Saturday, January 31, 2009

FBI Severs Its Ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.)

Fox News (1-21-09) reports:

The FBI is severing its once-close ties with the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas.

All local chapters of CAIR have been shunned in the wake of a 15-year FBI investigation that culminated with the conviction in December of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

An official at the FBI's headquarters in Washington confirmed to FOX News that his office directed FBI field offices across the country to cut ties with local branches of CAIR.

In Oklahoma, FBI officials had worked with CAIR's local branch from its founding in 2007 and attended the fundraising banquet that launched the office. But just over a year later, the local FBI froze all its programs involving CAIR.

FOXNews.com has obtained an Oct. 8, 2008, letter sent by James E. Finch, special agent in charge of Oklahoma City, canceling a session with local Muslim organizations "as a result of the planned participation by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)."

Click here to read the letter, which was provided by the watchdog group the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

The new policy marks a major shift for the FBI, which has long been close to CAIR. The agency has previously invited CAIR to give training sessions for agents and used it as a liaison with the American Muslim community.

CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, attended a post-Sept. 11 meeting with then-FBI director Robert Mueller, and he met with other top brass as recently as 2006. But that was before Awad was shown to have participated in planning meetings with the Holy Land Foundation, five officials of which were convicted in December of funneling $12.4 million to Hamas.

Click here to see the government's evidence in the Holy Land Foundation case.

Prosecutors identified CAIR's chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, as an unindicted co-conspirator in that trial, and Special Agent Lara Burns testified that CAIR was a front group for radical organizations operating in the U.S.

CAIR denies that it conspired in the case and has sued unsuccessfully to have its name removed from the list of co-conspirators. It also is protesting the FBI's decision to sever relations. [See the full text]

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