Qatari Ambassador Plays Semantics With Definition of Terrorism

by John Rossomando
IPT News
April 23, 2018

Hamas is not a terrorist organization and his country has nothing to do with terrorism, Qatari counterterrorism envoy Ambassador Mutlaq Al-Qahtani told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). But it all depends on your definition of terrorism. Al-Qahtani spoke April 9 at the National Press Club at an event sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) – a group that works to undermine the appeal of ISIS using counter-messaging videos.

“Qatar has not, does not, and will never support terrorism in any form,” Al-Qahtani said.

Terrorism is a subjective term, he said, and there is no globally-accepted definition. Qatar views Hamas as a “legitimate political force and governing party,” ICSVE founder Anne Speckhard wrote on her group’s website in January. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in 2014 that Hamas was not a terrorist group because it is “a very important component of the Palestinian people.”

Qatar has been a stalwart supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood for decades and especially since the 2011 Arab Spring. This support alienated Qatar from its neighbors and led to the decision last June by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to impose a land, sea and air blockade of Qatar. They issued a list of 59 terror-linked people and 12 allegedly terror-linked groups that they claimed Qatar supported. The blockade would continue, the three Gulf states said, until Qatar took action against them. Many of the people listed are also blacklisted by the U.S. government and by the United Nations.

Ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood was among the 13 demands Qatar’s Gulf neighbors imposed on it, as was Qatar taking action against the people on the Gulf States’ terror list.

Al-Qahtani seemed to say the Brotherhood was being targeted solely because it is an opposition group. Opposition parties often are unfairly tarred with the terrorist label, Al-Qahtani said. He vigorously argued that the Muslim Brotherhood likewise faced unjust accusations of being connected with terrorism in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mutlaq Al-Qahtani is Qatar’s foreign affairs special envoy for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Dispute Resolution.

“I think the most important [thing] for anybody if you want to make a good argument against any country to classify this entity or that individual as a terrorist is try to make sure that the Security Council of the United Nations to sanction that individual or that entity…,” Al-Qahtani said. Since that has not happened, “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.”

Qatar’s “explanation for HAMAS not being a terrorist organization is distinctly unimpressive and inconsistent,” terrorism researcher Kyle Orton told the IPT.

Hamas became famous for sending suicide bombers to blow up Israeli civilians, the most recent being a 2016 attack on a bus in Jerusalem. It also encouraged stabbing attacks against Israelis in the fall of 2015. Rocket attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilian targets also have been commonplace. Additionally, Hamas has praised car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

Al-Qahtani questioned the Gulf States’ standing to accuse others of supporting terrorism, saying Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have terrorism records “worse than ever.” He cited a connection between Bahrain’s royal family and ISIS’s late top religious scholar, Turki Binali, and Egypt’s blocking of the addition of ISIS affiliates in several countries to the U.N.’s terror list as examples. His list of examples also included findings by the Henry Jackson Society last year that Saudi interests funded Islamist extremists in the U.K.; however, he omitted that the report also pointed the finger at Qatar. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, he said, adding that some of their funding came through the UAE.

Al-Qahtani’s remarks connecting Saudi Arabia with 9/11 weren’t accurate, Orton said.

“One of al-Qaeda’s founding missions is to overthrow the House of Saud. That these people were originally Saudi citizens is really irrelevant,” Orton said via Twitter.

Al-Qahtani failed to mention Qatar’s own connection to 9/11.

Khaled Sheikh Mohammed took a Qatari government job at the suggestion of Qatar’s current Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, the 9/11 Commission found. U.S. intelligence officials also said al-Thani helped Mohammed escape from Qatar in 1996 before American authorities could capture him. Osama bin Laden personally visited with al-Thani in Qatar several times between 1996 and 2000. Bin Laden’s declaration of war against the United States was issued in 1998.

Qatar’s interior ministry published a list of terror financiers that it sanctioned in March in response to pressure from its neighbors, but the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that groups like Hizballah and al-Qaida were conspicuously absent. Two al-Qaida linked financiers with ties to Qatar’s government also were not included.

Not only does Qatar reject terrorism labels for Hamas, the country provided significant support to the group. Hamas’s top leaders lived in Doha until last June when “external pressures” forced their expulsion following the announcement of the blockade. As recently as 2015, Qatar’s foreign minister described then-Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal as a “dear guest.” But Qatar no longer funds Hamas, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Congress in December. It previously pumped millions of dollars to fund Hamas’ governmental infrastructure in Gaza. Qatar claimed that it routed its money through the United Nations, but Israeli press reports indicate that Qatar agreed to directly fund the construction of a new Palestinian government building in Gaza.

Even if Qatar has backed off funding Hamas, it remains a major source of anti-Israel terrorist incitement.

The ADL complained April 10 that Qatar remains a hotbed of anti-Semitic rhetoric. For example, the imam of Doha’s state-run main mosque in December called Jews “your deceitful, lying, treacherous, fornicating, intransigent enemy” in a sermon called the “Liberation of Al-Aqsa.”

Al-Qahtani rejected the charge of religious extremism.

“…[Extremist] religious doctrines pose an undeniable challenge to all of us. They exist in every culture and Islam has no monopoly on them. If actors continue to twist religious doctrines to poison the minds of desperate people in our region and beyond, it’s clear that we are obliged to fight the compact religious extremism,” Al-Qahtani said.

Yet for decades, Qatar’s royal family gave Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi a platform for his hate-filled, pro-terrorist ideas. Qaradawi considers non-violent definitions of jihad – those which cast it as primarily spiritual – as “unacceptable,” a belief he shares with Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.

Jihad as a spiritual struggle diminishes “Jihad in the Way of Allah, and play[s] down its status and virtues in Islam, and its necessity in defending the being of the Ummah (Muslim nation) and its holy sites, if attacked by aggressors and affected by arrogant tyrants,” Qaradawi wrote in a 2016 article.

Qaradawi preached support for suicide bombings and hatred of Jews for years on Qatar’s state-owned Al-Jazeera network.

The Holocaust “was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers,” Qaradawi said in a 2009 Al-Jazeera broadcast.

He also sanctioned attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2014, Qaradawi expandedhis fatwa supporting suicide bombings to Syrians. He dialed back his support for Palestinian suicide bombings in 2016, saying Palestinians could use rockets to attack Israel instead.

“Suicide bombing has been normalised in a way it could not have been without the support of someone with Al-Qaradawi’s stature,” the UAE-based National newspaper said in November.

After President Trump announced the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Qaradawi called for jihad and hurled anti-Semitic barbs.

“The Quran does not devote as much space to the Persians and Romans as it does to the Jews, whose crimes and depraved deeds it exposes. They are the greatest of liars when they speak, the greatest of villains when they quarrel, and the most treacherous of people when they make pacts,” Qaradawi wrote on Twitter, a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows.

Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) also issued a communiqué in October calling for the end of Qatar’s isolation and reaffirming the “importance of armed struggle and resistance in all its forms to liberate Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is an IUMS member.

Qatar reportedly used an associate of Qaradawi’s as a conduit to coordinate the flow of Qatari arms and money to al-Qaida linked rebels belonging to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Qaradawi and IUMS Secretary General Ali Mohiuddin Qaradaghi have close ties with terror-linked charities connected with Qatar’s royal family. These include Qatar Charity and the Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity. Qatar’s Gulf neighbors placed both on their list of terror-connected groups.

Qatar Charity, formerly the Qatar Charitable Society, belongs to Qaradawi’s Union of Good, a global alliance of Islamic charities in 21 countries, that facilitates financial transfers between its member charities. U.S. Treasury officials described the Union of Good as a “broker for Hamas” in 2008 when it blacklisted it.

U.S. court documents showed that Osama bin Laden used Qatar Charity as a terror funding source during the 1990s. Qatar Charitable Society helped finance the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, according to the U.S. government.

Reports suggest these connections persist. Maliweb reported that Qatar Charity funded terrorists belonging to the al-Qaida linked group Ansar Dine in 2013, a claim corroborated by French intelligence. The other Gulf States also accuse Qatar Charity of assisting AQAP in Yemen.

Al-Qahtani downplayed Qaradawi’s continued presence in Qatar and how it squares with its “soft-power approach to terrorism” – the subject of the conference. Qaradawi “is quite old. His health is not that good,” and his Al-Jazeera program went off the air years ago, he said.

All of these pieces of evidence show that Qatar’s approach to terrorism is confused at best. Standing with ICSVE against ISIS is one thing, but terrorism is more than just ISIS.

Canadian Islamist Groups Lose Charity Status Over Potential Militant Financing

by IPT News  •  Jul 19, 2017

Canadian authorities have stripped two former affiliates of the Islamic Society of North America’s Canada chapter (ISNA-Canada) of their charitable status after discovering financial ties between the Islamic organizations and a Pakistani militant group.

ISNA Islamic Services of Canada and the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation lost their charity status for “non-compliance” following a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit, according to records acquired by Canada’s Global News.

The CRA discovered several issues during the audit, including evidence that ISNA Islamic Services facilitated donations that may have ended up in the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a Kashmir-based militant group. According to the CRA report, the Toronto-based Jami Mosque raised and transferred funds to the ISNA Development Foundation “for remit” to the Relief Organization of Kashmiri Muslims (ROKM), a “charitable arm” associated with HM.

“Given the identified commonalities in directorship between ROKM and Jamaat-e-Islami and the Hizbul Mujahideen executive committee, concerns exist that the funds collected and disbursed as part of this relief fund may have been used to support the political efforts of Jamaat-e-Islami and/or its armed wing Hizbul Mujahideen,” the CRA said.

HM is designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union and India. In June, the State Department put HM’s leader, Syed Salahuddin, on its terrorist designations list, citing his threats to train suicide bombers in Kashmir and HM’s responsibility for several deadly terrorist attacks.

This development comes four years after Canadian authorities revoked ISNA Development Foundation’s charity status for similarly raising funds that may have reached militants in Kashmir. In July 2013, the Toronto Star reported that ISNA-Canada may have funneled $280,000 to ROKM.

The 2013 CRA audit found numerous issues within the ISNA Development Foundation, including missing documentation, misleading financial reports, and sending donations abroad to unapproved groups. The ISNA affiliated organization engaged in these activities despite a stated purpose of serving the poor and needy in Canada.

A 2010 CRA audit found that ISNA-Canada itself misused more than $600,000 in donor funds.

A “very small portion … is distributed to the poor and needy and the major portion is spent on the administration of the centre,” concluded the 2010 audit. “Spending for personal expenses out of the charity’s funds is unethical,” the auditor wrote, saying it is “tantamount to misappropriation of funds.”

Trump Tells Abbas to Stop Violent Incitement and Terrorist Salaries

by IPT News  •  May 4, 2017

Palestinians cannot expect to see a lasting peace until their “leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to … violence and hate,” President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a White House meeting Wednesday. The president also raised concerns over the PA’s program of paying terrorists and their families.

Abbas is unlikely to end the program, with a top aide calling the idea “insane.”

Amid growing pressure to halt this practice, it is important to note that Abbas is directly behind the policy surrounding terrorist transfers. By amending the Palestinian Prisoners Law in 2010, Abbas increased monthly installments from approximately $275-$1110 to $390-$3320 per month, reports Palestinian Media Watch.

“Who else has elevated the cause of the Palestinian prisoners other than President Mahmoud Abbas?” asked Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein, in a 2014 interview on Official PA TV, adding that “all the laws, the tenfold increase of the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ [Affairs] – [all this] was done during the tenure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and according to the wishes of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas…”

That year, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) assumed responsibility for paying terrorist prisoners in an effort to mask PA’s involvements. Longer prison sentences lead to more money for terrorists’ families, which further encourage future generations to engage in terrorism.

Abbas previously acknowledged that the PA “ordered” Palestinians to engage in terrorism during the Second Intifada, in an effort to justify payments to convicted terrorists and secure their eventual release.

“This is war. One [Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance (Palestinian term referring to violence). This person killed and the other person killed,” Abbas admitted in a 2005 interview on official PA TV and translated by PMW.

Abbas may claim that Palestinians are raising youth in a “culture of peace,” but overwhelming evidence shows that the PA and other Palestinian factions systematically promote violence against Jews and Israelis.

In March, Abbas met with Palestinians who conducted attacks during the most recent Palestinian terror campaign, including a 14-year-old who tried to stab Israeli civilians in September.

Abbas’ incitement in September 2015 helped spark a wave of violence against Israelis when he called for Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering Al-Aqsa mosque with “everything in our power.”

“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem…Every martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah,” Abbas said in a speech, segments of which were aired on official PA TV and posted on his website.

Also see:

Georgetown University and Radical Islamists: It’s a Family Affair

IPT News
March 28, 2017

Georgetown University’s Qatar campus is set to host Sami Al-Arian for a lecture tonight in Doha. According to a news release from the school’s Middle Eastern Studies Student Association, Al-Arian is a “civil rights activist” who hopes to challenge students to “make it a better, and more equitable and peaceful world.”

Those are charitable descriptions for Al-Arian, a documented member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Majlis Shura, or board of directors. According to the Islamic Jihad’s bylaws, which law enforcement agents found during searches of Al-Arian’s home and offices, there can be “No Peace without Islam.” The group’s objective is to create “a state of terror, instability and panic in the souls of Zionists and especially the groups of settlers, and force them to leave their houses.”

It’s an agenda Al-Arian took to heart. Following a double suicide bombing in 1995 that killed 19 Israelis, Al-Arian solicited money from a Kuwaiti legislator. “The latest operation, carried out by the two mujahideen who were martyred for the sake of God, is the best guide and witness to what they believing few can do in the face of Arab and Islamic collapse at the heels of the Zionist enemy…” he wrote.

“I call upon you to try to extend true support of the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue, so that the people do not lose faith in Islam and its representatives…” he wrote. Four years earlier, he spoke at a fundraiser in Cleveland, introduced as the head of the “active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.”

Why, then, is a Jesuit university, albeit at a campus in Qatar, hosting a leader of a designated terrorist group’s “active arm”?

There’s a family bond between Georgetown University and the Al-Arians. Son Abdullah is an assistant professor at Georgetown’s Qatar campus, teaching history in its School of Foreign Service. He earned his Ph.D. at Georgetown, writing his dissertation about the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood during the 1970s, a time his father acknowledges being part of the global Islamist movement.

Jonathan Brown, Al-Arian’s son-in-law, also works at Georgetown, as the [Saudi] Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization. Brown recently drew criticism for a lecture in which he argued that slavery isn’t inherently “morally evil” if the slave is treated well. He also minimized sexual consent as a recent social more, arguing no one is really free enough to grant consent anyway.

Property records show Brown and his wife Laila Al-Arian bought a modest house just outside Tampa in 2015. Brown also owns a $1.1 million house in Mclean, Va.

Brown’s boss, Georgetown University Professor John Esposito, has been a staunch Al-Arian defender. Al-Arian is “an extraordinarily bright, articulate scholar and intellectual-activist, a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice,” Esposito wrote in a letter to a federal judge.

Brown’s slavery and sexual consent lecture was hosted by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Va. The IIIT was a prime financial supporter of a think tank Al-Arian founded in Tampa called the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). It provided cover for at least three other members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Shura Council, including his brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar, an academic named Basheer Nafi and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah – the Islamic Jihad’s secretary general since late 1995.

Federal prosecutors wanted Al-Arian to tell a grand jury what he knew about the IIIT’s financial support for terrorists. He refused. Al-Arian was charged with criminal contempt after maintaining that stance even after a judge granted him immunity for his truthful testimony.

The case never went to trial. Al-Arian was deported to Turkey in 2015, pursuant to terms in his 2006 guilty plea connected to his Palestinian Islamic Jihad support. He now works as “director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University,” the Georgetown Middle East students group’s news release said.

Al-Arian is a computer scientist.

Sabahattin Zaim opened in 2010 and claims to have about 1,100 undergraduate students.

While the Georgetown University program is organized by a student group, promotional material lists Mehran Kamrava as moderator. Kamrava directs the Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s Center for International and Regional Studies.

His presence adds the university’s imprimatur to the Al-Arian event. In addition, the School of Foreign Service posted the news release promoting Al-Arian’s lecture.

Qatar has supported Hamas, the Islamic Jihad’s rival Palestinian terrorist group, providing money and refuge for Hamas leaders. In that light, Al-Arian’s invitation doesn’t seem out of place. But it is still an event hosted by a Georgetown University campus, moderated by one of its prominent faculty.

While Al-Arian has tried to deny his Islamic Jihad activities, or at least minimize them, his work to advance the group’s bloody ambitions is undeniable. He self-identified as the Shura Council’s secretary. In his plea agreement, he admits lying about Shallah’s prominent role in the Islamic Jihad.

During his 1991 remarks in Cleveland after his “active arm” introduction, Al-Arian urged donations for jihad. “Your brothers in Palestine are struggling with their beings,” he said, “so let us struggle here with our money.”

“This is the way of giving,” he said earlier. “This is the way of struggle. This is the way of battle. This is the way of jihad. This is the way of martyrdom. Thus is the way of blood, because this is the path to heaven.”

The student association’s news release failed to mention this background as a convicted felon, describing the former University of South Florida professor as a “civil rights advocate.” It fails to mention Al-Arian’s guilty plea, and whitewashes his resulting deportation to Turkey by saying “Al-Arian relocated.”

The federal judge who saw all the evidence against Al-Arian, who watched him lie about his true identity and violent ambitions, called him a “master manipulator.” Old habits die hard, apparently. The question in this case is whether Georgetown and its student groups are being duped or are witting accomplices in whitewashing a terrorist into a “human rights advocate.”

A Last, Desperate Plea to Excuse Hamas Support

hamas-pleaIPT NewsJanuary 12, 2017:

As President Obama’s tenure reaches its final days, Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.

An open campaign urges the president to pardon five former officials from the defunct, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), casting them as victims of “anti-Muslim hysteria” triggered by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, a jury convicted the five – Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader – of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funneling money to the terrorist group.

It is not clear whether the requests to pardon the five, or to commute their sentences and release them from prison, is being considered seriously. Obama’s pardons thus far involved somewhat less serious crimes including fraud, embezzlement and non-violent drug offenses.

But advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free. The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

Left unspoken is an undeniable truth behind the pardon/commutation campaign, and behind any ongoing defense of the Holy Land Foundation: Advocates do not believe Hamas support is wrong.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is leading the charge, supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and pro-Palestinian groups.

CAIR’s appeal provided a White House switchboard number for supporters to call and request commutations. Some sites even include contact information for key members of Congress, urging supporters to emphasize the “cruelly disproportionate” length of sentences – from a low of 15 years for El-Mezain, to 65-year terms for Baker and Elashi.

CAIR’s Arizona director Imraan Siddiqi described the prosecution as “a political lynching of charity workers … Its effects still haunt American Muslims.”

After reviewing the entire record in 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saw it quite differently.

Pleas from the MLFA and Siddiqi ignore the exhibits – many of them internal HLF and related documents – showing the family ties between some defendants and Hamas leaders, a reliance on Hamas officials to speak at HLF fundraisers along with other, consistent pro-Hamas messages.

In addition, records show, HLF (formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund) was part of a network called the “Palestine Committee” in the United States. That committee answered to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s mandate that global chapters create “Palestine Committees” in their home countries. Their task was “to support Hamas from abroad,” the Fifth Circuit noted in upholding the convictions and sentences. In the United States, that task fell in part to Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who helped create HLF and two other branches – a propaganda wing known as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a think-tank called the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR).

CAIR was added to the Palestine Committee after its 1994 founding.

“The evidence showed that the long-standing connection between HLF and Hamas began in the late 1980s when HLF arose as a fundraising arm for the Palestine Committee …” the appeals court ruling said. “This fact was notably evident from the … [internal Palestine Committee] documents, which showed that HLF was created along with the IAP.” In addition, Palestine Committee bylaws “specifically recognized HLF as ‘the official organization for fundraising.'”

HLF apologists claim the group was merely interested in helping needy widows and orphans. But, the court pointed out, the orphans included Yehia Ayyash’s children. Ayyash was Hamas’s top bomb maker, nicknamed “The Engineer,” before being killed by Israel.

“An audio tape from 1996 that was seized from HLF’s offices contained songs praising Hamas and discussions of suicide bombers as heroes,” the ruling said.

“We believe that a jury could not help but infer from the above evidence that the defendants had a close association with Hamas and that HLF acted to fund Hamas both before and after Hamas’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

Still, CAIR’s Texas chapter called the five convicted HLF officials “humanitarians,” and described their imprisonment as “an immense wrong.” It cited defense attorney Nancy Hollander’s claim that there was no evidence showing her client, HLF executive director Shukri Abu Baker, breaking the law. “Not a word from his lips that he hated Jews. Not a word from his lips that he supported Hamas. These were fictions,” Hollander said.

1933That cannot be said for Mufid Abdulqader, who performed and acted in a singing troupe that helped raise money for HLF at IAP events. In this video, admitted into evidence during the 2008 trial, he is shown wearing camouflage and a kaffiyeh as he sings, “I am Hamas, O dear ones … I swear to wipe out the name of the Zionist. And protect my land, Palestine.” Then, he pretends to strangle an actor portraying an Israeli.

Hollander failed to mention that Baker ran HLF and was responsible for who spoke and what was said at its fundraisers. Those events routinely featured Hamas leaders and activists. She also neglected to mention her client’s participation in a secret 1993 Philadelphia gathering of Hamas members and supporters who schemed about how to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo peace accord without coming off looking like terror supporters.

It was Baker who set a key ground rule for the talks, which were secretly recorded and translated by the FBI: No one should mention Hamas by name, he instructed. Instead, call it “Sister Samah,” which is Hamas spelled backward.

The gathering, Baker said, was “a joint workshop between the Holy Land Foundation and the IAP.” Participants should not mention Hamas by name.

Hollander then compared the HLF case – brought against a handful of men with documented and recorded connections to Hamas – to the mass internment of 117,000 Japanese American men, women and children during World War II.

The current campaign would settle for a sentencing commutation, essentially freeing the men on time served. The sentences, from 15 to 65 years in prison, were overly harsh, advocates say.

But the Fifth Circuit had considered this, too, rejecting defense department arguments. Its ruling noted that the probation office’s presentence recommendations included significant terrorism enhancements because HLF gave money to Hamas “in order to rid Palestine of the Jewish people through violent jihad, HAMAS’ mission.”

It added that “the trial was replete with evidence to satisfy application of the terrorism enhancement because of the defendants’ intent to support Hamas. The Hamas charter clearly delineated the goal of meeting the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with violent jihad and the rejection of peace efforts and compromise solutions. The defendants knew that they were supporting Hamas, as there was voluminous evidence showing their close ties to the Hamas movement.”

Those claiming the HLF defendants suffered an injustice, or that they somehow deserve relief, lie about this record or pretend it does not exist. To acknowledge reality is to shatter their own argument, or to come clean about their true feelings about Hamas terrorism. They know that’s a losing hand. It’s something Shukri Abu Baker talked about in that 1993 Philadelphia meeting.

They need to mislead people if they are going to be successful, Baker said.

“War is deception,” he said. “Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way … Deceive your enemy.”

Because Nothing Says ‘I CAIR’ Like a Pardon

cair-pleaNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, January 18, 2017:

Thinking about what else could happen in the next 48 hours?

The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that CAIR (the Council on America-Islamic Relations) is leading a furious lobbying campaign by Islamists in the U.S. to persuade President Obama to free the five Hamas operatives convicted in the Holy Land Foundation case.

Isn’t that rich?

The HLF prosecution is the most significant terrorism financing case the Justice Department has ever done. Hamas, a designated terrorist organization under federal law, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the HLF case, the government proved not only that leading Islamist organizations in America were helping the Brotherhood transmit millions of dollars overseas to Hamas; prosecutors further demonstrated – using the Brotherhood’s own internal memoranda – that the Brotherhood saw its mission in the United States as “a grand jihad to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within.”

In this grand jihad, the Brotherhood was in cahoots with these leading Islamist organizations, many of which had roots in the Brotherhood. One of these was … CAIR.

Indeed, Hamas and Brotherhood activists created CAIR in 1993-94 because they realized they needed an organization with legal know-how and media polish to advance the Islamist agenda. Having studied the United States (in a way that we resist studying radical Islam), they also realized that if they labeled their new creation a Muslim “civil rights” organization, the media would play along – CAIR would be lauded as a social justice warrior rather than revealed as a jihadist mouthpiece.

So CAIR was shown to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. After the convictions of the five HLF officials in 2008, however, the incoming Obama administration opted against prosecuting CAIR and the other Islamist organizations that had assisted the conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. In fact, early in his administration, Obama proclaimed his commitment “to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”

As I explained at the time, zakat is often misleadingly translated as “charitable giving” by commentators and government officials. Actually, it is the fortification of the ummah (the notional worldwide Muslim community). Under classic sharia, zakat may only be contributed to Muslims. There are eight categories of permissible zakat recipients; one is Muslims who are fighting in jihad operations. (See the ancient sharia manual Reliance of the Traveller, sec. h8.17: “Zakat: The seventh category is those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster[.]”)

I assume the president was simply uninformed about Islamic law – although this is Obama we’re talking about, so maybe it’s that he figures he knows more about how it should be construed than anyone on earth, including those who’ve spent their lives immersed in it. But Islamists would interpret his stated commitment to “ensure that they can fulfill zakat” as ensuring that they could do what the HLF defendants were convicted of doing: providing material support to terrorists. To Islamists, the five HLF convicts have been stuck serving between 15- and 65-year prison sentences for something they believe Obama has said should not be a crime in the first place.

Following the HLF convictions, it was reported that the Obama Justice Department had blocked prosecutions against a top CAIR official and leaders of other Brotherhood-tied organizations.

And now CAIR is pushing for the HLF defendants to be released from their very lengthy sentences. The Islamists’ narrative, as the Investigative Project explains, is that these Hamas operatives are really victims of, yes, “anti-Muslim hysteria.”

It’s a shrewd campaign. The Obama administration has been wholesale onboard the anti-anti-jihad bandwagon since day-one, and it often spouts the anti-Muslim hysteria party line. The administration has championed the Muslim Brotherhood; worked with Islamist governments to restrict American free speech rights (regarding criticism of Islam); armed and trained militias in Libya and Syria that were threaded with jihadists; and colluded with the Islamist government of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a Muslim Brotherhood backer who is among the world’s leading supporters of Hamas. As illustrated by the administration’s shameful orchestration last month of an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council, Obama is sympathetic to the hard left’s view that Palestinian terrorists are not really terrorists – they are members of “political organizations” whose regrettable brutality is best understood as “resistance” to “occupation.”

If he were to release the Hamas convicts from the HLF case, Obama would (again) be a hero to both Islamists and leftists. He would simultaneously enrage national-security conservatives in the United States and the Israeli government.

In other words, he’d be doing what he’s done for eight years.

Also see:

A Last, Desperate Plea to Excuse Hamas Support

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IPT News
January 12, 2017

As President Obama’s tenure reaches its final days, Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.

An open campaign urges the president to pardon five former officials from the defunct, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), casting them as victims of “anti-Muslim hysteria” triggered by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, a jury convicted the five – Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader – of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funneling money to the terrorist group.

It is not clear whether the requests to pardon the five, or to commute their sentences and release them from prison, is being considered seriously. Obama’s pardons thus far involved somewhat less serious crimes including fraud, embezzlement and non-violent drug offenses.

But advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free. The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

Left unspoken is an undeniable truth behind the pardon/commutation campaign, and behind any ongoing defense of the Holy Land Foundation: Advocates do not believe Hamas support is wrong.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is leading the charge, supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and pro-Palestinian groups.

CAIR’s appeal provided a White House switchboard number for supporters to call and request commutations. Some sites even include contact information for key members of Congress, urging supporters to emphasize the “cruelly disproportionate” length of sentences – from a low of 15 years for El-Mezain, to 65-year terms for Baker and Elashi.

CAIR’s Arizona director Imraan Siddiqui described the prosecution as “a political lynching of charity workers … Its effects still haunt American Muslims.”

After reviewing the entire record in 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saw it quite differently.

Pleas from the MLFA and Siddiqi ignore the exhibits – many of them internal HLF and related documents – showing the family ties between some defendants and Hamas leaders, a reliance on Hamas officials to speak at HLF fundraisers along with other, consistent pro-Hamas messages.

In addition, records show, HLF (formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund) was part of a network called the “Palestine Committee” in the United States. That committee answered to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s mandate that global chapters create “Palestine Committees” in their home countries. Their task was “to support Hamas from abroad,” the Fifth Circuit noted in upholding the convictions and sentences. In the United States, that task fell in part to Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who helped create HLF and two other branches – a propaganda wing known as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a think-tank called the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR).

CAIR was added to the Palestine Committee after its 1994 founding.

“The evidence showed that the long-standing connection between HLF and Hamas began in the late 1980s when HLF arose as a fundraising arm for the Palestine Committee …” the appeals court ruling said. “This fact was notably evident from the … [internal Palestine Committee] documents, which showed that HLF was created along with the IAP.” In addition, Palestine Committee bylaws “specifically recognized HLF as ‘the official organization for fundraising.'”

HLF apologists claim the group was merely interested in helping needy widows and orphans. But, the court pointed out, the orphans included Yehia Ayyash’s children. Ayyash was Hamas’s top bomb maker, nicknamed “The Engineer,” before being killed by Israel.

“An audio tape from 1996 that was seized from HLF’s offices contained songs praising Hamas and discussions of suicide bombers as heroes,” the ruling said.

“We believe that a jury could not help but infer from the above evidence that the defendants had a close association with Hamas and that HLF acted to fund Hamas both before and after Hamas’s designation as a terrorist organization.”

Still, CAIR’s Texas chapter called the five convicted HLF officials “humanitarians,” and described their imprisonment as “an immense wrong.” It cited defense attorney Nancy Hollander’s claim that there was no evidence showing her client, HLF executive director Shukri Abu Baker, breaking the law. “Not a word from his lips that he hated Jews. Not a word from his lips that he supported Hamas. These were fictions,” Hollander said.

That cannot be said for Mufid Abdulqader, who performed and acted in a singing troupe that helped raise money for HLF at IAP events. In this video, admitted into evidence during the 2008 trial, he is shown wearing camouflage and a kaffiyeh as he sings, “I am Hamas, O dear ones … I swear to wipe out the name of the Zionist. And protect my land, Palestine.” Then, he pretends to strangle an actor portraying an Israeli.

Hollander failed to mention that Baker ran HLF and was responsible for who spoke and what was said at its fundraisers. Those events routinely featured Hamas leaders and activists. She also neglected to mention her client’s participation in a secret 1993 Philadelphia gathering of Hamas members and supporters who schemed about how to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo peace accord without coming off looking like terror supporters.

It was Baker who set a key ground rule for the talks, which were secretly recorded and translated by the FBI: No one should mention Hamas by name, he instructed. Instead, call it “Sister Samah,” which is Hamas spelled backward.

The gathering, Baker said, was “a joint workshop between the Holy Land Foundation and the IAP.” Participants should not mention Hamas by name.

Hollander then compared the HLF case – brought against a handful of men with documented and recorded connections to Hamas – to the mass internment of 117,000 Japanese American men, women and children during World War II.

The current campaign would settle for a sentencing commutation, essentially freeing the men on time served. The sentences, from 15 to 65 years in prison, were overly harsh, advocates say.

But the Fifth Circuit had considered this, too, rejecting defense department arguments. Its ruling noted that the probation office’s presentence recommendations included significant terrorism enhancements because HLF gave money to Hamas “in order to rid Palestine of the Jewish people through violent jihad, HAMAS’ mission.”

It added that “the trial was replete with evidence to satisfy application of the terrorism enhancement because of the defendants’ intent to support Hamas. The Hamas charter clearly delineated the goal of meeting the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with violent jihad and the rejection of peace efforts and compromise solutions. The defendants knew that they were supporting Hamas, as there was voluminous evidence showing their close ties to the Hamas movement.”

Those claiming the HLF defendants suffered an injustice, or that they somehow deserve relief, lie about this record or pretend it does not exist. To acknowledge reality is to shatter their own argument, or to come clean about their true feelings about Hamas terrorism. They know that’s a losing hand. It’s something Shukri Abu Baker talked about in that 1993 Philadelphia meeting.

They need to mislead people if they are going to be successful, Baker said.

“War is deception,” he said. “Deceive, camouflage, pretend that you’re leaving while you’re walking that way … Deceive your enemy.”