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CAIR's Good Servant, But Hillary's First By: John Perazzo
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 01, 2008

When Rep. Joe Sestak won his Congressional seat in November 2006, unseating Republican incumbent Curt Weldon, he was hailed as a new kind of Democrat. A retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, Sestak did not seem to conform to the mold of the doctrinaire leftist that has increasingly come to dominate his party. But in his brief time in office, the Pennsylvania Democrat has dashed any hopes that he could be a true independent. If anything, Sestak has proven to be the quintessential party hack. As such, he has lacked the courage to condemn radical groups that enjoy his party’s support. In 2007, for instance, Sestak accepted an invitation to speak at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a band of America-hating Islamo-supremacists posing as a “civil rights” group.

When some critics suggested that his decision to appear at the CAIR function was ill-advised, Sestak explained that he had accepted the invitation because he wished to support his local Muslim constituency, and because some 250 of the people who were expected to attend were residents of his own 7th District. “If they’re from my district, I will be there,” he said. “I’ve talked to this community many times and I will continue to do so.” Such an explanation gives no hint that Sestak remotely understands – or even cares about – the Council’s ties to radical Islamists.

Moreover, Sestak’s ties to CAIR extend well beyond his mere appearance at the aforementioned event. Indeed, Sestak hired the Communications Director of CAIR’s Pennsylvania office, Adeeba Al Zaman, as one of his congressional staffers. Though he interviewed Miss Zaman for the position on three separate occasions, Sestak claims never to have noticed any reference to CAIR on her resume.

A few months prior to being hired by Sestak, Zaman had been in Minnesota working to help Keith Ellison become the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. A December 2004 graduate of Rosemont College, Zaman reports that her
favorite course in school was “Policy Analysis of Cuba,” which allowed her to travel to Fidel Castro’s gulag for ten days to learn about its “human development policy.” In February 2006, Zaman lamented the infamous Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of a series of cartoons suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad endorsed terrorism. In Zaman’s calculus, the very fact that those cartoons had been published was evidence of the West’s “culture of intolerance and hatefulness,” akin to what “we saw in Germany in the 1930s.” “For Muslims in America and abroad,” she elaborated, “the cartoons appear to be evidence of the increasingly Islamophobic state of the world.”

In other words, Congressman Sestak hired, at taxpayer expense, an individual who is opposed in principle to the right of free speech, if that speech is critical of her faith and its practitioners. He also hired, at taxpayer expense, an official for an organization that seeks to dispense with the U.S. Constitution and to make Shari’a the law of the land.

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is precisely CAIR’s long-term intent. By hiring someone from CAIR, Sestak is tacitly indicating that he is either unaware of, or unconcerned by, such facts as these:

  • CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Ibrahim Hooper, Nihad Awad, and Omar Ahmad, all of whom were officials of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas’ recruitment arm in the United States.
  • CAIR opened its first office with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a self-described charity founded by Mousa Abu Marzook. In December 2001, the Bush administration seized all HLF assets because it had raised millions of dollars from Americans to fund Hamas.
  • Co-founder Nihad Awad candidly asserted at a 1994 meeting at Barry University, “I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.”
  • On February 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named CAIR Advisory Board member and New York imam Siraj Wahhaj as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in Omar Abdel Rahman’s foiled plot to blow up numerous New York City monuments. On June 6, 2006, CAIR's Ohio affiliate held a large fundraiser in honor of Wahhaj.
  • In October 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as “the sworn enemy.” According to CAIR, this depiction was “offensive to Muslims.”
  • In September 2003, CAIR's former Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, pled guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Federal investigators said that a group Khafagi founded, the Islamic Assembly of North America, had contributed money to terrorism-supporting activities and had published material supporting suicide attacks against the United States.
  • In April 2005, Ghassan Elashi, a founding Board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted of knowingly doing business with Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook, who was his brother-in-law.
  • In 2006 FBI agents raided the home of Muthanna al-Hanooti, one of CAIR’s directors, in connection with an active terrorism investigation.
  • Randall Todd Royer, who served as a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, worked for Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization that is listed on the State Department’s international terror list. He also was indicted on charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan.
  • Onetime CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was arrested on terrorism-related charges and was deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, which in October 2002 was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
  • During the 2005 trial of Sami Al-Arian, who was a key figure for Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the United States, Ahmed Bedier of CAIR’s Florida branch emerged as one of Al-Arian’s most vocal advocates.
  • In the aftermath of 9/11, federal agents raided the Washington-area home of CAIR civil rights coordinator Laura Jaghlit as part of a probe into terrorist financing, money laundering and tax fraud.
  • Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of CAIR's former directors, is a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for terrorism-related convictions.
  • CAIR board member Nabil Sadoun co-founded, along with Mousa Abu Marzook, the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), which, according to investigators, is a key Hamas front in America.
  • One of CAIR’s founding directors, Rafeeq Jaber, is a supporter of Hezbollah.
  • In 1998 CAIR sponsored a rally at Brooklyn College where Islamic militants exhorted the attendees to carry out “jihad” and described Jews as “pigs and monkeys.”
  • CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum as one of the Brotherhood's likeminded “organizations of our friends” who shared the common goal of conducting “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.

There is no excuse for a U.S. congressman to be ignorant of these facts. It is less acceptable for him to be indifferent to them.

But Joe Sestak is well practiced at skating evasively around even the most stubborn facts. Consider, for example, his slavish support for the presidential ambitions of Hillary Clinton. Shortly after Hillary claimed, falsely, to have narrowly evaded enemy fire during a 1996 trip (as First Lady) to Bosnia, Sestak, in an interview with Chris Matthews, defended Clinton by likening her “mistake” to the verbal miscues of some great Americans of yesteryear:

“Well, Chris, you’re a student of history,” said Sestak. “You remember when Teddy Roosevelt was running for president. He claimed he led the charge up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders. Actually, he didn’t. He went up Keaton Hill. And it turned out to be that was not true. You remember....”

Matthews interrupted: “But he [Roosevelt], in fact, faced enemy fire, and in fact, I read all about it, Admiral, and you did, too. He actually was in a firefight. Was Hillary Clinton ever under enemy fire? Did she ever duck and cover because of sniper fire ever in her life? That’s the question.”

Sestak’s reply: “No, and that’s what’s great about her. She said, Hey, I misspoke. I was mistaken. But let’s take all the incidences because the important issue here, Chris, is the whole cloth of the woman. You had Franklin Roosevelt, who when he ran for vice president, actually claimed he was a Latin American expert, and here he was, saying he wrote the constitution for Haiti. Or John F. Kennedy – he claimed that there was a missile gap, and he had Addison’s disease. The point is this, Chris. Would we have wanted them as President? You bet we would have.”

Sestak’s strained defense of Mrs. Clinton becomes easier to understand when one considers that he served as National Security Council Director for Defense Policy in the Bill Clinton administration. Not only that, but his 2006 congressional campaign received strong support from onetime Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, infamous for having stolen, in advance of the 9/11 Commission hearings in 2003, National Archive documents that characterized the Clinton administration’s anti-terrorism practices as woefully inadequate.

In March 2006, the same Sandy Berger held a fundraiser for Joe Sestak’s congressional campaign. The event raised tens of thousands of dollars for Sestak, whose spokesperson Allison Price was Director of Communications at Berger’s DC Consulting and Lobbying Firm. The venue for the fundraiser was the Washington, D.C. law office of attorneys Janice Enright (Treasurer of Hillary Clinton’s 2006 Senate campaign) and Harold Ickes, onetime Deputy Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton.

Ickes had been dubbed the “Director of Sanitation” in the Clinton White House because so much of his time was taken up with scandal-related damage control for President Clinton. “Whenever there was something that [Bill Clinton] thought required ruthlessness or vengeance or sharp elbows and sharp knees or, frankly, skullduggery, he would give it to Harold,” former Clinton advisor Dick Morris once told Vanity Fair.

Nor were Berger and Ickes the only controversial contributors to Sestak’s 2006 campaign. Among the more notable private donors to his congressional run were: Media Matters for America CEO David Brock; former Bill Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan; former Clinton counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke; former Democrat Senator Bob Kerrey; actor Edward Norton; comedienne Rosie O’Donnell; entertainer Barbra Streisand; billionaire financier George Soros; President Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick (who in the 1990s called for restrictions on information-sharing between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies involved in terrorism investigations, thereby hampering the government’s ability to derail terror plots like 9/11); and Norman Hsu (a businessman who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Clinton’s 2006 Senate campaign, causing Mrs. Clinton great embarrassment when it was learned that Hsu had been charged with fraud in California, and had illegally bundled donations to Clinton as a way of circumventing campaign-finance rules). The League of Conservation Voters also sent money to Sestak’s campaign.

All in all, Joe Sestak’s tenure in office is notable more for what he has not done, than for what he has done. He has not repudiated a group with demonstrated ties to Islamic extremism; in fact, he actually hired someone from that organization to work for him. He has not protested when his party allies fabricate dangers that they never faced. And he has not distanced himself from an admitted thief who endangered national security for purely political ends.

Small wonder, then, that he remains popular with his party’s partisan base. In Rep. Sestak, they recognize one of their own.

John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at WorldStudiesBooks@gmail.com

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