(PJM Exclusive) Did Obama and Holder Scuttle Terror Finance Prosecutions?
During the House Homeland Security hearing last month on the topic of radicalization in the American Muslim community, one exchange between L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) concerned the relationship between the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and Hamas terrorist front the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Sheriff Baca told the congressman:
We don’t play around with criminals in my world. If CAIR is an organization that is a quote "criminal organization," prosecute them. Hold them accountable and bring them to trial.
But according to a high-ranking source within the Department of Justice, who spoke exclusively to Pajamas Media on the condition of anonymity, Sheriff Baca, a long-time supporter of CAIR, was probably already in on the joke.
The joke is that a number of leaders of Islamic organizations (all of whom publicly opposed the King hearings on Muslim radicalization) were about to be indicted on terror finance support charges by the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas, which had been investigating the case for most of the past decade.
But those indictments were scuttled last year at the direction of top-level political appointees within the Department of Justice (DOJ) -- and possibly even the White House.
Included in those indictments was at least one of the co-founders of CAIR, based on “Declination of Prosecution of Omar Ahmad,” a March 31 DOJ legal memo from Assistant Attorney General David Kris to Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler. A second DOJ official familiar with the investigation independently confirmed these details. Omar Ahmad is one of CAIR’s co-founders and its chairman emeritus. He was personally named, along with CAIR itself, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror finance trial in 2007 and 2008. During the trial FBI Agent Lara Burns testified that both Omar Ahmad and current CAIR executive director Nihad Awad were caught on FBI wiretaps attending a 1993 meeting of Hamas leaders in Philadelphia.
Dean Boyd, public affairs representative for the DOJ National Security Division, declined to provide me a copy of the March 31, 2010, memo dropping the Omar Ahmad prosecution. Directing me to submit a FOIA request, Boyd did say that “as a general rule, internal DOJ deliberation memos spelling out arguments for or against potential prosecution of any particular suspect are not public.”
Pajamas Media will be filing a FOIA request for all the related documents in this case.
According to my source, the chief reason outlined in the DOJ memo declining to prosecute CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad was the issue of potential jury nullification. The first Holy Land Foundation trial in 2007 ended in a hung jury. When the case was retried in 2008, all five defendants, former executives of the Holy Land Foundation, were convicted on all 108 counts.
But, according to our DOJ source, possible jury nullification was hardly the primary issue in the DOJ’s scuttling of the terror finance prosecutions. "This was a political decision from the get-go," the source said.
It was always the plan to initially go after the [Holy Land Foundation] leaders first and then go after the rest of the accomplices in a second round of prosecutions. From a purely legal point of view, the case was solid. Jim Jacks [the U.S. attorney in Dallas who prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation executives] and his team were ready to go. There’s a mountain of evidence against all of these groups that was never introduced during the Holy Land trial and it is damning. We’ve got them on wiretaps. That’s exactly why many of these leaders and groups were named unindicted co-conspirators in the first round of prosecutions.
But from a political perspective there was absolutely no way that they could move forward. That’s why this decision came from the top down. These individuals who were going to be prosecuted are still the administration’s interfaith allies. Not only would these Muslim groups and their friends in the media be screaming “Islamophobia” at the top of their lungs and that this is a war against Islam, but the administration would look like absolute fools. It’s kind of hard to prosecute someone on material support for terrorism when you have pictures of them getting handed awards from DOJ and FBI leaders for their supposed counter-terror efforts. How would Holder explain that when we’re carting off these prominent Islamic leaders in handcuffs for their role in a terror finance conspiracy we’ve been investigating for years? This is how bad the problem is. Why are we continuing to have anything to do with these groups knowing what we know?