Written by Joe Kaufman
In March of 1994, the future co-founder and Executive Director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, revealed himself as a supporter of Hamas. “After I researched the situation inside and outside Palestine, I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO," he said. "I know that this movement as an Islamic movement has not been objectively reported in the United States...”
When the declaration was made, Awad was the spokesman for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the American propaganda wing of Hamas. However, since CAIR was established just a few months later, the organization has been extremely hesitant about making any such pronouncements about Hamas. Except for a statement at a November 2001 interfaith gathering by ex-CAIR-New York President Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan, which he now says was a misquote, CAIR has been virtually silent.
But as of March 1, 2008, 14 years following Awad’s infamous statement, CAIR’s wall of silence about Hamas has come crashing down, as CAIR-Florida representative Jawhar “Joe” Badran spoke out at a public forum -- except, unlike Awad and Khankan, this time it was caught on video.
Jawhar Sadallah Badran, a Palestinian resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, has made outrageous statements before. In July of 2006, he told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, “Hamas and Hezbollah are committing acts of defense against the acts of the Israelis. The only weapons that we have are to strap bombs on our bodies and do whatever damage and destruction we can.”
At the time, although he had told the paper that he was not speaking on behalf of any group, Badran was representing the South Florida chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-South Florida) as its Vice President. [CAIR co-founder and ex-IAP President Rafiq Jaber was also a leader of the ADC.]
Nevertheless, at a March 1, 2008 rally against CAIR’s usage of a government-owned facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, there was no ambiguity, as Badran made his support for Hamas known. Speaking into a microphone bearing CAIR’s name and logo and standing beside a smiling Altaf Ali, the executive director of CAIR-Florida, he clearly and emphatically stated on video: “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.”
Additionally, when asked if Hamas was a terror group, one of the girls running video for CAIR said “No,” and a number of witnesses claim that Ali did the same.
Badran made other pro-Hamas statements at the rally. For instance, he said, “Hamas is a defender of the Palestinian people. That’s what Hamas is.” In a similar vein, he declared that “Hamas is better than Fatah, because there’s no corruption. Hamas takes care of the people.” And when asked if he believed a suicide bombing was a terrorist act, he balked on the question and said, “I’m saying that the state of Israel has committed a terrorist act.”
Given his associations with extremist groups and given his overtly pro-Hamas stance, it is curious that Badran, too, sits on the diversity committee of the Broward County School Board. On the other hand, given the way that Broward has coddled CAIR over the years, it may very well make sense.
In March of 2003, the School Board produced a video starring CAIR’s Altaf Ali, which was shown in all of Broward’s public schools. In August of 2005, the Broward Commission handed over the Fort Lauderdale Main Library to CAIR for a six-part series on Islam. And last year, just as this year, the local government approved CAIR’s usage of the Broward County Convention Center to hold its annual banquet, which featured the same speaker, Siraj Wahhaj, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
It was because of Broward County’s embrace of CAIR that my group, Americans Against Hate, called for a rally outside of CAIR’s event. We wanted to speak out about CAIR’s ties to terrorism and to denounce local officials for not taking a strong stand against the organization. While CAIR was recently named by the U.S. government an (unindicted) co-conspirator for a trial that dealt with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas, and while the FBI stated, during the trial, that CAIR was founded as a part of the American Palestine Committee, a group led by then-head of Hamas Mousa Abu Marzook, the organization continues to be embraced by local governments across our nation.
With this new revelation of CAIR’s explicit public support for Hamas, it may be hoped that those in power will understand the true nature of this group. Perhaps now, government officials from Broward County and other areas will not be so quick to grant CAIR access to its cities and will, instead, work to shut the group down. No longer do they have the excuse of ignorance.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, and Sam Kharoba, President of the Counter Terrorism Operations Center, assisted with this report.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Terror-Free Oil Initiative