The FBI took a new slap at the Council on American-Islamic Relations today at the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.
FBI Special Agent Lara Burns was going over more transcripts from the Philadelphia meeting — the 1993 gathering of Holy Land officials and Hamas sympathizers that the government contends was meant to brainstorm ways to downplay the Foundation’s extremist ties — when talk turned to a passage from defendant Shukri Abu Baker.
He is quoted on the wiretap transcript talking about how it would be beneficial to have more traditional, secular American organizations to help spread the Islamist message.
He and others envisioned an “alternative” organization “which can benefit from a new atmosphere, one whose Islamic hue is not very conspicuous,” he said according to the transcript.
Prosecutor Barry Jonas asked Burns whether any groups formed after the Philadelphia gathering fit this mold. “CAIR,” she said.
CAIR is one of about 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case, and testimony has shown that its founder, Omar Ahmad, and current executive director, Nihad Awad, both participated in the Philadelphia meeting.
CAIR has strenuously denied having any terrorist ties, and has filed a request — similar to other groups — to have its name removed from the government’s list of co-conspirators. CAIR maintains that it is a civil rights group focused on promoting understanding of Islam and combating unfair treatment of American Muslims.
Joshua Dratel, attorney for defendant Mohammad El-Mezain, later grilled Burns on her CAIR testimony.
“Just to be sure,” he said, raising up a large posterboard with the name “Council on American-Islamic Relations” scrawled across it, “this is the one with the inconspicuous Islamist hue?”
+ Later Tuesday, Burns’ counterpart, FBI Special Agent Robert Miranda, began his testimony detailing the type of people Holy Land routinely called on to speak at its fundraisers in the U.S.
He and prosecutor Jim Jacks went through a list of Holy Land speakers, seized from a computer at its Richardson offices in 2001, and compared it to lists of known Hamas members and associates.