Did Obama Justice Department Protect Alleged Terrorist-Connected Omar Ahmad for Political Reasons?
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305
Washington, DC — June 28, 2011
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to respond to its request for public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 11-01121)). The documents relate to a decision by the DOJ not to prosecute the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its cofounder Omar Ahmad, who has been linked by federal investigators to the terrorist group Hamas. The decision not to prosecute reportedly was made over the objections of special agents of the FBI and prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas.
On May 9, 2011, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request to the DOJ’s Office of Information Policy (OIP) seeking access to the following:
- The March 31, 2010 memorandum entitled “Declination of Prosecution of Omar Ahmad from Attorney General David Kris to Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler.
- “Any and all communications, contacts, or correspondence between the Office of the Attorney General (AG), the Office of Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Office of the Associate Attorney General (Assoc. AG) and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or any CAIR groups concerning, regarding, or relating to the prosecution or declination of prosecution of Omar Ahmad.”
- “Any all communications, contacts, or correspondence between the Office of the AG, the Office of the DAG, or the Office of the Assoc. AG and the U.S. Congress concerning, regarding, or relating to the prosecution or declination of prosecution of Omar Ahmad”
- “Any and all communications, contacts, or correspondence between the office of the AG, the office of the DAG, or the office of the Assoc. AG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas concerning, regarding, or relating to the prosecution or declination of prosecution of Omar Ahmad.”
On May 9, 2011, Judicial Watch also filed a similar request with the DOJ’s National Security Division (NSD) seeking access to contacts and correspondence between the NSD and CAIR, Congress, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas regarding the decision not to prosecute. The time frame for these requests is January 20, 2009, to May 1, 2011.
Both DOJ divisions have acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s request, and were required to respond by June 14 and June 13, 2011, respectively. However, to date, both have failed to produce responsive documents or indicate when a response is forthcoming.
Omar Ahmad served as senior executive on the Palestine Committee, an umbrella organization of U.S.-based Hamas support groups. Moreover, according to sworn testimony by an FBI agent during the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was convicted in 2008 of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas, Ahmad moderated a conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in October 1993, during which participants discussed ways to support Hamas.
A ruling by U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis in the Holy Land Foundation lawsuit referenced the specific purpose of the Philadelphia meeting:
The Philadelphia conference essentially laid out the path that the Palestine Committee would take to accomplish its goal of supporting Hamas in the future. Wiretaps from the Philadelphia conference reflect that Ahmad participated…in a number of meetings related to the goals, strategies, and American perception of the Muslim Brotherhood. Topics discussed included redefining the perception of the suborganizations due to their work for the Palestinian cause, and the legal hurdles…faced when raising funds for Hamas and other Palestinian causes or when taking orders from overseas leaders.”
Judge Solis also declined an attempt by CAIR to remove the organization’s designation as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation lawsuit, ruling that the government “has produced ample evidence to establish the associations” of CAIR with Hamas.
“The American people have a right to know why the Obama Justice Department decided against prosecuting a terrorist-connected Muslim extremist over the objections of federal investigators,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The case against Ahmad and CAIR is substantial. And given the politicization of the Justice Department under Eric Holder, it certainly appears that Justice officials dropped this case in order to appease radical Islamic groups. The pattern of this Justice Department is to stonewall even the most basic requests for information under the law. The cover-up and secrecy is, frankly, like nothing we’ve ever seen.”