abu Marzook in 1981 IAP has published Hamas communiques, recruitment videos, and hosted conferences raising support for Hamas. At an IAP conference shortly after the 1991 Gulf War, a speaker said that America and the marines were trying “to penetrate the flesh of our girls. And our honor, and our values, in order to turn our society in a perverse nation.”[xiv] That speaker was standing in front of a banner with “Hamas” spelled out in Arabic using images of human skulls, under the words “Islamic Association for Palestine.”[xv] In an August 2002 court order regarding freezing terrorist assets in the U.S., a federal judge found that “the Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of Hamas.”[xvi] In 1994, CAIR received a $5,000 initial disbursement from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.[xvii] According to the Treasury Department, the “U.S.-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development provides millions of dollars each year that is used for HAMAS.”[xviii] CAIR has repeatedly engaged in fundraising activities for the Holy Land Foundation and, in fact, share common board members in Ghassan Elashi.

CAIR’s leadership is a supporter of the terrorist organizations that fund it. In a 1994 speech at Barry University, the current executive director of CAIR, Nihad Awad announced that “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”[xix] That same year he announced his support for Hizbollah. FBI wiretaps have shown several CAIR board members, including Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of the Texas CAIR chapter and the head of the InfoCom Corporation, announcing support for Hamas.[xx] In 1993 in Philadelphia, future CAIR leadership was present at a meeting that was described by the FBI as “a meeting in the United States among senior leaders of HAMAS, HLFRD, and IAP.” According to the FBI, the meeting was attended by future CAIR board member Omar Yahya Ahmed and Ghassan Elashi, brother-in-law of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. According to FBI notes, “the overal goal of the meeting was ... to continue and improve their [HAMAS] fund-raising and political activities in the United States.” The note continues,

It was mentioned that the United States provided them with a secure, legal base from which to operate. The democratic environment in the United States allowed them to perform activities that are extremely important to their cause. In discussing financial matters the participants stated a belief that continuation of the Holy War was inevitable. [emphasis added]

It was decided that most or almost all of the funds collected in the future should be directed to enhance the Islamic Resistance Movement and to weaken the self-rule government. Holy War efforts should be supported by increased spending on the injured, the prisoners and their families, and the martyrs and their families.[xxi]

According to Khalid Durán, a moderate Muslim activist and academic, “CAIR is the principle front organization of a coalition of Islamist (or fundamentalist Muslim) groups that have taken root in America over the past two decades.” He says that “CAIR’s mission has differed from the others: its special assignment is the insinuation of the Islamist agenda into the mainstream American politics. Like the many front organizations established by the Soviet Union in its heyday, CAIR works to give a ‘white bread’ image to advocates of illiberal and even radical ideas.”[xxii]

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            [1]Hamas is listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Funding groups on the State Department list and U.S. institutions aiding organizations or individuals on these lists is prohibited by federal law.



21. ibid

[i].United States vs. Bayan Elashi et al, CR NO. 3:02-CR-052-R (District Court for the Northern Division of Texas, Dallas Division, 17 Dec. 2002).

[ii].Emerson, American Jihad; Haganah b’Internet’s listing of terror websites, http://haganah.us/. United States of America vs. Bayan Elashi et al.

[iii].McGonigle, Steven. “Aid push made for 5 tied to Hamas.” The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com/latestnews/stories/021503dnmetinfocom2.5f3e8.html. (15 February 2003).

[iv].Testimony of Steven Emerson (October 11, 2001).

[v].Matthew Epstein, “Wanting to Stay Sealed: Targets of Terrorism Probe Change their Plea Regarding Records.” The National Review, 19 March 2003. <http://www.nationalreview.com> (14 November 2003).

[vi].Steven Emerson, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us. 109-117.

[vii].ibid, 118.

[viii].ibid, 120-122.

[ix].ibid, 125.

[x].Stefanie Green, “Al-Arian’s hearing reviews case,” The (USF) Oracle, November 10, 2003 <http://www.usforacle.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/11/10/3faf98d355fe6> (25 November 2003).

[xi].”CAIR - The Council on American Islamic Relations: About CAIR,” http://www.cair-net.org/asp/aboutcair.asp

[xii].”The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States - 2002,” http://www.cair-net.org/civilrights2002/

[xiii].Nihad Awad. “Muslim-Americans in Mainstream America,” The Link, February-March 2000.

[xiv].Videotape. IAP Conference on Palestine. Mentioned in Testimony of Matthew Epstein at U.S. Senate.

[xv].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003).

[xvi].Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development vs. John Ashcroft in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States. Civil Action # 02-422.

[xvii].IRS Form 1023, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

[xviii].Treasury Department Office of Public Affairs. “Shutting Down the Terrorist Financing Network,” December 4, 2001.

[xix].Statement by Nihad Awad at a panel discussion, “The Road Map to Peace: the Challenge of the Middle East,” Barry University, March 22, 1994.

[xx].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003).

[xxi].Action Memorandum from Dale Watson, Assistant Director Counterterrorism Division FBI, to Richard Newcomb, Office of Foreign Assets Control. “Holy Land for Relief and Development International Emergency Economic Powers Act,” November 5, 2001.

[xxii].Khalid Duran, “How CAIR put my life in peril,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2002, <http://www.meforum.org/article/108> (20 November, 2003)


Avram Hein is a former research assistant at the American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), in Chevy Chase, MD. He is currently a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His most recent publication “Reflections on the Driving Teshuva” was published in the Spring 2004 edition of Conservative Judaism.


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