NBC news has reported that the former head of the Michigan office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been indicted by federal authorities for activities on behalf of Iraqi intelligence during the Saddam regime including arranging a trip to Iraq for three U.S. Congressmen. According to the report:
Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary. Al-Hanooti was charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, illegally purchasing Iraqi oil and lying to authorities. Al-Hanooti worked on and off from 1999 to 2006 as a public relations coordinator for Life for Relief and Development, a Michigan group formed after the first Gulf War to fund humanitarian work in Iraq. But prosecutors said he also was responsible for monitoring Congress for the Iraqi Intelligence Service. From 1999 to 2002, he allegedly provided Saddam’s government with a list of U.S. lawmakers he believed favored lifting economic sanctions against Iraq. In exchange for coordinating the congressional trip, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil, prosecutors said. Arrested Tuesday on returning to the United States from a trip abroad, al-Hanooti appeared Wednesday in federal court to face the charges, was released on bond and must wear an electronic monitor. A Justice Department official told NBC News that the agency is satisfied that the three members of Congress had no idea that Saddam’s intelligence service was behind the trip.
Mr. Al-Hanooti is a Palestinian who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s. In December 1999, Arab-American media reported that Mr. Al-Hanooti was leaving LIFE to join the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and state records indicate that he founded the CAIR Michigan chapter in May 2000. At that time, the registered address for CAIR Michigan was the same as the headquarters for LIFE. Local media also reported at the time that Mr. Al-Hanooti became the director of CAIR”s new Michigan office. LIFE itself is an organization headquartered in a suburb of Detroit and was raided in 2006 by Federal agents for unknown reasons. LIFE board members and staff are almost all Iraqi-born or from families born in Iraq. Although purportedly a charity, LIFE has a long history of political advocacy and lobbying activities related to Iraq. LIFE has a number of connections to the global Muslim Brotherhood including sharing an address with the The Islamic American University whose chairman is Youssef Qaradawi, the head of the global Muslim Brotherhood.(Sources: “Muslims Speak Up About Politics, Bias Oakland Center Will Fight Discrimination”; Detroit Free Press June 15, 2000 Thursday Oakland Edition and” Detroit community activist joins CAIR in D.C.” Arab American News December 3, 1999