Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) lobbied against the federal investigation of a Muslim professor whose charity is suspected of funding Osama bin Laden, according to 2006 documents.
The congressman appealed to several federal agencies on behalf of Islamic scholar Anwar Hajjaj, and complained that the terror-linked teacher dealt with “unwarranted scrutiny” when he returned through U.S. airports from trips to Middle Eastern countries.
According to letters obtained by the New York Post, Meeks described Hajjaj as a “highly regarded” scholar who led Friday prayers on Capitol Hill. The congressman also called the professor “a pioneer in distance-based learning of Islam” at the American Open University, in a letter to former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The Post reported that Hajjaj has run two charities that were co-founded by Osama bin Laden’s nephew and are accused of funding al Qaeda. The teacher formerly headed the Taibah International Aid Association, and was listed as the director of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth International (WAMY) on the group’s most recent 2005 federal tax form.
The family members of 9/11 victims named both nonprofits as defendants in ongoing lawsuits, alleging that the charities gave material support to the terror organizations behind the Sept. 11 attacks. One of the suits maintains that the officers and directors of the two nonprofits are co-conspirators of al Qaeda.
Meeks told the Post that he “sent letters to inquire about the treatment of two Muslim American citizens in particular that felt they were treated unfairly at US ports of entry.”
“[S]everal years ago it was brought to my attention that several Muslim American citizens faced what they felt was undue scrutiny from Department of Homeland Security officials at many US airports, including JFK,” said Meeks.
Hajjaj told the Post that he asked the lawmaker to write the letters of support, and said that he knew Meeks through the congressman’s chief of staff Jameel Johnson.
Johnson has been linked to extremists in the past. A Capitol Hill Islamic conference scheduled by Johnson was cancelled by the House of Representatives Sergeant-at-Arms after many of the invites were found to be Islamic radicals and members of the terror watch list, according to terrorism expert Patrick Poole.
Johnson is also the founder and former president of the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association (CMSA), which invited terror imam Anwar Al-Awlaki to lead the group’s prayer services in 2002 after Al-Awlaki had already been linked to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers by the 9/11 commission report. Johnson is apparently shown listening to Al-Awlaki’s sermon in a video of the prayer service.
Meeks is already the center of controversy on his personal finances and his relationship with indicted Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford.
In January, NLPC exposed Meeks’ links to a charity that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the money, prompting a grand jury investigation. In March, NLPC filed a Complaint with the House Ethics Committee alleging Meeks received a sweetheart deal on the construction of his home. After the FBI began scrutinizing his finances, Meeks reported a previously undisclosed $40,000 loan from Edul Ahmad, a Guyanese-born businessman.
Meeks took six trips to Caribbean destinations such as Antigua and St. Lucia courtesy of a nonprofit funded almost entirely by Stanford.
The Miami Herald reported that former Stanford employees alleged that in 2006 that Stanford asked Meeks to retaliate against a renegade Stanford executive named Gonzalo Tirado in Venezuela who was attempting to blow the whistle on Stanford fraud. Allegedly, Stanford asked Meeks to call Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Stanford wanted Chavez to go after the whistleblower, who was indicted a year later.
Alana Goodman is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter.