Federal agents are peeling away the layers of an extensive domestic terrorist support nexus, and some of America’s most politically active Muslim groups have been implicated in the process. On August 22nd, President Bush designated five charities and six senior Hamas officials as Special Designated Global Terrorist Entities (SDGTs), freezing their assets and barring financial transactions with US nationals. The move was in response to the August 19 suicide bombing that killed 21 Israelis, for which Hamas claimed responsibility. As US Treasury Secretary John Snow said, “Hamas’ leaders and those who provide their funding again have the blood of innocents on their hands.”
Musa Abu Marzook
Among the SDGTs named is Musa Abu Marzook, who currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau in Syria. Prior to working out of Syria, Marzook was responsible for establishing a major base of international financial and political support for Hamas—right here in the United States.
In 1981, Marzook founded the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) in Richardson, Texas. Throughout the decade, the organization featured Hamas terrorists and radical clerics as keynote speakers at its annual gatherings. The 1989 convention in Kansas City was addressed by a veiled terrorist who recounted the sabotaging of a bus that killed 16 people in Israel. One year later, at another IAP conference in Kansas City, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas were featured guests. FBI Counterterrorism chief Oliver Revell told The Washington Post on October 31, 1998 that, “IAP is a Hamas front…It’s controlled by Hamas, it brings Hamas leaders to the US, it does propaganda for Hamas.” The IAP remains active today.
The IAP was intimately linked with another Richardson-based Hamas front, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. On December 4, 2001, the Federal Government froze the assets of the HLF, with Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill stating, “The Holy Land Foundation masquerades as a charity, while its primary purpose is to fund Hamas.” Tax records show that Marzook made a one time cash donation of $210,000 to the HLF in 1993.
One of the IAP’s most prominent spinoffs is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). A vehement critic of the Bush administration’s policies in the war on terror, CAIR was formed by two IAP officials, Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, the latter of whom has openly pledged his support for Hamas. Ghassan Elashi, founder of the Texas branch of CAIR, also served as Chairman of the Holy Land Foundation. Nonetheless, CAIR continues to speak on behalf of moderate Muslims in the US, and has been granted meetings with high-level administration officials.
Musa Abu Marzook was identified as a Hamas operative in 1995 and detained by authorities while the US mulled over an Israeli extradition request. Although a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that Marzook should be extradited, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dropped the request, fearing retaliatory attacks. The US then deported Marzook to Jordan in 1997. Hamas leaders kept in contact with Marzook during his detention through operative lawyer Stanley Cohen, who said after the 9/11 attacks that he would represent Osama bin Laden. After arriving in Jordan it was not long before Marzook reassumed his leadership position in Syria.
Hamas officials were not the only ones looking out for Musa Abu Marzook while he was in US custody. Muslims for a Better America, a self-described sister organization of the American Muslim Council joined with CAIR and the IAP to protest the court-ordered extradition. In a press statement released by the Marzook Legal Fund, the groups lamented, “the concern that our judicial system has been kidnapped by Israeli interests.”
President Bush’s designation of Marzook as a global terrorist leaves no doubt that American Muslim groups like IAP and CAIR that he helped to create are fundamentally based on extremist ideologies and form an integral part of an international terrorist support network. It should be no surprise that these groups routinely defend those who commit such egregious acts and attack the policies that are designed to prevent them.
The investigation into Marzook’s financial activities in the United States has cast light on another individual intimate with links to terrorist entities and “mainstream” American Muslim groups alike. Soliman S. Biheiri is the founder of BMI, Inc., a now-defunct Islamic Investment firm under federal investigation for ties to designated terrorist entities. Earlier this month, Biheiri was indicted on immigration charges that he provided false information for his residency application. One terrorist entity with links to Biheiri is Musa Abu Marzook, an investor in BMI.
BMI’s chief investor was Yasin Qadi, named an SDGT in October 2001 for his financial support of Hamas and al-Qaeda. The designation was primarily the result of Qadi’s relationship with Mohammad Salah, who plead guilty to being a Hamas operative in Israel in 1995. Salah was employed at the Quranic Literary Institute in suburban Illinois in 1991 when Qadi transferred $820,000 to the group. The money was then invested in real estate, and the profits were directed to Salah. Although Qadi has maintained his innocence, the Wall Street Journal reported in November 2002 that bank records show a direct transaction of $27,000 from Qadi to Salah in March of 1992.
BMI also accepted substantial funding from Sana-Bell, Inc., a US charity founded by the Saudi-based International Islamic Relief Organization. Corporate documents list Yaqub Mirza as a registered agent of Sana-Bell. Mirza, whose Virginia offices were raided by Federal agents in March of 2002, is suspected of being a key financier of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda, funneling money through several of his investment firms including Sterling Management, the SAAR foundation, and SAFA trust.
Soliman Biheiri was a founding member of Ptech, a Boston-based computer software firm raided by US customs officials in December, 2002. That investigation was launched after Ptech associates expressed concern that the company was tied to terrorist funding. Yasin Qadi and Biheiri’s BMI, Inc. were two primary financiers of Ptech. Moreover, the company’s chief scientist and board member, Hussein Ibrahim, came to the company from BMI.
Biheiri is a member of the Advisory Board of the American Muslim Council. That’s bad news for the Bush administration, since Presidential political strategist Karl Rove has gone to great lengths to pander to terrorist-support groups like the AMC. Since September 11th, the American Muslim council has been afforded meetings with top administration officials including President Bush, Karl Rove and FBI Director Robert Mueller. In June, 2002, the FBI Director’s spokesman Bill Carter stated that the FBI considers the AMC to be, “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States.”
Despite gaining high-level political access, the AMC has done nothing to curb its extremist rhetoric. AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi has pronounced his support for Hamas and Hezbolla, and Executive Director Eric Vickers stated in a June 27, 2002 “Hardball with Chris Matthews” appearance on MSNBC that al-Qaeda was, “involved in a resistance movement.”
The AMC, along with other “mainstream” groups like CAIR, have gone to great lengths to oppose government initiatives in the war on terror. As investigations into individuals like Soliman Biheiri become public, it becomes increasingly apparent that these groups are not fighting a noble, disinterested battle to protect ordinary Muslim Americans, but instead struggling to keep their own illicit connections with terrorists concealed.
Randall Todd Royer
On Monday August 25th, three Northern Virginia men pleaded guilty to conspiracy and gun charges for their role in plotting to join the designated terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. Yong Ki Kwon, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, and Donald T. Surratt are three members of an eleven-member terrorist network that attended overseas terrorist training camps in Pakistan and trained for jihad on paintball courses in Virginia.
The other eight men have all entered pleas of not guilty, including Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer who served as the ringleader of the group, arranging sponsorship for several of the men to travel abroad as he had done before. Royer has been candid about his role in aiding Bosnian Muslim forces during the 1990’s and contributing to Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terrorist campaign to retake the Kashmir region from India.
When he wasn’t abroad aiding Jihadists, Royer was employed at the AMC, CAIR, and the Muslim American Society. Though his former employers have remained unusually silent-- usually they howl in protest when the Feds arrest terror suspects-- Royer sought legal defense not from a professional defense lawyer, but from Hamas lawyer Stanley Cohen.
When the man who once said he would defend Osama bin Laden is defending a former AMC and CAIR employee; when an AMC board member is under federal investigation for his company’s illicit ties to terrorists; when founding members of American Muslim organizations become designated terrorists, we must ask ourselves how much longer we can continue to believe the claim that such groups represent the interests of America’s moderate Muslims, and whether the Bush administration should continue to give them a political avenue to further their dangerous agenda.