Denying Islamists Federal Security Clearances

Federal departments and agencies tasked with safeguarding the U.S. must first safeguard themselves against Islamist infiltration. Recent news items about Muslims having security clearances rejected or revoked suggest that at least some government entities are forgoing political correctness and taking this problem seriously. More need to follow suit, but the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is determined to make life difficult for them.

The disclosures began last June when the Investigative Newsource (IN), then called the Watchdog Institute, published a report in the Orange County Register describing how a multiagency probe had led the Department of Defense (DoD) one year earlier to remove the secret-level clearance of Rahim Sabadia, president of Sabtech Industries, a California-based company that manufactures electronics and computer systems for military use. This kept his firm from completing work on a classified contract for the U.S. Navy. Apparently the Pentagon had expressed concerns about Sabadia’s “charitable contributions.”

IN’s findings indicate that Sabadia, through his family foundation, “is a frequent donor to Muslim and international charities.” Only one Islamic beneficiary is identified: CAIR has received upwards of a million dollars from Sabadia over the past decade. The IN researchers also note that Omar Zaki, the former executive vice president of Sabtech, has sat on CAIR’s national board. In addition, Sabadia is linked to the Council of Pakistan American Affairs (COPAA), which often teams up with CAIR and other Islamist groups on various initiatives, events, and letters, though the IN piece does not mention any financial backing of it by Sabadia.

As is typical, the government has provided few specifics about why Sabadia lost his clearance. It is conceivable that his COPAA affiliation could have been viewed as placing him too close to Pakistan, but the defense contractor’s generous funding of CAIR is particularly intriguing as a potential cause. Surely it should have raised red flags for the DoD, given CAIR’s well-documented radicalism and its status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), whose bankrolling of Hamas resulted in 108 guilty verdicts. This prompted the FBI to cut off contact with CAIR. A judge later ruled that “the government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR … with Hamas.”

Hussam Ayloush, head of CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter (CAIR-LA), played the victim card in response to Sabadia’s woes. “It would be very unusual if it has anything to do with CAIR,” he insisted, because “you’re talking about the Muslim community’s NAACP.” Denying CAIR’s connections to Hamas, Ayloush opined that “the whole situation we’re dealing with is part of an attempt to smear the American Muslim community by targeting its organizations and business leaders.”

One important aspect of the Sabtech case — and another example of how Islamists walk through doors opened for them — is the role of Congressman Gary Miller, a Republican from California. Miller, who has collected significant campaign contributions from Sabadia and his employees, “set aside $9.6 million in defense contract earmarks exclusively for Sabtech” since 2008, according to the IN article. Miller pleaded ignorance about any charitable donations that could have led to Sabadia’s clearance troubles, adding, “If Sabtech was taken off that list, shame on them.”

Yet it is unlikely that Sabadia’s massive support of CAIR would have perturbed Miller, given his own record of friendly relations with the group. Not only has Miller attended at least one CAIR-LA banquet, in 2004. He also dispatched a sugary letter to the 2008 event, extolling CAIR-LA for its supposed ability to help “ensure that our great country continues to be the world’s beacon of freedom and democracy” and for “playing a vital role in the integration of the Muslim community into American society in an effort to promote patriotism and pride in their home country.” To this day, CAIR’s national website carries a quote from Miller’s encomium.

The 2008 CAIR-LA banquet took place more than a year after CAIR’s designation in the HLF case. Additionally, CAIR-LA is quite problematic itself, due to the radical views of Ayloush, its executive director. Readers who wish to ask Miller if he stands by his earmarks for Sabtech and praise for CAIR-LA may reach his office here.

Another revocation of a Muslim’s security clearance — one previously spotlighted by Islamist Watch — emerged several months ago in a federal lawsuit filed against the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Though budget analyst Mahmoud M. Hegab’s legal complaint argues that the loss of his credentials amounts to religious discrimination, the real issue appears to have been the Islamist links of his new wife, Bushra Nusairat, whom he married after passing his original screening but before starting work in January 2010.