Why do some government officials insist on involving themselves with groups connected to terror?
The issue of terrorism is broadcast every day over the airwaves. Yet, so many of our government officials are clueless about it. How else would a leader from the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations – two groups singled out by the Justice Department for their involvement in the financing of Hamas – be invited to a sitting Governor’s State of the State Address? Regardless of the reason for the invitation, it was a dangerous oversight.
[For the purpose of this piece, I would like to state the definition of “unindicted co-conspirator,” per the Federal Courts Law Review (FCLR): “The term ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ refers to any person who allegedly ‘agreed with others to violate the law but who is not being charged with an offense and who, consequently, will not be tried or sentenced for his criminal conduct.’” An “unindicted co-conspirator” is exactly how it reads, a co-conspirator who has not been indicted.]
The Islamic Society of North America or ISNA held its most recent national convention – its 46th annual convention – in Washington, D.C., this past year in July. Participating at the event was the normal crop of Muslim radicals. They included Siraj Wahhaj, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Zulfiqar Ali Shah, the former South Asia Director of KindHearts, a Hamas fundraising group that was shut down by the FBI in February 2006; and Naeem Muhammad, a U.S. staff member of Islamic Relief, a “charity” that the Israeli government has claimed is a front for Hamas. The latter two participated as “Moderators.”
Another “Moderator” at the event was an individual by the name of Safaa Zarzour. At the time, he sat on the Board of Directors of ISNA as the Chairman of ISNA’s Council of Islamic Schools of North America (CISNA) and served as the Program Chair of the ISNA Education Forum. Today, he holds the lofty position of ISNA National Secretary General, as he was named as such last month. This is certainly no ‘badge of honor.’
ISNA is a function of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood overseas. Amongst ISNA’s founders is convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian, who established the group with alumni from the Muslim Students Association (MSA).
From May 2007 through November 2008, ISNA was named by the United States Justice Department as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for two federal trials dealing with the transfer of millions of dollars to Hamas. The defendants consisted of leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the now defunct American financing wing of Hamas created by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In the end, all of the defendants were found guilty of all charges.
ISNA is not the only co-conspirator from the HLF trial that Zarzour has associations with. He has also been involved with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); he was the founding Chairman of CAIR’s Chicago, Illinois office. CAIR-Chicago was established in November 2002, and Zarzour served the group as Chairman (President) through January 2009.
During the trial, the Justice Department showed proof that CAIR was one of four organizations that made up the American Palestine Committee, a Hamas umbrella organization set up and led by Marzook. The goal of the committee was to raise money for Hamas from American shores.
Through CAIR, Zarzour had come in contact with another of the HLF “unindicted co-conspirators,” the Imam and Director of the Mosque Foundation, Jamal Said. Located in Bridgeview, Illinois, the Mosque Foundation is the former spiritual center of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), CAIR’s parent organization that was shut down in 2005 after it was found liable for the May 1996 murder of American teen, David Boim, by Hamas.
It is because of CAIR’s connection to Hamas that the FBI recently made the decision to cut ties with the group – ties with CAIR’s national headquarters and all of its local chapters. According to reports, prior to the HLF trial, the FBI had “formal contact” with the group via “liaisons.”
However, regarding CAIR, it seems other government entities aren’t as concerned as the FBI. Indeed, just this past November, Zarzour received a community service award for “Outstanding Contributions to Chicago’s Arab Community” from the Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley.
And it was only last month that Zarzour was invited to attend Indiana Governor Mitch Daniel’s State of the State Address. A smiling picture of Zarzour with the Indiana State Assembly in the background is currently being propagated on ISNA’s national website.
Groups and individuals tied to terrorism have no place in the American governmental process – locally, statewide or nationally. Unfortunately, some government officials have given them a place. This, despite the myriad of evidence that is readily available to the public, let alone these officials themselves.
If CAIR is shunned by the FBI, isn’t it common sense that all government agencies and entities would follow suit? And if a leader of CAIR is now the head of ISNA, shouldn’t ISNA be shunned as well?
Beila Rabinowitz, the Director of Militant Islam Monitor, assisted with this report.