CAIR, Hamas and the House Candidate

Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison is shaping up to be the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, and the mainstream media is treating his candidacy as an unalloyed triumph of multiculturalism. The Christian Science Monitor quoted Larry Jacobs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota exulting: “You think of the stereotype of Minnesota — Garrison Keillor and white Norwegian farmers. The first Muslim congressman coming from Minnesota? It says a lot about the changing face of the United States and Minnesota.”

The Monitor doesn’t mention, however, a disturbing aspect of Ellison’s record: the support he has received from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Journalist Joel Mowbray has been virtually the only journalist who has pursued this connection, exploring in a recent column, “Mr. Ellison’s seemingly tight connection with Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whom he met almost two decades ago at the University of Minnesota.” Mowbray reports that “Mr. Awad headlined a fundraiser last month that the campaign estimates netted $15,000 to $20,000, and in July, and it appears that CAIR’s co-founder bundled contributions totaling just over $10,000. (The campaign issued a terse denial on the latter point, though it refused to explain away overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)”

What is so troubling about Ellison’s connection with Awad and CAIR? Mowbray quotes the assessments of two leading Democrats: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has declared that CAIR “is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its association with groups that are suspect.” New York Senator Charles Schumer, once said that CAIR “has ties to terrorism” and that Ellison’s supporter Awad has “intimate connections with Hamas.” Mowbray establishes the latter point from Awad’s own mouth, quoting his 1994 statement: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.”

Awad himself responded to this in an AP story about Ellison’s candidacy: “I don’t support Hamas today,” he explained. “My position and CAIR’s position is extremely clear — we condemn suicide bombings. We are mainstream American Muslims.” AP reporter Frederic Frommer added that “in an interview, Awad said that was before the group engaged in suicide bombings and was designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.”

If Awad supported Hamas before 1994, it is useful to examine what that means. I have here preserved the old Hamas website’s “glory record” of attacks against Israelis—the terrorist organization’s own record of its murderous actions. Here are some of Hamas’ self-described exploits from before 1994:

12. Keryat Youval Operation: The militant Mohammed Mustafa Abu Jalala stabbed four Israelis and injured another at a bus station in Keryat Youval in Jerusalem before he was arrested by the Israeli forces.

13. Askalan Road Operation: While driving a taxi, the militant Jameel Ismail Al:baz, a member of Hamas, ran over a group of Israelis waiting on this road on 19 July 1991….

17. Eid Al-maskhara Operation: The militant Ra’ed Al:reefy attacked an Israeli crowd in Jaffa on 17 March 1992. He was able to kill 2 and injure 21 Israelis who gathered to celebrate Eid Al:maskhara, also known as Al:boureem….

Are we to understand that Awad supported such operations and only stopped supporting Hamas later, although these was no change in its ideology and no change in its taste for victimizing civilians?

When Awad says that he and CAIR do not support Hamas today, it should be recalled that in March 2004, when Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was killed by Israel, CAIR condemned his killing—without ever mentioning that Yassin was the mastermind and director of suicide killings for Hamas. When did CAIR stop supporting Hamas? On Monday I searched the CAIR website for “Hamas.” There are three possible searches: News Briefs, Action Alerts, and Press Releases. Only News Briefs turned up anything at all: an old article from Haaretz attacking Ariel Sharon.

So if CAIR now condemns Hamas, where is it saying so? Not even in one press release? Not one Action Alert calling on Muslims everywhere to condemn Hamas?

Before Minnesotans elect Keith Ellison to Congress, they need to know the answers to these questions.