Chicago-based Arab group faces fresh terrorism scrutiny

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Members of a Chicago-based Arab-American group connected to President Barack Obama have once again come under fire for their ties to terrorism.

According to a report by the Associated Press, published last Friday, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh — an associate director at the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) — was convicted in a terrorist attack decades ago in Israel and lied on an immigration application to become an American citizen.

Odeh served ten years in an Israeli prison after she participated in bombings that killed two people in 1969. Charged with immigration fraud, Odeh is slated to be deported from the United States and could spend ten more years in prison if convicted.

Odeh’s boss and AAAN’s director, Hatem Abudayyeh, has been defending her in the press, calling her “a leader in the community—a stalwart, an icon” and characterizing her arrest “as an escalation of attacks on our community.”

But documents provided to The Daily Caller show that Abudayyeh has his own connections to terrorism.

According to registration documents provided to TheDC, Abudayyeh also runs the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), a non-profit registered by Rafeeq Jaber, the co-founder of CAIR and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation’s support of Hamas.

Both Abudayyeh and Odeh, along with twenty-one other activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, had their homes raided by the FBI in September 2010. The roll up included domestic left-wing terrorists along with IRA members and Muslim fanatics and strongly suggested coordination between violent segments.

Soon after, it was discovered that Abudayyeh had visited the White House in August 2010 to discuss concerns of the Arab-American community. In 2011, the government froze Abudayyeh’s bank accounts.

Additionally, according to documents provided to TheDC, Jaber, the co-founder of CAIR, was a panelist at an event Abudayyeh held August 8-10, 2008 commemorating the 60th anniversary of al Nakba, “the Catastrophe,” or a term Palestinians give to the founding of the state of Israel.

Jaber lectured on a panel that included Laila Al-Arian, the daughter of Sami Al-Arian, a convicted terrorist fundraiser for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a front group for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jaber was also president of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document — titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” — as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 like-minded “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These “friends” were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”

In December 2004, a federal judge in Chicago ruled that IAP (along with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development), was liable for a $156 million lawsuit for having aided and abetted Hamas in the West Bank killing of a 17-year-old American citizen named David Boim. IAP had its assets frozen by the U.S. government and was shut down on grounds that it was funding terrorism. But its president, Jaber, was freely lecturing the AAAN conference in 2008. Conference participants were told to use the phrase “USPCN” to get a lower room rate on the hotels.

AAAN has long been tied to President Obama. In 2001 and 2002, the Woods Fund of Chicago, with Obama on its board, made grants totaling $75,000 to the AAAN—about a fifth of AAAN’s overall budget. Obama served in that role alongside Bill Ayers and received $6,000 a year from 1999-2002.

AAAN’s founder Rashid Khalidi and his wife Mona hosted Obama in their home on at least one occasion. Obama praised Khalidi’s insights, which had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.” Khalidi returned the compliment, telling a mostly Arab audience, that Obama is “the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause.”

AAAN former vice president Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada once told left-wing interviewer Amy Goodman in 2008: “I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator — when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time. I remember personally introducing him onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that’s just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation.”

In 2007, Abunimah said that Obama apologized for not doing enough for Palestine. “He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing,” Abunimah recalled. “As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.’ He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and U.S. policy, ‘Keep up the good work!’”

Abunimah also attended that August 8, 2008 USPCN conference and lectured on a “one-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Charles C. Johnson