Two officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations will be attending the State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of Democratic lawmakers.
Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) and Alcee Hastings (Fla.) will both be hosting representatives from CAIR chapters in their respective states, the group announced Monday.
Lofgren will be bringing Sameena Usman, a government relations coordinator in the San Francisco office, while Hastings will host Nezar Hamze, the chief operating officer of the nonprofit’s Florida branch.
The announcement comes days after Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, challenged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to bring a Muslim American as one of his guests to the speech.
“This is an opportunity to really drive the point home that there are no Americans who are suspect just based on their religious identity, that all Americans are welcome in the people’s house,” Ellison said in an interview with The Hill.
Demoratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has also urged Democratic lawmakers to bring Muslims to the speech as a rebuke to what she sees is anti-Islamic language from the right.
“The rhetoric and vitriol that has been targeted at this community has been absolutely outrageous and unacceptable,” Wasserman Schultz said at a news conference according to The Sun-Sentinel.
“And as a member of a minority religion myself, one that has faced persecution throughout our existence, to me the idea that we would stand idly by and ignore that and not stand up and use our voices to stand up for our brothers and sisters in the Muslim-American community was just unacceptable.”
CAIR has been an outspoken critic of some Republican presidential contenders, including front-runner Donald Trump, who has called for temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country.
The organization also called on Ben Carson to drop out from the race after the former neurosurgeon said that he does not believe a Muslim should be president without first denouncing Sharia law.
Carson later responded by calling for a federal investigation into CAIR, which he accused of supporting terrorism, as a part of his plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
An FBI chart has surfaced depicting connections between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the chart shows CAIR falling under the umbrella of the jihadi outfit.
This FBI chart details the Hamas-related groups, which included CAIR, that were created to ultimately support the Palestinian terrorist organization. It also established Nabil Sadoun’s (former CAIR national board of directors member and vice chairman) connections to Hamas.
The IPT also obtained groundbreaking new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents that trail CAIR back to its roots as a subversive Hamas-related group.
In 2007, CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, a Hamas financing case that would result in the FBI ceasing its working relationship with CAIR. The HLF trial was the largest terror-financing case in American history. In 2008, during a retrial of the HLF case, an FBI Special Agent labeled CAIR as “a front group for Hamas” during her trial testimony. In 2010, a federal judge reiterated that his court had “ample evidence” that CAIR was involved in “a conspiracy to support Hamas.” CAIR, which relies upon millions of dollars in Saudi cash, was recently listed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a terrorist organization.
The group, which fashions itself as a civil rights voice for American Muslims, was founded by members of the Palestine Committee (PALCOM), an organization “established to support Hamas,” according to the chart. Nihad Awad, currently CAIR’s executive director, was previously an official at PALCOM.
The FBI declaration submitted in connection with removal proceedings for Nabil Sadoun (a former top CAIR official) said PALCOM members used coded language to discuss the “true nature” of their clandestine operations in support of Hamas. During a Philadelphia conference, which was being wiretapped by the FBI, they “referred to Hamas as ‘Samah’ – Hamas spelled backwards – or simply as ‘the Movement,’” the FBI declaration said.
“It is clear that the true nature of the PALCOM meeting was to discuss the means to support Hamas’ goal to undermine the peace process (between Israel and the Palestinians) and to thwart law enforcement in the United States,” the FBI declaration read.
According to the FBI declaration, attendees of the Philly meeting “discussed how ‘Samah’ would one day be labeled as a terrorist organization by the US government,” the document said, adding they “discussed the need to create a new, uncompromised front group in the United States under the veil of some cover palatable to the American public.”
CAIR was “subsequently founded” after the Philly Conference, where attendees discussed the “need to create a new front organization” for Hamas, the FBI declaration said, with PALCOM tasking Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad to chair the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). A third founder, Nabil Sadoun, would join shortly thereafter as Vice-Chairman of CAIR. According to the FBI, Sadoun was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and “was affiliated with Hamas.” Sadoun was also involved with other organizations that solicited funding for Hamas. At one point, he brought Hamas chairman Khaled Mashaal to keynote a conference in Oklahoma City, the FBI declaration reveals.
Before becoming CAIR’s Vice-Chair, Sadoun was motivated by violent jihad, IPT found. Asked about the Middle East conflict with “the Jews” (Israel) in a 1993 interview, Sadoun described the conflict as “the first priority for Muslim[s] until the Holy Land is liberated and the backbone of the Jews is broken.” He also discussed “raising the spirit of jihad and the struggle amidst the Palestinian people… to form a tight Islamic front to face the Zionist Existence and put an end to it.” Sadoun would later be deported from the country, ordered removed from the U.S. by an Immigration Court after authorities alleged he lied about his affiliation with organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.