The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that CAIR (the Council on America-Islamic Relations) is leading a furious lobbying campaign by Islamists in the U.S. to persuade President Obama to free the five Hamas operatives convicted in the Holy Land Foundation case.
Isn’t that rich?
The HLF prosecution is the most significant terrorism financing case the Justice Department has ever done. Hamas, a designated terrorist organization under federal law, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the HLF case, the government proved not only that leading Islamist organizations in America were helping the Brotherhood transmit millions of dollars overseas to Hamas; prosecutors further demonstrated – using the Brotherhood’s own internal memoranda – that the Brotherhood saw its mission in the United States as “a grand jihad to eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within.”
In this grand jihad, the Brotherhood was in cahoots with these leading Islamist organizations, many of which had roots in the Brotherhood. One of these was … CAIR.
Indeed, Hamas and Brotherhood activists created CAIR in 1993-94 because they realized they needed an organization with legal know-how and media polish to advance the Islamist agenda. Having studied the United States (in a way that we resist studying radical Islam), they also realized that if they labeled their new creation a Muslim “civil rights” organization, the media would play along – CAIR would be lauded as a social justice warrior rather than revealed as a jihadist mouthpiece.
So CAIR was shown to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. After the convictions of the five HLF officials in 2008, however, the incoming Obama administration opted against prosecuting CAIR and the other Islamist organizations that had assisted the conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. In fact, early in his administration, Obama proclaimed his commitment “to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”
As I explained at the time, zakat is often misleadingly translated as “charitable giving” by commentators and government officials. Actually, it is the fortification of the ummah (the notional worldwide Muslim community). Under classic sharia, zakat may only be contributed to Muslims. There are eight categories of permissible zakat recipients; one is Muslims who are fighting in jihad operations. (See the ancient sharia manual Reliance of the Traveller, sec. h8.17: “Zakat: The seventh category is those fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster[.]”)
I assume the president was simply uninformed about Islamic law – although this is Obama we’re talking about, so maybe it’s that he figures he knows more about how it should be construed than anyone on earth, including those who’ve spent their lives immersed in it. But Islamists would interpret his stated commitment to “ensure that they can fulfill zakat” as ensuring that they could do what the HLF defendants were convicted of doing: providing material support to terrorists. To Islamists, the five HLF convicts have been stuck serving between 15- and 65-year prison sentences for something they believe Obama has said should not be a crime in the first place.
Following the HLF convictions, it was reported that the Obama Justice Department had blocked prosecutions against a top CAIR official and leaders of other Brotherhood-tied organizations.
And now CAIR is pushing for the HLF defendants to be released from their very lengthy sentences. The Islamists’ narrative, as the Investigative Project explains, is that these Hamas operatives are really victims of, yes, “anti-Muslim hysteria.”
It’s a shrewd campaign. The Obama administration has been wholesale onboard the anti-anti-jihad bandwagon since day-one, and it often spouts the anti-Muslim hysteria party line. The administration has championed the Muslim Brotherhood; worked with Islamist governments to restrict American free speech rights (regarding criticism of Islam); armed and trained militias in Libya and Syria that were threaded with jihadists; and colluded with the Islamist government of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a Muslim Brotherhood backer who is among the world’s leading supporters of Hamas. As illustrated by the administration’s shameful orchestration last month of an anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council, Obama is sympathetic to the hard left’s view that Palestinian terrorists are not really terrorists – they are members of “political organizations” whose regrettable brutality is best understood as “resistance” to “occupation.”
If he were to release the Hamas convicts from the HLF case, Obama would (again) be a hero to both Islamists and leftists. He would simultaneously enrage national-security conservatives in the United States and the Israeli government.
In other words, he’d be doing what he’s done for eight years.
This column was originally published at National Review.