CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations was created by those with deep ties to Hamas. CAIR’s anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian terror beginnings are still being realized today. One place where this extremism exists in a big way is within CAIR’s Florida chapter. At the end of April, CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly promoted a video on social media lauding Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a “hero.” For Shibly, this type of radical activity is far from out of the ordinary.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was created in June 1994 by an umbrella group led by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, called the Palestine Committee. CAIR was later named by the US government as a co-conspirator in federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. CAIR had used its official website to raise money for the defendant in the trials, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). Several CAIR representatives have served jail time or have been deported for terror-related activity, including former HLF head and founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter, Ghassan Elashi.
CAIR’s Florida chapter reflects the same violence-driven extremism of its parent organization. In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where attendees repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas,” “Let’s go Hamas,” and “Hamas kicked your ass.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, wrote in Arabic, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Leading CAIR-Florida, at the time of the Miami pro-Hamas rally, was (and still is) CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly.
Shibly has a lengthy record of bigoted rhetoric and extremist behavior. In August 2014, he tweeted that “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God.” In November 2006, after the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Shibly told his university’s publication that Hezbollah was “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization.”
In November 2016, Shibly retweeted a tweet first published by the Palestinian Information Center, the media arm of Hamas, which publishes Hamas communiques, gruesome anti-Semitic cartoons, and praise for murders of Israelis. The tweet included a video of the Arab-Israeli member of Knesset (Parliament) Ahmad Tibi reciting the Azan (Islamic call to prayer) in front of the Israeli Knesset. Tibi, like Shibly’s comment about Hezbollah, has stated, “I never use the expression ‘terrorist organization,’ when talking about Hamas. You will never hear those words out of my mouth.”
Shibly also appears to be an admirer of the extremist cleric Khalid Yasin, who, during a 2005 interview, stated the following about non-Muslims and homosexuals: “There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend. If you prefer the clothing of the kafirs over the clothing of the Muslims, most of those names that’s on most of those clothings is faggots, homosexuals and lesbians.”
In September 2014, then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly pointed out on her show that, for at least four years, Shibly has referred to himself as a “fan” of Yasin on his Facebook page. Shibly has targeted gays himself. In May 2009, Shibly wrote on Facebook, “Pre-Marital Sex and Homosexuality are quick ways to earn God’s wrath.”
On April 30, 2017, Shibly once again showcased his extremism, when he promoted a video on his Facebook page lauding convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a “hero.” Barghouti, who is currently leading a hunger strike from an Israeli prison, is the former leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah and a group that is on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). In June 2004, Barghouti was sentenced to five life terms for the murders of four Israelis and a Greek monk. At the time of his arrest, Barghouti had been charged with nearly two dozen other murders.
The video on Shibly’s page was produced by Al-Jazeera’s AJ+, and it featured Barghouti’s son, Aarab, who created a campaign, titled ‘Saltwater Challenge,’ as a way to stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. According to Aarab, “the prisoners have been living only on saltwater,” though Israel has released footage of his father, Marwan, eating from his prison cell.
According to the video, Barghouti was imprisoned not for all the innocents whose murders he had been involved in, but “for his role in resisting the Israeli occupation.” With his father’s arms stretched upwards and his hands flashing the “Victory Sign,” Aarab states on the video, “I know he’s a hero to Palestinian people.”
CAIR-Florida and its leader, Hassan Shibly, are both proof that CAIR’s roots in Palestinian terror continue to this day. Given its history and present, is there any reason for CAIR or its Florida offspring to still be in existence?