An Al-Qaeda leader, the head of a designated terror organization and a confessed jihadist-in-training are among a “Who’s Who” of controversial figures who have participated in weekly prayer sessions on Capitol Hill since the 2001 terror attacks.
FOX NEWSThe Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) has held weekly Friday Jummah prayers for more than a decade, and guest preachers are often invited to lead the service. The group held prayers informally for about eight years before gaining official status in 2006 under the sponsorship of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of two Muslims currently serving in Congress. The second Muslim congressman, Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., joined as co-sponsor after he was elected in 2008.
Among those who FoxNews.com determined have attended the prayer services during the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations are:
— Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious Al Qaeda cleric believed to be hiding in Yemen and the lone American on the U.S. government’s capture or kill list, who conducted a prayer service on Capitol Hill shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
— Randall “Ismail” Royer, a former communications associate for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who confessed in 2004 to receiving jihadist training in Pakistan. He is serving a 20-year prison term.
— Anwar Hajjaj, former president of Taibah International Aid Association, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and U.N. in 2004.
— Esam Omeish, the former president of the Muslim American Society, who was forced to resign from the Virginia Commission on Immigration in 2007 after calling for “the jihad way,” among other remarks.
— Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was forced to step down from a national terrorism committee post in 1999 for pro-terrorist comments.
— Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director, who attended a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 that was wiretapped by the FBI.
— Johari Abdul Malik, Dar al-Hijrah imam, who made statements in support of convicted and suspected terrorists who attended his mosque.
— Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim scholar banned from the U.S. for six years beginning in 2004 for his alleged ties and donations to terror groups. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lifted Ramadan’s ban in January.
— Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri, the head of a division of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, considered a foreign agent by the U.S.
In the footage, Jameel Johnson, Rep. Gregory Meeks’ former chief of staff and founder and former president of CMSA, is seen sitting next to Randall “Ismail” Royer, a former communications associate for
the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) who is now serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2004 to helping jihadists from Virginia gain access to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. That camp was run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2001. One year before Royer was filmed attending the Awlaki prayer service, he attended jihad training camps in Pakistan, documents show.
(Smarmy little) Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, can also be seen at the Awlaki prayer session. Awad has spoken out in support of
Hamas and attended a 1993 Hamas meeting in Philadelphia that was wiretapped by the FBI, according to public record and court documents from the Holy Land Foundation trial. CAIR was named as
an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial.
Last year, the FBI severed ties with CAIR due to evidence of the group’s ties to networks supporting Hamas, which the State Department has designated as a terrorist group, according to documents obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a watchdog group.
“The FBI has had to limit its formal contact with CAIR field offices until certain issues are addressed by CAIR’s national headquarters,” FBI spokesman John Miller told FoxNews.com last year. “CAIR’s leadership is aware of this. Beyond that, we have no further comment.”
(Proponent of Sharia law for America) Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s national communications director, also appears to have attended the Awlaki prayer service. When asked by FoxNews.com if he had attended the service on Capitol Hill, Hooper said: “Do you realize that the prayer services are open to the public, staffers, we have no say in who offers the prayer — or are you just trying to smear Muslims?”
I don’t have a real big interest in furthering Fox News’ anti-Muslim agenda, but thanks for calling.”
When asked if he is in the video of the service or had attended any service on Capitol Hill led by Awlaki, Hooper said, “I don’t even remember.Sources told FoxNews.com that CMSA is comprised mostly of young Hill staffers who, for the most part, do not play a role in bringing in speakers; they say organizations like CAIR have a heavy hand in selecting and bringing in outside guests.
Hajjaj, tax filings show, was president of Taibah International Aid Association, which was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2004 for its ties to a network funneling money to Hamas.
Hajjaj and Usama bin Laden’s nephew, Abdullah bin Laden, co-founded World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which the FBI has deemed a “suspected terrorist organization” since 1996, according to a complaint filed in New York federal court on behalf of the families of Sept. 11 victims. The judge refused to dismiss the charges against the World Assembly in September, saying the charges against it were “sufficient to demonstrate that they are knowingly and intentionally providing material support to Al Qaeda.”
And there are others.
Esam Omeish, former president of the Muslim American Society, has led CMSA prayer services on Capitol Hill. He’s called for “the jihad way,” supported suicide bombers and advocated for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, according to reports and video.
Another controversial figure is Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who spoke at a CMSA forum aired on CSPAN in August of this year. In 1999, Marayati was forced to step down from a national terrorism committee post after some inflammatory statements he’d made became public. In a 2003 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Marayati said his organization’s members were angry at “the FBI’s policy of targeting people because of their race and religion.” (No, it’s because people of your particular religion are responsible for 99.9% of all terror attacks)
In 2006, at a fundraising dinner for Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terror group, Marayati said:
In an interview in 2000, former FBI counterterrorism chief Steven Pomerantz said, “Mr. Marayati has justified and defended the activities of terrorist organizations such as Hamas, which, among other violent activities, has been involved in the murder of American citizens. He has also categorized the Hezbollah terrorist attack, which killed 241 U.S. Marines, as ‘a military operation.'”
But Ramey denied that anyone would knowingly bring supporters of violence onto the Hill, calling the work of CMSA and violent jihadists mutually exclusive. “I’m sure that there is no support for anything that is illegal or violent vis-a-vis the United States,” he said. (HAH!)
— Johari Abdul Malik, the imam of Dar al-Hijrah, the Falls Church, Va., mosque where Awlaki was once imam, has made statements in support of members of his mosque convicted on terror-related charges, according to reports and documents. Among them is Omar Abu Ali, who was convicted in 2005 of providing support to Al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush.
— Tariq Ramadan, who was banned from the U.S. for six years (Until Obama lifted the ban) for his alleged donations to Hamas, a group since classified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist organization.
— Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri, the head of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a division of the Organization of Islamic Conference, attended a CMSA briefing in May at the Capitol Visitor Center. “The Organization of the Islamic Conference — he’s a foreign agent,” Poole said. “That’s like having the Iranian government come in and speak on Capitol Hill.” h/t T2M