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Washington Times - Republicans Slam Islamic Society Convention

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Washington Times - Republicans Slam Islamic Society Convention

Audrey Hudson

Republican lawmakers are urging the Justice Department not to participate in a convention held by the Islamic Society of North America — a group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an ongoing terrorism-financing case.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Reps. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sue Myrick of North Carolina called the Justice Department's involvement a "grave mistake."

"In light of the threat that our nation ... is currently facing from radical jihadists, and because of the president's commitment to fighting the war on terror on all fronts, we believe it is a grave mistake to provide legitimacy to an organization with extremist origins, leadership and a radical agenda," the lawmakers said.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he agrees that Justice officials should not attend the conference.

"It is absolute insanity for the federal government, especially the Department of Justice, to be giving any credibility at all to a group like the ISNA, which has such strong links to Islamic extremism," Mr. King said.

Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said in an e-mail that the department has "received the letter, and we will respond to Reps. Hoekstra and Myrick." He went on to note that the Civil Rights Division and other government agencies — including military recruiters — frequently attend the convention "as part of its outreach and education efforts."

Rank-and file lawyers within the Justice Department object to participating at the ISNA convention, fearing it will undermine the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

According to an e-mail from Susana Lorenzo-Giguere, acting deputy chief of the Voting Rights Division, the plan to "co-sponsor an exhibit booth" will involve sending government lawyers to man it for the Labor Day weekend event in Illinois.

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