A group banned from associated with the FBI because of its alleged ties to Hamas is still a go-to resource for law enforcement officials in South Florida.
The leaders of Council on American Islamic Relations Florida recently met with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida. Those leaders included Wilfredo Amr Ruiz and Nezar Hamze. This meeting was held within the context of a federal program called Group Violence Initiative, which is designed to counter gang violence in inner-city communities.
FBI policy has formally prohibited the federal law enforcement agency from associating with CAIR since 2008, due to the group's documented ties to organizations involved with financing the terrorist group Hamas. A similar policy does not exist for the U.S. Department of Justice despite previous efforts in Congress to encourage the DOJ to institute such a policy, despite federal prosecutors writing that "from its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists." CAIR has also been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.
Despite these relationships, CAIR Florida has continued to successfully interface with federal officials. In 2017, CAIR Florida participated in a DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties town hall and in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security hired the CAIR Florida branch to facilitate a training event between DHS and State Department officials and French Law enforcement.
At the time, CAIR Florida officials were overjoyed regarding the opportunity to mingle with federal officials. "We appreciated the opportunity to communicate how restricting liberty promotes hate crimes and violence and that preserving liberty is key to preserving security and peace," CAIR Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly stated in his press release.
According to a press release from CAIR Florida in 2014, they met with federal officials to discuss anti-terrorism efforts and hate crimes. They described the effort as an attempt by Muslims to work with the federal government to combat terrorism and promote national security.
The press release also stated, "CAIR Florida officials have attended similar meetings statewide with various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies over the past 14 years to combat terrorism, to repudiate extremism, and to protect civil liberties endangered by some government policies.
If CAIR Florida wants to help law enforcement combat terrorism, they have a funny way of showing it. Shibly himself has a documented record of repeatedly endorsing terrorist groups. In May 2019, Shibly used the CAIR Florida headquarters in Tampa, Florida, to host a meeting with Hatem Naji Fariz. Fariz is a convicted Palestinian Islamic jihad operative who pled guilty to serving associates of PIJ in July 2006 and received a 37-month prison sentence.
In August 2014, he tweeted that "Israel and its supporters are enemies of God." In November 2006, following the Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah, Shibly declared that Hezbollah was "basically a resistance movement and "absolutely not a terrorist organization."
Shibly's statements and the many others like them by other CAIR Florida officials remind us that CAIR hasn't fundamentally changed its nature. It's high time that other federal, state and local law enforcement officials undertake to cut off CAIR, and the American people need to insist that their leaders at all level do exactly that and hold them accountable when they refuse.
Rebecca Witonsky is the South Florida Associate of the Counter Islamist Grid.