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CAIR: How Close to Terrorism? By: Andrew Whitehead and Lee Kaplan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The conviction of a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) state operative is but the latest apparent link between that Islamist organization and Islamist terrorism. On April 13, 2005, Ghassan Elashi, founder of the group's Texas chapter (CAIR-Texas) – as well as longtime associate of CAIR's top leadership and beneficiary of CAIR fundraising and support – was convicted of laundering money for Islamic terrorist organizations from November 1995 through April 2001.
Dating back to the early 1990s, Elashi had close ties to CAIR's leaders
Bassam Khafagi, Imam Siraj Wahaj, and Randall Todd "Ismail" Royer, former civil rights coordinator and communications specialist for the "Muslim civil rights group."

Elashi founded CAIR’s Texas chapter sometime before October 2000. (CAIR-Texas first appeared as an affiliate on the CAIR national website at that time.) Therefore, it is evident Elashi was a high-ranking CAIR official at the time he committed the pro-terrorist crimes for which he was convicted. 

Elashi's conviction is bad news for CAIR. Its ties with Elashi are too deep and the evidence of CAIR's complicity too obvious for CAIR to spin. For example, j
ust after the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11, the CAIR website contained a section entitled, "What you can do for the victims of the WTC and Pentagon attacks," which solicited contributions to the "NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund." The only problem was, this so-called "Relief Fund" never existed. The link provided by CAIR led the would-be contributor directly to
the Holy Land Foundation website. The Holy Land Foundation, a government-designated terrorist front group, was also shut down by the U.S. government for funding terrorism overseas. The trial of its leadership is scheduled to begin next year.

And just who was the head of the Holy Land Foundation? Elashi.

A coincidence? Not likely.
However, that will not mean CAIR will immediately admit the connection

Consider CAIR’s reaction when a CAIR official was questioned about former CAIR Randall Royer on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” TV program:

HANNITY: Did you not have a spokesman for your group at one time, a guy by the name of Royer that was on your staff that was convicted?

BEDIER: I think several years ago we had that individual in our group. And if you're inciting that somehow we're responsible for the actions or behavior of the individuals after they left our organization, that would be similar to somebody that worked for FOX five years ago and then commits a crime and FOX would be responsible for it.

In fact, Royer was an active official in CAIR at the time he committed his crimes. This exchange is classic: When you can’t dispute the facts, fib and hope the person you’re talking to doesn’t catch you. In this case, Hannity didn’t pursue the matter, and Bedier got away with it. 

Dr. Parvez Ahmed, went a step farther, implying that statements against CAIR are subject to SLAPP lawsuits or other legal action:

People who make statements connecting CAIR to terrorism should understand the legal consequences of their attempted slander and defamation. The First Amendment does not protect defamation.

Once again, we see that CAIR clouds the issue of its possible complicity in Islamic terrorism with none-too veiled threats against those who attempt to call them to account. Why can’t CAIR stand on the facts? Simple: the facts plainly do not support CAIR’s story.

CAIR has consistently shown sympathy for overseas terrorist groups and their activities. In fact, CAIR’s actions led Senator Charles Shumer, D-NY, to declare, "We know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism." CAIR’s Jordanian-born Executive Director, Nihad Awad, has openly stated, "I am a supporter of the Hamas movement." Awad was also the former public relations director of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), a known front group for Hamas. At a Washington, D.C., CAIR rally, CAIR spokesman Dr. Ghazi Khankan openly greeted attendees by saying, "I bring to you salaams and greetings from the Mujahadeen at CAIR!” (Mujahadeen are holy warriors such as those killing U.S. and Coalition soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.)


CAIR’s apparent ties to terrorism go beyond the merely rhetorical. Authorities have linked Randall Royer with al-Qaeda. On page 15 of the federal indictment of eleven Islamist terrorism suspects, it is charged:


On or about April 4, 2001, at the residence of IBRAHAM AHMED AL-HAMDI in Alexandria, Virginia, a visitor representing the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), another “Islamic charity” closed down for funding terrorism by the US government, discussed a Mujahadeen camp in Bosnia with Nabil T. Garbieh and other conspirators.


Last February, the FBI searched the northern Virginia home of an Islamic scholar and teacher named Ali al-Timimi, and the homes of his students, Nabil Garbieh and al-Hamdi. The warrants said they were seeking evidence that the men and another conspirator named Kwon had provided “material support of terrorism or foreign terrorist groups.” The group became known as the “paintball terrorists,” allegedly because they were training with weapons in paintball competitions for combat practice to gain experience to become Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, where they would wage jihad against U.S. forces alongside the Taliban.


The indictment continues: “On or about April 4, 2001, at the residence of IBRAHAM AHMED AL-HAMDI in Alexandria, Virginia, Nabil T. Garbieh and other conspirators watched videos depicting Mujahadeen engaged in Jihad.” In plain language, the government is alleging that the BIF, an Islamist terrorist supporting organization, held an organized meeting with the conspirators for the purpose of watching videos of Islamist terrorists in action. The conspirators’ alleged meeting with a BIF representative, the proven ties between BIF and al-Qaeda, and Randall "Ismail" Royer's connection to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), all point to the reasonable conclusion that when domestic Islamist terrorists are plotting their murderous designs, CAIR is never far away. 


For now, CAIR remains in the Islamist guilt-mongering business – and business is good. CAIR still poses as a “civil rights” group and even provides “sensitivity” training for FBI agents in how to deal with Muslims. FBI chief Robert Mueller was embarrassed enough to return a “humanitarian award” given him by CAIR. Congress and the President are still lobbied by CAIR.

The group known as “Anti-CAIR” (ACAIR) believes that CAIR, Elashi, and other CAIR officials, directors, and employees have combined, conspired, and made common ground with Islamic terrorist individuals and groups. Terrorist expert Steve Emerson
testified before Congress that CAIR is a front group for Hamas, as well. Furthermore, ACAIR believes that CAIR's proven ties to the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), and its support for Elashi, Holy Land Foundation, and other Islamic terrorist groups clearly show CAIR's true colors.
In light of all these facts, why would any media organization, politician, or government agency ever solicit CAIR's opinion? With Elashi’s going to prison, and the Holy Land Foundation about to go to trial, it begs the question: Are federal prosecutors closing in on CAIR? We can only hope that should a terrorist connection be irrefutably proven, we can all look forward to the closing of CAIR in the United States.


To our knowledge, CAIR has never officially condemned Royer, disassociated itself from his actions, or otherwise taken steps to ensure its employees comply with the laws against supporting terrorism. Some question whether its financial management procedures are in compliance with the recommended U.S. Treasury Department guidelines. We believe CAIR will follow their performance with Royer in this latest scandal with Ghassan Elashi – deny its association with the terrorist, but continue its questionable associations.

Andrew Whitehead is the Director of Anti-CAIR (ACAIR) a watchdog agency that monitors the activities of CAIR. Lee Kaplan is a contributing editor at Front Page.

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