CAIR Head Praises October 7 Terror Attacks

By Matis Glenn

CAIR head Nihad Awad

The co-founder and executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, praised Hamas’ October 7 terror attack in a November speech, Jewish Insider reported Thursday.

“Yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not allowed to walk in,” Nihad Awad said at a November conference hosted by the American Muslims for Palestine, a group whose leadership reportedly has ties to Hamas.

Awad’s statements, first publicized by the Middle East Media Research Institute, were greeted by cheers from the assembled crowd.

He went on to describe the horrific Oct. 7 massacre, in which 1,200 Israelis were killed, including women, children and elderly, some in barbaric ways, as “self-defense.” He said that Palestinians have a right to defend themselves, but Israelis do not have such a right.

“Yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, had the right to defend themselves,” said Awad. “Yes, Israel as an occupying power does not have that right to self-defense.” Awad, however, did not mention Hamas by name in his speech, referencing only “the people of Gaza” throughout.

Though CAIR denies that it supports terrorism, numerous investigations have discovered links between high-ranking members and terrorist organizations. Both Awad and co-founder Omar Ahmad were previously affiliated with the Islamic Association of Palestine, a group described by the FBI in 1993 as “intimately tied to the most senior Hamas leadership.”

CAIR’s website states, in a section dedicated to defending itself against accusations of ties to terrorism, that “We unequivocally condemn terrorism. Any group which hurts civilians deserves condemnation.” However, CAIR joined other Muslim groups in a statement the day of October 7 condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians hours after the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. That statement did not condemn Hamas’ attack, or mention it at all. Four days later, CAIR condemned the terror attacks in a statement, but again criticized Israel.

“No power on earth will break them or defeat them,” Awad said of Gazans in his November speech. “The Israeli enterprise — aided, abetted, financed, armed and excused by the United States and the hypocritical Muslim powers — they could not even come very close to the sense of pride and confidence that the people of Gaza have.”

AMP’s founder and head, Hatem Al Bazian, formerly worked for KindHearts, an organization which the federal government alleged provided “support for terrorism behind the façade of charitable giving,” funneling money to Hamas.

Awad invoked an age-old antisemitic trope of “Jewish money” in his speech.

“They have paid millions of dollars for corrupt members of Congress not to condemn its atrocities against Gaza,” he said. “AIPAC and its affiliates have been controlling the United States government and the United States Congress … Unless we free Congress, we will not be able to free Palestine.” 

Awad on Thursday claimed that his statements were taken out of context, and that he was referring to Palestinians who he says “briefly” entered Israel as a “symbolic act of defiance” at the same time as the terrorists but did not harm people.

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