Schumer, Kyl Inquire About Recent FBI Decision to Sever Ties with Islamic Group
Recent Trial and Conviction of Fundraisers for the Holy Land Foundation Revealed Possible Ties Between CAIR and Hamas FBI and CAIR Previously Collaborated on Outreach to American-Muslim Community and Agent Training
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) announced Tuesday that they have requested more information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding its decision to sever its ties with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Officials at the FBI headquarters in Washington recently ordered FBI field offices to end contact with local CAIR branches after an investigation revealed that CAIR had links to Hamas.
In their letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Senators Schumer and Kyl write, "Over the past couple of weeks we have read with interest reports that the FBI has severed its ties to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). We certainly support that action, and it would be helpful to us to understand the situation more fully."
The senators pose three questions: Do all FBI field offices have the same policy and are there exceptions to this policy? Does the FBI know of any other U.S. government agencies that still have ties to CAIR? Does the FBI have any other contacts with organizations identified as unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism finance organizations and are those relationships affected by the decision to sever ties with CAIR?
Senators Schumer and Kyl hope that the answers to these questions will help clarify the FBI's decision-making process and new policy, and help determine if further action by other federal government agencies is necessary.
The FBI's decision to sever its ties with CAIR comes amid mounting evidence that CAIR is connected to Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group. In a recent trial in Texas, five fundraisers for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) were convicted of sending more than $12.4 million to Hamas. CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case and reports suggest that a founder of CAIR and CAIR's current executive director had attended planning sessions with HLF and Hamas officials in which the creation of Islamic "front" organizations was discussed. The FBI contended during the trial that CAIR's subsequent creation carried out that plan. In addition, evidence showed a $5,000 donation from HLF to CAIR. Over the years, four members of CAIR's leadership have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes, including one founder who was a high-ranking member of the Hamas-created Islamic Association for Palestine. The FBI previously teamed up with CAIR on national and local outreach to the American-Muslim community and training programs for agents.
The complete text of the senators' letter to Director Mueller is below.
February 23, 2009
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Dear Director Mueller:
Over the past couple of weeks, we have read with interest reports that the FBI has severed its ties to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). We certainly support that action, and it would be helpful to us to understand the situation more fully.
For example, would your field offices have the same policy and are there any reservations or exceptions in your policy? And since the Bureau has taken a leadership role, do you know whether other federal government agencies still have ties to CAIR and are they aware of the Bureau's decision? Obviously, we believe this should be government-wide policy.
Finally, given CAIR's status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, we would like to know more about other unindicted co-conspirators. Does the Bureau have any other contacts with organizations or individuals identified by federal prosecutors as unindicted coconspirators in terrorism finance investigations and were those contacts affected by the decision to sever ties with CAIR?
We have appreciated the opportunity to work with you in the past and hope to continue to provide the tools you need to help keep this country safe.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
United States Senator