IPT Exclusive: IPT Obtains Letters of Support to Hamas Front Group From 101 Elected Lawmakers

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Source: Investigative Project on Terrorism, by Steven Emerson, November 1, 2018

If the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stuck to its stated mission statement and only did civil rights work protecting Muslim Americans from discrimination and bigotry, you likely would never see it mentioned on this site.

But CAIR has a second, perhaps more paramount objective that it never directly acknowledges: To oppose Israel and promote Palestinian nationalism.

CAIR’s mission statement makes no mention of Palestine. Instead, it says it aims to “enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.” It describes its lobbying arm as focusing “on issues related to Islam and Muslims. The department monitors legislation and government activities and responds on behalf of the American Muslim community.”

But a review of CAIR’s activities shows a significant amount of time is spent on pushing Palestinian narratives, while never addressing Hamas’s obsession with pursuing terrorism at the expense of Palestinian civilians, or the Palestinian Authority’s ceaseless rhetoric fomenting hatred.

That’s especially true in times of conflict. CAIR also routinely teams with groups devoted to opposing Israel’s very existence. It should not be surprising to those familiar with CAIR’s origin story. It was created by a Muslim Brotherhood-run Hamas support network in the United States. Witnesses told the FBI that supporting Hamas was its mission from the start.

CAIR’s FBI imagery instills fear and suspicion.

CAIR officials also have spent years casting the FBI as an imminent threat to the Muslim community, depicting agents as dark figures lurking outside their doors, as willing to threaten, lie and even break the law just to set up innocent Muslims, and as cold-blooded murderers. CAIR reflexively dismisses counter-terrorism indictments as entrapment.

Despite these facts, too many people remain ignorant to CAIR’s full slate of activities. CAIR takes advantage of this situation by using the visibility and influence its civil rights work provides to pursue its foreign policy aims.

That was made abundantly clear at CAIR’s recent national banquet and fundraiser outside Washington, D.C. The Oct. 19 event drew letters of support and congratulations from 101 elected officials and candidates, nearly all Democrats. That group includes 17 U.S. senators, including likely presidential candidates Cory Booker of New Jersey and California’s Kamala Harris. Other prominent Democratic senators signing salutation letters to CAIR include Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Florida’s Bill Nelson, 2016 vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine from Virginia and New Jersey’s Robert Menendez.

Missing from the list is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, whom we called out in 2016 for a similar endorsement.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism obtained a copy of the booklet containing all the letters, which can be seen here. Many of the letters use similar language, likely supplied by CAIR. Most note the event and praise the organization for its civil rights and anti-bigotry work.

“As our country faces new threats to civil rights,” wrote Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, III, “it is crucial that active participation in our democracy be protected and allowed to prosper. CAIR’s efforts to provide American Muslims a voice in the public square and encourage civic engagement are vital as we work to unite against all forms of hate.”

Next to his signature, Kennedy hand wrote, “Many thanks for all you do.”

That note indicates Kennedy knew he was signing an endorsement of CAIR. But elected officials receive countless requests for salutations every month and the responses traditionally are handled by staff members. It’s unclear how many of the members of Congress knew they endorsed CAIR.

As we noted in the 2016 story about Schumer, the New York senator expressed concern about CAIR’s ties to terrorists as far back as 2003 and advocated a government cut-off of communication with the group. And in 2009, Schumer joined Republican colleagues Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) in asking FBI officials why they had enacted that very policy the previous year.

“We certainly support that action,” the senators wrote, “and it would be helpful to understand the situation more fully.”

Evidence collected during a Hamas-financing investigation connected CAIR and its founders within a Hamas-support network in the United States called the Palestine Committee, an FBI response said. “[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”

The policy remains in effect, but somehow, dozens of members of Congress are comfortable endorsing CAIR anyway, or haven’t made it clear to their staffs to steer clear of a group which might have Hamas ties.

We’ve written exhaustively about CAIR’s pro-Hamas/Palestine Committee connections. Here are some key points:

· CAIR appears on a list of Palestine Committee entities written the month of CAIR’s founding.

· At least three CAIR officers, including Executive Director Nihad Awad, appear in a Palestine Committee telephone roster. The Palestine Committee’s mission was to “to support Hamas from abroad,” the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found.

· The FBI described Omar Ahmad, a CAIR co-founder along with Awad and a longtime past national CAIR chairman, as “a leader within the [Palestine] Committee” and internal records show he was one of the committee’s executives.

CAIR has never directly addressed these, and many other connections, or even tried to claim that it moved away from its past.

A look at CAIR’s activities shows why. The organization continues to lobby against Israel for every element of the conflict with Palestinians, and many of its chapter leaders express a blind hate for the Jewish state. San Francisco chapter director Zahra Billoo has repeatedly compared the Israeli military to ISIS. Los Angeles chapter director Hussam Ayloush has, too, in addition to angrily claiming that asking him about Hamas was an act of hatred since he works for “a civil rights organization we’re not here in the business of being dragged into the Middle East affairs and the conflicts of the Middle East.”

In rare moments of candor, CAIR officials say what they’re really all about. During a 2014 rally for convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmieh Odeh, CAIR’s Michigan chapter director Dawud Walid described CAIR as “defenders of the Palestinian struggle.”

CAIR partners with groups like American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which has clear ties to the old Palestine Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and other groups which seek Israel’s elimination. In May, for example, CAIR joined AMP and JVP in protesting outside Booker’s and Menendez’s offices demanding they condemn Israel’s response to Palestinian riots at the Gaza border. The protesters went home disappointed.

Nearly all the casualties from the violence were members of Hamas or other terrorist groups.

During a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza triggered by Hamas rocket fire and the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, CAIR and its San Francisco chapter published a primer on how to help Palestine. It included calls to attend rallies and contact members of Congress to discuss “our country’s complicity in the ongoing attack on Palestine.”

During a similar conflict in 2009, also sparked by Hamas rocket fire at Israeli civilian communities, Awad spoke at a news conference at the National Press Club, demanding “the U.S. government, take immediate steps to end the immoral and illegal Israeli bombardment of Gaza.” Ayloush issued a similar statement. Neither mentioned Hamas or called on the terrorist group to cease firing at Israeli cities and civilians.

Last December, CAIR – the purported American civil rights group, the one Ayloush insisted was “not here in the business of being dragged into the Middle East affairs and the conflicts of the Middle East” when it comes to addressing Hamas – joined AMP, SJP and other groups at a rally to oppose another foreign policy issue, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. To Awad, the move represented proof the U.S. placed the interests of another country over American interests.

Speaking in his capacity as CAIR executive director, he urged his audience to act:

“We cannot support the Palestinian people by just coming to Washington, D.C. and speaking at these rallies,” he said. “You know what’s next and what’s more important? You have to speak to your members of Congress, you have to meet with them …”

Everyone has the right to petition the government and have his or her voices heard. The issue here is CAIR’s deceptive marketing effort. It sells itself as a civil rights organization and does do aggressive work in that arena. But it all goes to building a platform that it uses to try to influence American public attitudes and policies in favor of Palestinians, and by extension, Hamas.

More than 100 members of Congress fell for CAIR’s ruse. In the end, whether it was out of ignorance or willful blindness doesn’t matter. They’ve enabled an organization born in a terror support network that continues to do the bidding of radical Islamists.

Here are the politicians who sent CAIR salutation letters:

Senator Doug Jones ( D )  AL
Representative Raul M. Grijalva ( D )  3rd district  AZ
Representative Adam Schiff ( D )  28th district  CA
Representative Alan S. Lowenthal ( D )  47th district  CA
Representative Ami Bera ( D )  7th district  CA
Representative Anna G. Eshoo ( D )  18th district  CA
Representative Barbara Lee ( D )  13th district  CA
Representative Doris O. Matsui ( D )  6th district  CA
Representative Eric Swalwell ( D )  15th district  CA
Representative Jared Huffman ( D )  2nd district  CA
Representative Jerry McNerney ( D )  9th district  CA
Representative Jim Costa ( D )  16th district  CA
Representative John Garamendi ( D )  3rd district  CA
Representative Juan Vargas ( D )  51st district  CA
Representative Judy Chu ( D )  27th district  CA
Representative Karen Bass ( D )  37th district  CA
Representative Linda T. Sanchez ( D )  38th district  CA
Representative Luis Correa ( D )  46th district  CA
Representative Mark DeSaulnier ( D )  11th district  CA
Representative Mark Takano ( D )  41st district  CA
Representative Mike Thompson ( D )  5th district  CA
Representative Nanette Barragan ( D )  44th district  CA
Representative Norma Torres ( D )  35th district  CA
Representative Pete Aguilar ( D )  31st district  CA
Representative Raul Ruiz ( D )  36th district  CA
Representative Ro Khanna ( D )  17th district  CA
Representative Salud Carbajal ( D )  24th district  CA
Representative Tony Cardenas ( D )  29th district  CA
Representative Zoe Lofgren ( D )  19th district  CA
Senator Kamala Harris ( D )  CA
Senator Michael F. Bennet ( D )  CO
Representative Elizabeth Etsy ( D )  5th district  CT
Representative Joe Courtney ( D )  2nd district  CT
Senator Christopher Murphy ( D )  CT
Senator Richard Blumenthal ( D )  CT
Representative Al Lawson ( D )  5th district  FL
Representative Alcee Hastings ( D )  20th district  FL
Representative Darren Soto ( D )  9th district  FL
Representative Stephanie Murphy ( D )  7th district  FL
Senator Bill Nelson ( D )  FL
Representative David Scott ( D )  13th district  GA
Representative John Lewis ( D )  5th district  GA
Representative Mike Quigley ( D )  5th district  IL
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi ( D )  8th district  IL
Representative Rodney Davis ( R )  13th district  IL
Senator Tammy Duckworth ( D )  IL
Representative Andre Carson ( D )  7th district  IN
Representative Susan Brooks ( R )  5th district  IN
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy ( D )  4th district  MA
Representative Katherine Clark ( D )  5th district  MA
Representative Michael Capuano ( D )  7th district  MA
Representative Seth Moulton ( D )  6th district  MA
Representative Anthony Brown ( D )  4th district  MD
Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger ( D )  2nd district  MD
Representative Elijah Cummings ( D )  7th district  MD
Representative Jamie Raskin ( D )  8th district  MD
Representative John Sarbanes ( D )  3rd district  MD
Senator Ben Cardin ( D )  MD
Senator Chris Van Hollen ( D )  MD
Candidate Rashida Tlaib ( D )  13th district  MI
Representative Debbie Dingell ( D )  12th district  MI
Representative Brenda Lawrence ( D )  14th district  Ml
Representative Daniel T. Kildee ( D )  5th district  Ml
Representative Betty McCollum ( D )  4th district  MN
Representative Keith Ellison ( D )  5th district  MN
Senator Amy Klobuchar ( D )  MN
Senator Tina Smith ( D )  MN
Representative Lacy Clay ( D )  1st district  MO
Representative David Price ( D )  4th district  NC
Senator Thomas Tillis ( R )  NC
Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. ( D )  9th district  NJ
Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman ( D )  12th district  NJ
Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. ( D )  10th district  NJ
Representative Donald Norcross ( D )  1st district  NJ
Representative Frank Pallone ( D )  6th district  NJ
Senator Corey Booker ( D )  NJ
Senator Robert Menendez ( D )  NJ
Representative Grace Meng ( D )  6th district  NY
Representative Paul Tonko ( D )  20th district  NY
Representative Yvette Clarke ( D )  9th district  NY
Representative Marcia L. Fudge ( D )  11th district  OH
Representative Marcy Kaptur ( D )  9th district  OH
Representative Tim Ryan ( D )  13th district  OH
Representative Dwight Evans ( D )  3rd district  PA
Representative Mike Doyle ( D )  18th district  PA
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson ( D )  30th district  TX
Representative Gene Green ( D )  29th district  TX
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee ( D )  18th district  TX
Governor Ralph Northam ( D )  VA
Representative Dave Loebsack ( D )  2nd district  VA
Representative Donald S Beyer Jr. ( D )  8th district  VA
Representative Gerald Connolly ( D )  11th district  VA
Senator Mark Warner ( D )  VA
Senator Tim Kaine ( D )  VA
Representative Adam Smith ( D )  9th district  WA
Representative Suzan Delbene ( D )  1st district  WA
Senator Patty Murray ( D )  WA
Representative Mark Pocan ( D )  2nd district  WI
Senator Tammy Baldwin ( D )  WI
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton ( D )  Washington D.C.