- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2007

House Republicans yesterday called on majority leaders to rescind their invitation to allow the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — an organization that refuses to disavow terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah — to meet today in the Capitol.

“Americans ought to be troubled that the new Democratic majority is agreeing to face-to-face meetings in the Capitol with apologists for suicide bombers,” said Ed Patru, spokesman for the House Republican Conference.

The conference said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, should cancel CAIR’s forum titled “Global Attitudes on Islam-West Relations: U.S. Policy Implications,” which is scheduled for this afternoon in a basement conference room.

“Ultimately what happens in the Capitol is the speaker’s responsibility,” Mr. Patru said. “She ought to make it clear that groups that refuse to condemn the tactics of Hezbollah and Hamas don’t get meeting spaces in the People’s House.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, reserved the room for CAIR despite the group’s spotty record on terrorism, The Washington Times reported yesterday.

Calls for comment were not returned by Mrs. Pelosi or other Democratic leaders, including Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who both previously spoke out against CAIR.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper declined to answer questions about opposition to the group’s meeting in the Capitol or the group’s record on terrorism.

“How about people questioning whether your article is accurate,” Mr. Hooper told The Times.

In addition to the forum on global opinion, CAIR today plans to announce a discrimination lawsuit against US Airways by six Islamic imams who were removed from a flight in Minneapolis last November.

CAIR, which is the country’s largest Islamic civil liberties group with 31 chapters nationwide, has never been charged with terrorism crimes and the organization is known to cooperate with the FBI and the Justice Department.

But prominent lawmakers, watchdog organizations and law-enforcement authorities insist CAIR has terrorist ties, despite the group’s endorsement by Republican and Democratic leaders, including President Bush and Mrs. Pelosi.

Mr. Schumer, who is chairman of the Democratic Senate Conference, has criticized CAIR for “intimate links with Hamas” and once said that “we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.”

Late last year, Sen. Barbara Boxer withdrew a “certificate of accomplishment” that the California Democrat had awarded to CAIR official Basim Elkarra, citing concern over the group’s relationship with terrorist groups.

The Capitol room — H-137 — is controlled by the Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Pascrell is a member and is eligible to reserve the space for any group provided he vouch that the use does not violate House rules, according to the committee.

“We just see it as a simple room request,” Mr. Pascrell’s spokesman, Caley Gray, said. “We did receive a room request and evaluated it and approved it.”

Later yesterday, CAIR called The Times story a “hatchet job” and disputed whether two men cited in the article were linked to terrorism. It said Rabih Haddad, who was deported to Lebanon in 2003 after federal authorities linked him to al Qaeda, was not a fundraiser for CAIR.

Court documents refer to Haddad as a CAIR fundraiser.

CAIR also disputed that Ghassan Elashi was a ‘founding board member’ of the group. Elashi, who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted on numerous charges related to schemes to funnel money to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, was a founding member of the group’s Texas chapter.

The group did not question that former CAIR civil rights coordinator Randall Royer was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to conspiring to train terrorists in Virginia.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide