Protest crowd in L.A. highlights Ilhan Omar’s secretive fundraising for terror-linked groups

Protest crowd in L.A. highlights Ilhan Omar’s secretive fundraising for terror-linked groups
Ilhan Omar (Image: Yahoo News! video screen grab)

First of all, keep in mind that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s one of the most important things we cannot ignore when reviewing Omar’s activities and statements.  She may be a freshman member of the committee, but her seat on it gives her an outsize influence on the deliberation of U.S. foreign and security policy in the House. It also potentially gives her access to classified information about U.S. policy and intelligence that may not be readily available to all members.

Certainly it means she now comes to issues in the Middle East, including terrorism, terror-sponsoring countries, and the interests of U.S. allies and partners, from a privileged position.

So it continues to be of grave concern that Omar, who has a history of repeated anti-Semitic comments, is appearing at fundraisers for terror-linked groups – including two this weekend hosted by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) in Los Angeles – from which the media are frequently excluded.

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It is in no way a deployment of click-bait wording to call her attendance at these events “secretive.”  The organizations and Omar don’t answer questions about what she says and does during many of the fundraisers, and won’t admit independent observers to record her comments and inform the public.  Nor do they post videos or even in-house summaries of the events.

Since she is a public official, and all of the American people – not just her constituents in Minnesota – have every right to know what’s going on at any such events that involve her, that’s a serious problem.

CAIR has a number of documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood; one of its officials, Jinan Shbat, recently expressed support for Hamas.  CAIR Director Nihad Awad has also expressed support for Hamas in the past.  Jinan Shbat has been linked to a Hezbollah supporter as well, Abbas Hamideh, leader of the extremist group Al-Awda, for whom she led a pro-Palestinian rally in 2016.  Hamas and Hezbollah are both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

In February, Omar attended a fundraiser for Islamic Relief in Tampa.  Islamic Relief is another terror-linked organization:

Islamic Relief has come under congressional investigation for what lawmakers have described as its efforts to provide assistance to terrorist group such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The charity has been banned by some countries as a result of these ties.

In 2017, Congress sought to ban taxpayer funds from reaching the charity due to these terror links.

The Washington Examiner provided additional information:

Islamic Relief has been criticized by numerous governments for funding terrorism and links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel’s Shin Bet acquired intelligence revealing Islamic Relief’s funding of Hamas, prompting a government ban. The United Arab Emirates has also listed Islamic Relief as a terrorist group. Bangladesh banned them too, and Sweden named them a Muslim Brotherhood front.

According to Adam Kredo of WFB, he had no success trying to obtain video of the February event or any previous Islamic Relief event in Tampa.  Moreover, “multiple local news and television outlets in the Tampa, Fla., area, where Omar spoke to Islamic Relief … confirmed they were unable to gain access to the closed door event.”

The Washington Examiner’s David Swindle also highlights an appearance by Omar in December 2017 at a CAIR event in San Francisco, alongside “Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid At-taqwa in Brooklyn and the Muslim Alliance of North America, who … is among the most prolific fundraisers and regular speakers on the Islamist lecture circuit and possesses arguably the longest and most explicit record of promotion of Islamic law, violent jihad, and calls to anti-gay violence.”

On Saturday 23 March, Omar appeared at a fundraiser for the CAIR chapter in Los Angeles, where yet another extremist with whom she has a long history is a fixture.

CAIR-LA’s executive director, Hussam Ayloush, is a divisive figure with his own history of anti-Semitic statements. Gary Fouse, a local activist who keeps a blog documenting CAIR-LA’s activism, says that Ayloush has been openly asserting a moral equivalence between ISIS and Israel since ISIS was at its height in 2015.  At a panel discussion that year, Fouse wrote, “Ayloush mentioned that the fact that some ‘twenty’ American Muslims had gone off to join ISIS did not justify the U.S. government spending millions of dollars investigating the Muslim community.”

Given the affinity of CAIR officials for Hamas, it’s worth noting what Hamas has been doing in Gaza for the past week (albeit with very little coverage from the U.S. media): violently suppressing protests against its brutal rule.

The first day of the now-persistent anti-Hamas riots in Gaza was also the day two of Hamas’s longer-range rockets were launched toward Tel Aviv.  Israel mounted a prompt response, attacking a list of terror targets in the Gaza Strip.  But the story with potentially greater significance for the long-term fate of Gaza, the security of Israel, and U.S. policy in the region is the surprising sustainment of the anti-Hamas protest posture by disgruntled Gazans.

March 2019 is perhaps the worst time in the last 15 years to have a high-profile member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in lockstep with Kool-Aid-drinking extremists on the role and nature of Hamas.

The fundraiser in the L.A. area was held at the Hilton in Woodland Hills, as part of the CAIR-sponsored Valley Banquet, a relatively recent annual gathering.  This event apparently allowed media coverage, based on the L.A. Daily News’s Ariella Plachta being able to post a video clip from Omar’s address at Twitter afterward.

Protesters showed up in surprising numbers, lining Canoga Avenue in front of the Hilton.

In additional video the number of protesters appears to be at least 300-400, but there are no videos that give a synoptic view.

The Daily News reporter’s figure from the police of about 1,000 is not unrealistic – but it is robust.  That’s a lot of people concerned enough to come out on a Saturday and register their objection to Omar’s sentiments – anti-Semitic, supportive of extremism – and role in national politics.

Omar will be at another CAIR fundraiser on Sunday in nearby Irvine, in Orange County.  That one is closed to the public and the media.

CAIR flyer via Washington Free Beacon
J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.