We have noted many times that the Department of Justice named the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a self-described civil rights group, as an unindicted co-conspirator in its prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and others for providing support to the terrorist group Hamas. But we missed the fact (I did, anyway) that the federal courts have now affirmed DOJ’s designation of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Initially, CAIR protested its inclusion on the government’s unindicted co-conspirator list. It moved before Federal Judge Jorge Solis, who tried the Holy Land Foundation case, to have its name, and those of the other unindicted parties, expunged from the government’s list. It also asked the court to find that its Fifth Amendment rights had been violated by the government’s public filing of the list.
Judge Solis issued an order in response to CAIR’s motion (and that of two other parties) on July 1, 2009. That order was not made public until it was affirmed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month. Now, in response to the 5th Circuit’s order, Judge Solis has unsealed his opinion; you can read it here.
Judge Solis found that the government should have filed the list of unindicted co-conspirators under seal, even though testimony in the trial itself that identified CAIR and the other parties was publicly available. However, Judge Solis denied CAIR’s motion to be expunged from the list on the ground that that the government had presented sufficient evidence at trial to justify CAIR’s designation as an undicted co-conspirator. Judge Solis’s summary of the evidence against CAIR and the other parties that joined in its motion was as follows. I apologize for the length of the quote, but on this sort of issue, detail is everything:
While the Court recognizes that the evidence produced by the Government largely predates the HLF designation date, the evidence is nonetheless sufficient to show the association of these entities with HLF [the Holy Land Foundation], IAP [the Islamic Association for Palestine], and Hamas.See U.S. v. Ladd, 218 F.3d at 704-05 (“the Government must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed”). Thus, maintaining the names of the entities on the List is appropriate in light of the evidence proffered by the Government.
Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA [the Islamic Society of North America], NAIT [the North American Islamic Trust], the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.) Government Exhibit 3-64, titled “Preliminary vision for preparing future leadership” and dated December 18, 1988, further ties ISNA to the Muslim Brotherhood by listing it as an “apparatus” of the Brotherhood. (Gov’t Ex. 3-64 (Elbarasse 4) at 5.)
During the early years of OLF/HLF’s operation, OLF raised money and supported Hamas through a bank account that it held with ISNA and NAIT. (Gov’t. Exhs. 5-1 through 5-14, 5-23 through 5-26, 5-42 (NAIT).) Indeed, OLF operated from within ISNA, in Plainfield, Indiana, where Defendant Baker was employed. (Gov’t. Exh. 5-6 (NAIT) at 3; 1-16 (HLF Search 14) at 20.) ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/NAIT account for OLF were often made payable to “the Palestinian Mujahadeen,” the original name for the Hamasmilitary wing. (Gov’t. Exh. 5-23 through 5-25 (NAIT); 1-174 (HLF Search 109).) From that ISNA/NAIT account, OLF sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, Nadia Elashi (Defendant Elashi’s cousin and Marzook’s wife), Sheikh Ahmed Yassin’s Islamic Center of Gaza, the Islamic University, and a number of other individuals associated with Hamas. (Gov’t. Exh. 20-55, 20-56 (OLF 1988-89 Disbursements).)
The Muslim Brotherhood supervised the creation ofthe “Palestine Committee,” which was put in charge of other organizations, such as HLF, IAP, UASR, and ISNA. (See Gov’t Ex. 3-15 (Elbarasse Search 5) at 14).The July 30, 1994 “Meeting Agenda for the Palestine Committee” lists IAP, HLF, UASR and CAIR as working organizations for the Palestine Committee. (Gov’t Ex. 3-78 (Elbarasse 19) at 6.) Government Exhibit 3-15, titled “Islamic Action for Palestine – An internal memo – October – 1992,” contains a section titled “Islamic Action for the Palestinian Cause in North America.” (Id.) That section states that
[w]hen . . . the Intifada started and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) was formed and the general apparatus for Palestine developed . . . a ‘Palestine Committee’ was formed under the supervision of the executive office [of the Muslim Brotherhood]. The Committee was then tasked with supervising all the organizations which serve the plan of the Movement domestically and internationally in addition to the Palestinian cause. Among these organizations were the ‘Islamic Association’ [the IAP], the ‘Occupied Land Fund,’ and the ‘United Association’ [the UASR]. Like other directors of the Movement’s committees and sections, the director of Palestine Committee is to submit periodical reports and adheres to the directions and the guidance of the leadership of the Group.
The Palestine Committee was also known as the “Central Committee,” or the Central Committee for Palestinian Activism in America. (See Gov’t Ex. 3-5 (Elbarasse Search 13) at 7.) Government Exhibit 3-17 is a document titled “Re: A suggestion to amend the bylaws of the Central Committee,” dated April 2, 1991. Articles 1 and 2 of the document state that the Palestine Committee will be called the Central Committee and it “originates from the Palestine Body formed by the Executive Office of the Muslim Brotherhood.” (Gov’t Ex. 3-17 (Elbarasse Search 7) at 8-9.) Article 4 states that the Central Committee is considered “the highest Shura and Executive authority in regards to work for the Palestinian cause on the American front . . .” (Id.) Article 4 goes on to state that the Committee is “focused on supervision and follow-up of all work and issues relating to the following fields: 1-Issues relating to the Islamic Association of Palestine . . . 2- Issues relating to the Occupied Land Fund . . . 3- Issues relating to the United Association for Studies & Research . . .” (Id.) In a later section, the International Shura Council and the Office of Guidance instruct to “collect[ ] donations for the Islamic Resistance Movement from the Ikhwan and others.” (Id. at 12.) Additionally, in Government Exhibit 3-1, an organizational chart titled “Central Committee Org. Chart for the Year 1991” lists OLF and UASR under the Central Committee. (Gov’t Ex. 3-1 (Elbarasse Search 10) at 1.))
Government Exhibit 3-5 is titled “Annual Report for the year 89-1990 Presented to the Organizational Conference.” (Gov’t Ex. 3-5 (Elbarasse Search 13) at 5.) It states that the Central Committee “is in charge of planning, directing and following up on all work related to and connected 3:04-CR-0240-P Order Page 18 of20 to the Group.” (Id. at 7.) The Central Committee “includes several committees and organizations, some of which are: The Islamic Association for Palestine, The Occupied Land Fund, The United Association for Studies & Research . . .” (Id.) The “Achievements” listed by the Palestine Committee include:
Twenty-three Intifada festivals have been held this year . . . Al Sakhra band participated in over 25 festivals during activities of the Association and the Fund [HLF] . . . The sum of $728,059.04 has been raised through the Occupied Land Fund to support the steadfastness of the people in the Inside. Most of the money has been transferred . . . Five books have been issued by the United Association for Studies & Research. They are currently being marketed to benefit the Intifada . . . The Studies office [UASR] has published 5 issues of Al Aqsa bulletins and 6 issues of the Striking Arms leaflets.
In Government Exhibit 3-1, a chart titled “Chart Outline for Palestinian Action Aspects” lists Ahmad (founder of CAIR) under the UASR, and indicates that he is in charge of the Studies & Research Office. (Gov’t Ex. 3-1 (Elbarasse 10) at 4-5.) The same “Chart Outline” also lists the IAP and the OLF, in addition to UASR. (Id. at 5.) Defendants Elmezain and Baker are listed in conjunction with HLF. (Id.)
Omar Ahmad also attended the 1993 Philadelphia conference, where leaders of the organizations under the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella met to discuss the future of the Brotherhood in the United States. The Philadelphia conference was attended by several members of the Palestine Committee, which supported and collected money for Hamas. At the conference, attendees discussed how to proceed in light of the recently negotiated Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestinians. Hamas opposed the Accords because it called for the recognition of the state of Israel. The attendees also discussed how they would have to be careful in their opposition to the Oslo Accords because they did not want to be viewed as being against the peace process or as aligned with terrorist groups.
The attendees agreed not to mention the word Hamas but to refer to Hamas as “Samah” which is Hamas spelled backwards. The Philadephia conference essentially laid out the path that the Palestine Committee would take to accomplish its goal of supporting Hamas in the future. Wiretaps from the Philadelphia conference reflect that Ahmad participated, together with Defendants Baker and Elashi, in a number of meetings related to the goals, strategies, and American perception of the Muslim Brotherhood. (See Gov’t Exs. 16-69 (Philly Meeting 7) at 4-5; 16-77 (Philly Meeting 2) at 6;16-67 (Philly Meeting 5) at 5.) Topics discussed included redefining the perception of the sub- organizations due to their work for the Palestinian cause, and the legal hurdles the Brotherhood faced when raising funds for Hamas and other Palestinian causes or when taking orders from overseas leaders. (Gov’t Exs. 16-77 (Philly Meeting 2) at 6;16-69 (Philly Meeting 7) at 4.) Finally, ISNA was also discussed during the Philadelphia conference. During the conference, Palestine Committee members discussed using ISNA as official cover for their activities. (Gov’t. Exhs. 16-59 (Philly Meeting13) at 10; 16-47 (Philly Meeting 1) at 10-11.)
CAIR holds itself out as America’s foremost Islamic civil rights organization. Under Sharia, however, the Western concept of civil rights does not exist. The analogy to Communist front organizations of an earlier era is striking. While pretending to advocate for freedom and to oppose discrimination, CAIR’s real purpose is to subvert the very society whose liberalism it cynically seeks to exploit.