On September 27, 2007, the head of the Michigan office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan), Dawud Walid, was presented with a “special recognition” award by the Mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Virg Bernero. This took place only two months after Walid publicly defended two terror-related charities and during a federal trial against leaders of another terror charity, for which CAIR was named a co-conspirator.
Michigan is home to a significant radical Islamist community. One of its shining stars is an individual by the name of Dawud Walid. His activity within extremist Muslim groups is a matter of record.
First and foremost, Walid is involved with CAIR-Michigan, as the organization’s Executive Director. CAIR recently was designated by the United States government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial that ran from July through October of 2007, which dealt with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. During the trial, the FBI provided testimony proving CAIR’s involvement with the former head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, in his American Palestine Committee.
As well, Walid is an active member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). Other members of NAIF include Mazen Mokhtar, an Al-Qaeda web designer who was indicted in April of 2007 for tax evasion and for filing false tax returns, and Siraj Wahhaj, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The President of NAIF is Omar Shahin, a former representative of two Hamas-related “charities,” KindHearts and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), both of which have been shut down by the U.S. government.
Furthermore, Walid is the assistant imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad. Formerly Muhammad’s Temple No. 1, the mosque has very close ties to the Nation of Islam (NOI) and its former Supreme Minister, Elijah Muhammad, whose picture adorns the inside of the mosque.
The mosque’s ties to NOI have not escaped Walid. In February of last year, he joined others, at a press conference to welcome the group and its overtly anti-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan, to Detroit. About Farrakhan’s appearance, Walid stated with great anticipation, “We have been told that Minister Farrakhan is going to be making a big announcement at this meeting.”
Walid, himself, has exhibited anti-Semitic tendencies, including an unending obsession with anything that resembles favor towards Israel. At a pro-Hezbollah rally, in August of 2006, he stated, “It is American tax dollars being used to pay for those bombs that are killing innocent civilians in Lebanon. We stand here as Americans to ask our administration to stop sending material-aid to this country [Israel].”
Also in August of 2006, on his blog, he described the anti-Israel screed written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, entitled ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,’ as a “groundbreaking paper.” He said that the two authors “illustrate how American foreign policy and interests have been adversely affected by blind allegiance to Israeli interests, which are not mutually exclusive.”
And in September of 2006, on his blog, he complained about how a group of blacks and Jews were meeting at what he considered to be a pro-Israel function. He stated, “Tonight in Detroit, the Fellowship of Israel and Black America (FIBA) will be holding an event to propagate the misnomer that African-Americans and Israelis have a natural connection whose interests are mutually exclusive… With Islam being the fastest growing religion among African-Americans and waning pro-Israeli sentiments within mainstream America, this organization reeks a marriage of political convenience.”
Walid’s hatred towards Israel seems to have been amplified by his support for charities alleged to be tied to anti-Israel terror groups.
On July 24, 2007, the American affiliate of Al-Mabarrat Association, a “charity” headed by the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Sayyid Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, was raided by the FBI. Fadlallah had previously been named a “Specially Designated Terrorist” by the U.S. Treasury Department, in June of 2004. Al-Mabarrat officials said that they were told by federal agents that the raid was related to criminal activity.
The day of the raid, Walid instructed his website viewers that, regardless of the U.S. government’s action, they were still able to donate to the group, as well as to another terror-related charity, Life for Relief and Development (LIFE), which was raided in September of 2006. He stated, “Al Mabarrat is still open for business like LIFE. [sic] Unfortantely, these charities may continue to have suspicion cast over them, and may never get their days in court to clear their names from suspicion. I repeat that it is still LEGAL to donate to Al-Mabarrat as well as LIFE.”
LIFE was raided less than two months after CAIR sent out an “Action Alert” asking people “to aid in collecting and sending [relief] supplies to LIFE.” The final destinations of the supplies were Lebanon and Gaza, where, at the time, Israel was battling Hezbollah and Hamas. LIFE has been a “partner” organization to numerous groups with terror ties, including Human Concern International, Jerusalem Fund, ICNA Helping Hand, Islamic Relief and Human Appeal International.
One of Walid’s predecessors, former CAIR-Michigan Executive Director and ex-PR Director of LIFE, Muthanna Al-Hanooti, was caught up in the raid, at which time investigators searched Al-Hanooti’s home and his office. Later, he would be arrested and indicted. According to court documents, whilst acting as an unregistered agent for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), Al-Hanooti coordinated trips by US Congressmen to Iraq, paid for by LIFE, with the intention of influencing these individuals to support policies that were against U.S. interests.
Following the raid, Walid represented LIFE in a press conference questioning the motives of the FBI with regard to the raid. A photo of himself at the press conference, surrounded by LIFE logos, can be found on Walid’s site. He said that the raid was part of a “bogus situation” for Muslims in America.
One month prior to the Al-Mabarrat raid, Walid gave a speech at the American Moslem Society (a.k.a. Masjid Dearborn), titled ‘Know Your Rights,’ whereby he instructed the center’s congregants on ways in which to avoid the FBI. During the lecture, he uttered the following irresponsible statement: “We should obey the laws of the United States of America, except when those laws bar us from those things that are obligations [of] our religion.”
With all of the above, one would imagine that Walid would be shunned by those in power, by those that have taken an oath to represent all the people. Yet, on September 27, 2007, the opposite occurred. Walid was honored with an award from the Mayor of Lansing, Virg Bernero.
The reception of this award from Mayor Bernero took place at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where Walid was giving a speech, ironically titled ‘Building Bridges.’ The event was the City of Lansing’s first annual Unity Iftar Program. As this author writes, every page of Dawud Walid’s blog contains a photograph of himself holding up the award, with Bernero by his side, to remind us of this travesty.
This was not the first time that a leader from CAIR was presented with an award. In December of 2006, the office of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) gave a certificate of achievement for “outstanding service” to the Executive Director of CAIR-Sacramento, Basim Elkarra. However, when Senator Boxer learned of CAIR’s ties to terrorism, she quickly moved to rescind the award, admitting that she had “made a mistake.”
It is time for Mayor Bernero to admit that he, too, has made a mistake. Mayor Bernero needs to withdraw the honor that he has carelessly bestowed upon Walid. It is one thing to support the diversity of one’s community. It is yet another to recognize the worst elements of that diversity with anything but enmity.
Hatred and terror should never be rewarded.
Readers of this piece are encouraged to contact Mayor Bernero to respectfully express their thoughts on this matter.