I’ve mentioned before that candidate for the 51st House of Delegates, Faisal Gill, worked for two Islamic organizations in 2000 — the “American Muslim Council” and the “Islamic Free Market Institute” (known as the “Islamic Institute”), and for the most part the discussion has revolved around whether his work for these organizations was properly disclosed in what became known as the “Faisal Gill Affair“. What has been missing so far is what these organizations really were, and whether his working on their behalf is informative to voter’s decisions about Faisal Gill as a candidate for the House of Delegates.
The AMC was founded by Abdurahman Alamoudi in 1990 and designed to protect the political and civil rights of Muslims in the United States. Abdurahman Alamoudi was imprisoned in October of 2003 after being convicted on multiple charges of engaging in terrorism. Alamoudi was a supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, founder of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP) Musa Abu Marzook, and Omar Abdel Rahman who was responsible for the first bombing at the World Trade Center. At the time of his arrest, Alamoudi was discovered carrying a briefcase full of cash that originated from Libyan dictator Muammar Quaddafi.
Radical black activist Eric Vickers was the executive director of the AMC, and has been active in the defense of Sami Al-Arian, a supporter of Palistinian Islamic Jihad who was convicted on charges of supporting terrorism and is currently in prison. He described Al-Quada as a “resistance movement” against outside agressors in a June, 2002 interview on Fox News, and is known for sending out an email on behalf of the AMC entitled “Seeing The Signs” in the wake of the 2003 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, suggesting that it was a case of God’s retribution for the presence of an Israeli astronaut onboard.
AMC board member and Safa Group principal Jamal Barzinji’s house was raided in an anti-terrorism investigation. AMC advisory board member Soliman Biheiri was convicted in 2003 for perjury in connection with his relationship with Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook. One-time executive board president Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin has been on the FBI’s most-wanted list twice and is now in prison for murdering a police officer.
In 2002 the AMC urged Muslims to contribute to the “Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development” which was a fundraising front for Hamas, and has had it’s assets frozen by the Treasury Department. It also solicited funds for the “Global Relief Foundation” which provided assistance to Osama Bin Laden.
The Islamic Institute was set up by Alamoudi using funds that appear to have come from either Libya or Wahabbis from Saudi Arabia. The Washington Post described it’s continued funding as coming from a “secretive group of tightly connected Muslim charities, think tanks and businesses based in Northern Virginia [and] used to funnel millions of dollars to terrorists and launder millions more” – a number of whom are currently part of the “largest federal investigation of terrorism financing in the world.” Khaled Saffuri was it’s executive director, who has supported the families of homicide bombers in Israel, was a close associate of Sami Al-Arian, and has been an outspoken defender of the Holy Land Foundation, and the government of Sudan which is complicit in the genocide of a segment of it’s own population. After Saffuri left, former AMC director Abdulwahab Alkebsi, supporter of the Iraqi Communist Party, took over as the executive director.
USA Today had this to say about the political activities of the Islamic Institute:
The Islamic Free Market Institute Foundation has paid for at least 23 trips by lawmakers since 2000, at a cost of $235,839. Most of the travel was to an annual conference in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar. The group raised $456,777 in 2003, according to its latest federal tax return, but declined to disclose its financial backers. Among the organization’s founders in 1998 was Grover Norquist, a Republican activist and anti-tax lobbyist. He no longer is on the institute’s board, but the organization shares an office with Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform. The Islamic Institute also has worked with another lobbyist, Asim Ghafoor, who represented an association of Islamic banks.
Notice the name Asim Ghafoor, who is a self-proclaimed sharia law advocate and is currently Faisal Gill’s law partner?
Now here are a few things all this absolutely does not mean: this doesn’t mean that Faisal Gill supports terrorism. And it doesn’t at all mean he’s a terrorist himself. I haven’t seen, heard or read a single thing which even hinted at such a thing. What it does mean however is that Faisal Gill has displayed consistently spectacular poor judgement in picking his associates, some which he seems close to today. The degree to which he has supported some of their policy positions — something I think voters would be very interested in — isn’t at all known, and so far we haven’t heard anything about what Faisal Gill did in lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Institute nor have we seen any of the statements he made for the American Muslim Council as their spokesman. This whole period in his life seems shrouded in a mystery that Faisal Gill hasn’t seemed interested in revealing.
I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near these organizations or their principals, and I’m surprised that someone who did would think he should run for office. Who you choose to associate with is pretty indicative to voters of your values and beliefs, after all. While a one-time brief association might be a strange coincidence for a candidate, multiple connections over time (with Asim Ghafoor, for example) would seem to indicate something far more intentional, and would be pretty informative about a candidates convictions. I believe these personal and professional associations are absolutely relevant to his candidacy, for the same reasons I’ve believed that Jeanette Rishell’s association with Mexicanos Sin Fronteras was relevant to her candidacy, and that Jeff Dion’s relationship with “homosexual rights” organizations were relevant to his. Who and what we support is very relevant to who we are, and for a candidate I believe those associations provide valuable insight.
Faisal Gill’s supporters seem strangely untroubled by all of this, though. I can’t understand why, but since they seem so active in discussions regarding Faisal Gill, I hope they’ll visit and help me understand why they believe that none of this matters to them.
UPDATE: For more information on Asim Ghafoor and the Global Relief Foundation, GoodbyeJim published an article today that’s worth a visit.
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