Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hilliard terror cleric’s Al-Qaeda and HAMAS Hajj Homeboys

Mohammad Al-Hanooti (left), Salah Sultan (center), and Anwar Al-Aulaqi (right)

Reading the Washington Post several weeks ago, a front page article caught my eye: “Imam from VA Mosque Now Thought to Have Aided Al-Qaeda”. The subject of the article, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, was a name familiar to me because of his past association with our former Hilliard terror cleric, Salah Sultan, who fled the country for Bahrain last March after having his citizenship application denied for his terrorist ties. Sultan was subsequently videotaped with several designated terrorists when he was a keynote speaker during a terror confab held in Doha, Qatar back in July. Al-Aulaqi and Sultan are also both tied to a known HAMAS fundraiser, Mohammed Al-Hanooti, who federal law enforcement authorities have claimed has raised millions of dollars for the terrorist organizations and who was also named an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombing.

The WaPo article discusses new evidence that after Sultan’s friend Al-Aulaqi fled to Yemen in 2002, he began working directly with the Al-Qaeda networks in the Persian Gulf. This is not the first time that Al-Aulaqi has been tied to Al-Qaeda, though, since he has been identified by government sources and media reports as the spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Al Hazmi and Khalid Al Mihdhar. Al-Aulaqi helped the two 9/11 terrorists locate housing in San Diego, and the pair followed Al-Aulaqi when he moved to the Washington DC area in 2001.

Just prior to Al-Aulaqi’s flight to Yemen in 2002, he was scheduled to help Salah Sultan lead a Hajj tour to Mecca, along with HAMAS fundraiser Al-Hanooti. The trip was coordinated by the DC-area Dar El-Eiman Tour Group, which was run by Fawaz Mushtaha. Mushtaha, a former official with the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), was listed, along with Al-Hanooti, as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial last year. The Investigative Project has additional info on the background of Mushtaha, his tour company, Salah Sultan, and his Al-Qaeda and HAMAS Hajj homeboys.

Here’s the Hajj tour brochure, listing Al-Hanooti, Sultan and Al-Aulaqi as tour leaders:

As stated previously, this most recent WaPo article was not the first time that Al-Aulaqi had been in the news for his Al-Qaeda connections. In August 2003, Time Magazine asked the question, “Why Did the Imam Befriend the Hijackers?”, which observes that despite his association with two of the 9/11 terrorists, after the terror attacks he lied to the FBI claiming not to have known any of the hijackers. The FBI’s hands-off approach to Al-Aulaqi prompted criticism by congressional investigators.

And again in June 2004, US News and World Report featured an article on Al-Aulaqi, “The Imam’s Very Curious Story,” disclosing that the imam was known to have been engaging in some very un-Islamic behavior — namely, prostitution:

The probe of the 9/11 attacks soon led Washington FBI agents back to San Diego, where they found that al-Awlaki had twice been busted for soliciting prostitutes in 1996 and 1997 but had avoided jail time. Al-Awlaki has previously described these charges as “bogus.” But FBI agents hoped al-Awlaki might cooperate with the 9/11 probe if they could nab him on similar charges in Virginia. FBI sources say agents observed the imam allegedly taking Washington-area prostitutes into Virginia and contemplated using a federal statute usually reserved for nabbing pimps who transport prostitutes across state lines.

Salah Sultan’s other Hajj homeboy, Mohammad Al-Hanooti, was also the subject of an extensive investigative piece in June 2002 by the Albany Times-Union, "Religious leader tied to terror”. That report discusses Al-Hanooti’s longtime terror associations and activities:

But a classified memorandum written by the FBI’s counterterrorism director less than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks describes Al-Hanooti as a “big supporter” of Hamas.

The memorandum from Dale L. Watson, head of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, was sent to the Department of Treasury as federal authorities prepared to clamp down on what they called terrorist fronts that had set up fund-raising operations on U.S. soil.

It was during his tenure as imam at a northern New Jersey mosque in 1993 that Al-Hanooti allegedly raised money for Hamas, according to Watson’s memorandum.

This information notwithstanding, there are still many in the Central Ohio area who are willing to stand up and defend Sultan and are quick to dismiss his open association with terrorist leaders and organizations, such as his appearance at a June 2005 HAMAS rally in Istanbul, where he spoke along with HAMAS head Ismail Haniyeh.

But even with Sultan’s flight to the Middle East, he has been replaced by an endless stream of hate speakers and terror sheikhs who go through some of the Islamic institutions in the Columbus area like a department store revolving door.

We’ll bring you more on Central Ohio’s Wahhabi Express soon!