by Joe Kaufman
When someone linked to the ’93 bombing of the World Trade Center is a featured speaker at a fundraiser sponsored by a group created by Hamas operatives and run by a Hezbollah defender, one could easily surmise that the function described would be taking place in the Middle East. Yet, this event, which was held this past weekend and raised a large amount of money, took place in a major American city, Tampa, Florida.
On the night of Saturday, November 23rd, the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) sponsored a fundraising banquet featuring what should be considered highly controversial figures from the Muslim community. One of these individuals was an imam who goes by the name of Johari Abdul-Malik.
Abdul-Malik is the Outreach Director of Falls Church, Virginia’s Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center. He was brought in to head the mosque, after his predecessor, Anwar al-Awlaki, left the United States to become al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen. And shortly before Awlaki became the mosque’s imam, Hamas fundraiser Mohammad al-Hanooti held the position. [Today, al-Hanooti is listed on al-Hijrah’s website as the center’s Mufti.] According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, al-Hijrah itself has been considered by federal law enforcement officials to be a front for Hamas.
Since Abdul-Malik has been employed by al-Hijrah, he has supported and/or defended a number of convicted terrorists. They include: Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison, in part for his role in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a former al-Hijrah teacher and camp counselor, who is serving a life prison sentence for providing material support to al-Qaeda and for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush; and Ali al-Timimi, who received a life prison sentence for instructing his Northern Virginia followers to wage war on the United States.
Another of the featured speakers at CAIR-Tampa’s Saturday banquet was the imam of Brooklyn, New York’s at-Taqwa Mosque, Siraj Wahhaj.
In 1995, Wahhaj was named by the United States government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial dealing with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an act which resulted in the deaths of six innocent Americans. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
This was not the first time CAIR has brought Wahhaj in as a speaker for one of its affairs, so CAIR’s representatives can’t make the excuse that they didn’t know about his insidious background. Indeed, Wahhaj has spoken at a large number of CAIR events and has previously served as a member of CAIR-National’s Board of Advisers.
In reality, no one can expect CAIR to vet terror-related speakers, when the group itself has been, in large part, associated with terrorism.
CAIR was founded in June 1994 as a part of an umbrella organization led by then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” by the U.S. Justice Department for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The three original founders of CAIR, one of which is still the national Executive Director, were coming from the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the then-American propaganda wing of Hamas. CAIR had used its website to raise funds for the then-American financing arm of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
Hassan Shibly is the Executive Director of CAIR-Tampa. In June 2011, the Tampa Tribune reported on previous statements Shibly had made regarding Hezbollah. Shibly had stated that Hezbollah was “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” In 1983, Hezbollah perpetrated a suicide attack which resulted in the murders of 241 American troops stationed in Beirut, Lebanon. Today, Hezbollah is involved with the government of Bashar al-Assad in the mass slaughter of Syrian civilians.
Terrorism creates fear in itself. That’s its purpose. But the fact that a group associated with such acts of horror could raise so much money inside the United States should put the fear in all of us.
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