Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the new deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a plan to recruit additional Muslim lawmakers like him -- including possible candidates sponsored by a terror-tied Islamist group for which he helped raise millions of dollars, according to a source who once prayed alongside him in the basement of the Capitol.
Ellison has held Friday, or jummah, prayers with other Muslims, including staffers from the Congressional Muslim Staff Association and officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in a prayer room, or musallah, in the lower level of the Capitol building.
CAIR has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terrorist-funding operation.
A former CAIR intern who prayed with Ellison says Ellison once boasted that his breaking of the Muslim barrier on the Hill would usher in dozens of other Muslim lawmakers like him, and that he had an election-by-election vision for increasing their ranks.
“In the summer of 2008, I was working as an intern at CAIR,” Chris Gaubatz recalled in an exclusive interview with FrontPageMagazine.com. “During a Friday prayer at the Capitol Building, Ellison was talking about the second Muslim congressman being elected (Andre Carson) and said, “Insha’allah (Allah willing), next election we will have four Muslim congressman, and insha’allah, after that eight, and insha’allah, after that 16.’ ”
He said he also envisioned a Congressional Muslim Caucus that would rival the Black Caucus in size and influence, and push for “Muslim-friendly public policies,” such as gutting the Patriot Act, criminalizing the profiling of Muslims in terrorism investigations, and preventing the surveillance of mosques.
Ellison’s vision did not play out, as Democrats lost control of Congress to Republicans.
But at Saturday’s DNC elections, Tom Perez, who edged out Ellison as chairman of the committee, broke with party rules and named Ellison deputy chairman, creating a new position at the DNC. The DNC leadership controls spending priorities, organization and messaging for Democrats, as well as influences the recruitment and training of candidates.
“We have to recruit the right kind of candidates,” Ellison asserted in a recent DNC candidate forum.
Known as “CAIR’s congressman,” Ellison has spoken at several CAIR events, including national fundraising dinners held by the group in 2007, 2008 and 2014, when Ellison was awarded the group’s highest honor.
CAIR, in turn, helped Ellison raise tens of thousands of dollars for his congressional campaigns. Internal CAIR memos obtained by the bestseller, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” also show that CAIR provided Ellison “phone sheets” from its database of Muslim voters to help get out the vote for him in his Minneapolis district, which includes a growing Somali community that a federal judge recently warned harbors a large "terrorist cell.”
The FBI has banned CAIR from both national and local outreach activities held by the bureau, pending further investigation into its terrorism ties.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and intern Chris Gaubatz in 2008 (Courtesy Paul Sperry).