CAIR has lob­by­ing task for Cony­ers

Group wants Jus­tice to change its sta­tus in ter­ror­ism case

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Bill Gertz

The Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions is seek­ing help from House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Cony­ers Jr. to pres­sure the Jus­tice De­part­ment to change the group’s sta­tus as a co-con­spir­a­tor in a ter­ror­ism case.

CAIR of­fi­cials re­cently met with Mr. Cony­ers, Michi­gan Demo­crat, and then wrote a let­ter ask­ing him to lobby the new at­tor­ney gen­eral on be­half of the group, and to hold hear­ings.

CAIR is among sev­eral hun­dred Mus­lim groups listed as unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tors in a re­cent fed­eral ter­ror­ism trial in Dal­las into ac­tiv­i­ties by the Holy Land Foun­da­tion Inc., a group linked to fund­ing the Pales­tinian Ha­mas ter­ror­ist group. The trial re­cently ended in a mis­trial and prose­cu­tors have said they plan to re-try the case.

De­spite its un­cer­tain out­come, the trial has pro­duced a large amount of in­for­ma­tion and ev­i­dence iden­ti­fy­ing U.S. and for­eign groups sym­pa­thetic to or di­rect sup­port­ers of in­ter­na­tional Is­lamist ter­ror­ists.

A 1991 in­ter­nal mem­o­ran­dum from the rad­i­cal Mus­lim Broth­er­hood iden­ti­fied 29 front groups, in­clud­ing the Is­lamic So­ci­ety of North Amer­ica (ISNA), that are part of a covert pro­gram by the Broth­er­hood in the United States to sub­vert Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.

CAIR of­fi­cials have re­quested that Mr. Cony­ers ask the Jus­tice De­part­ment to ex­plain why it pub­licly iden­ti­fied the 306 co-con­spir­a­tors in the Holy Land Foun­da­tion trial.

“Those on the list suf­fer neg­a­tively as a re­sult of the la­bel ‘unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor’ as it im­presses upon the typ­i­cal mem­ber of the Amer­i­can pub­lic that those listed are in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity,” the group said in a let­ter to Mr. Cony­ers. “In re­al­ity, those so named have nei­ther been charged with a crime nor of­fered any re­course for chal­leng­ing the al­le­ga­tion.”

The group said the con­spir­a­tor des­ig­na­tion is be­ing used by coun­tert­er­ror­ism ad­vo­cates to block gov­ern­ment funds from be­ing used to con­duct out­reach pro­grams to Mus­lim groups. Pend­ing fis­cal 2008 leg­is­la­tion would block the Jus­tice De­part­ment from us­ing any funds for par­tic­i­pa­tion in con­fer­ences spon­sored by a group or per­son iden­ti­fied by the gov­ern­ment as a crim­i­nal unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor.

Crit­ics in Congress op­posed the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s in­volve­ment in a con­fer­ence spon­sored by ISNA in Septem­ber be­cause the group was linked to the Holy Land Foun­da­tion case.

CAIR’s let­ter to Mr. Cony­ers said that “you re­mem­ber many of th­ese abu­sive prac­tices from the McCarthy era and the civil rights move­ment.”

Me­lanie Rous­sell, a spokes­woman for the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, had no com­ment.

CAIR re­cently pe­ti­tioned U.S. Dis­trict Court Chief Judge A. Joe Fish in a “friend of the court” mo­tion to re­move it from the list­ing, say­ing it caused a de­cline in mem­ber­ship and fundrais­ing. Af­ter the mis­trial, Judge Fish for­warded CAIR’s re­quest to U.S. Judge Jorge A. So­lis, who has not yet is­sued a rul­ing.

The group stated in its ap­peal that link­age to the Holy Land Foun­da­tion has “im­peded its abil­ity to col­lect do­na­tions” be­cause donors fear con­tribut­ing to a ter­ror­ist group.

Steven Emer­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­ves­tiga­tive Project on Ter­ror­ism, said the se­cret col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween CAIR and Mr. Cony­ers raises con­cerns over the law­maker’s sup­port for “a group un­am­bigu­ously proven to be part of the Mus­lim Brother­hoodHa­mas in­fra­struc­ture.”

“This com­bi­na­tion demon­strates the de­gree to which rad­i­cal Is­lamic groups have in­sin­u­ated them­selves into the high­est reaches of the U.S. gov­ern­ment by us­ing de­ceit,” he said.

A Jus­tice De­part­ment spokesman de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing a gag or­der is­sued in the case.

Au­drey Hud­son con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Cony­ers Jr. has been asked by a Mus­lim group to pres­sure the Jus­tice De­part­ment on its be­half.

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