On October 26th, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 19th annual fundraising banquet at the Marriott Coral Springs Hotel. The group’s featured speaker for the event was United States Representative Ilhan Omar. During her talk, Omar made light of the issue of terrorism. This, while a group gathered outside the hotel, led by this author, rallying against CAIR’s ties to terrorism and Omar’s spread of anti-Semitism.
Congresswoman Omar is a controversial and divisive figure. Since taking office at the beginning of the year, she has used her position to target Israel and the Jewish community. In February 2019, attempting to convince people that Jews actively buy off politicians to support Israel, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Years prior, she wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
These statements and others like them have gained Omar a number of reprimands from her Congressional colleagues, including a number of people from her own Democratic Party, charging Omar with “anti-Semitism.” She was even called out for her bias by a renowned tennis icon, after she put out a tweet targeting newly announced Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, apparently for his being a Jew.
Omar’s assault on Jews has only been rivaled by her cavalier attitude towards terrorism. This past March, at another CAIR event held in California, Omar infamously described the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States as “some people did something.”
During the Florida CAIR event, Omar, once again, made light of the issue of terrorism by joking about people sharing pictures of her learning to be a terrorist. She stated, “Sure people might share pictures of you, in your adulthood, four years before you were even born, [laughing] learning to be a terrorist.” Indeed, there was an old photo, dated 1978, being circulated of a Somali woman resembling Omar who is handling a rifle at a military training facility, with the claim that it is Omar, herself, at an al-Qaeda camp.
While Omar’s statement may seem funny to some, the joke was made in front of a group – CAIR – that has serious and extensively documented associations to terrorism. CAIR was established, in June 1994, as an important part of a now-defunct umbrella organization led by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. CAIR has had a number of representatives convicted in and/or deported from the US for terror-related crimes, and according to the US Justice Department, CAIR has been involved in the financing of Hamas.
CAIR-Florida has not strayed far from its Hamas-founded parent organization. In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Miami, where attendees repeatedly screamed, “We are Hamas,” “Let’s go Hamas,” and “Hamas kicked your ass.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Zakkout, wrote in Arabic, “Thank God, every day, we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Apart from Omar, the CAIR banquet also featured as a speaker CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly. In August 2014, Shibly tweeted that “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God.” In November 2006, Shibly told his university’s publication that Hezbollah was “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” This past May, he met at his Tampa CAIR headquarters with convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Hatem Naji Fariz, who according to the Department of Justice, “conspired to commit offenses against the United States.” Shibly, himself, for many years, has been on the US government’s terrorist watch list.
Another CAIR leader appearing at the banquet was CAIR-Florida Communications Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz. Ruiz, too, has an anti-Semitism problem. In April 2010, Ruiz wrote a piece bashing the Jewish Talmud, using exaggerated and horrifically false libels. In it, Ruiz cites the website, talmudunmasked.com, an anti-Jewish conspiratorial site run by those who claim that Jews perpetrated 9/11. Besides his involvement with CAIR, Ruiz is the legal advisor for the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), a group that has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for promoting white supremacist icon David Duke.
CAIR, its Florida subsidiary, and its leadership represent a violent and incendiary hatred of Israel, Jews and Western values. It is really the perfect venue for Congresswoman Omar to speak at, as both she and CAIR embrace the same bigoted ideology.
As I stated in my speech, at our rally outside the venue for the CAIR banquet, it will be a great day when Ilhan Omar no longer has the chance to defile our nation’s legislature and CAIR no longer exists. Until that time, we must be vigilant and vocal and continue to push back against the jihad being waged in our backyards.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.