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Saddam’s Agent Also Met With Hillary, Gore

From a site calling itself The Investigative Project on Terrorism:

Exclusive Photos Show Al-Hanooti’s Political Clout

by Steven Emerson
IPT News
March 27, 2008

Larger copies of some of these images can be seen at the bottom of this story.

Before he was alleged to have become a spy for Saddam Hussein’s regime, Muthanna Al-Hanooti’s charity work and political activism provided him with access to the highest echelons of government.

Newsletters collected by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, some published now for the first time, show Al-Hanooti photographed with dignitaries ranging from First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1996 and Vice President Al Gore along with significant members of Congress.

That may explain why Iraqi intelligence agents had confidence that Al-Hanooti would be able to persuade Congress to lift economic sanctions against Iraq. A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday accuses him of using his work with the Michigan-based Life for Relief and Development (LIFE), formerly known as the International Relief Association, Inc., to become an Iraqi agent.

According to the indictment, Al-Hanooti drafted a plan to undermine the sanctions for the Iraqis, listing members of Congress who would support the move. He then led tours to Iraq, indirectly funded by the Iraqi government, with congressional leaders including Democrats David Bonior of Michigan, Jim McDermott of Washington and Mike Thompson of California.

LIFE issued a statement in advance of a 2002 trip, saying it was designed to help the representatives "gain a better understanding of the humanitarian plight faced by innocent Iraqi civilians still suffering from the destruction caused by the 1991 Gulf War and the continuation of the 12-year embargo." Photos of the junket in question were included in a 2003 newsletter published by an organization called Focus on American & Arab Interests & Relations (FAAIR), of which Al-Hanooti was President.

Photograph taken from Spring 2003 FAAIR Newsletter.

According to the indictment, an intermediary for the Iraqis gave Al-Hanooti $24,000 in September 2002 to cover trip expenses, the indictment alleges. The next month, Al-Hanooti received $10,000 more. The indictment also claims he also was given the right to buy 2 million barrels of oil under Iraq’s Oil for Food program.

FBI agents interviewed Al-Hanooti a year ago. He denied knowingly meeting with any Iraqi intelligence officials and denied being offered the oil contract. That led to three counts in the indictment of providing false statements to federal agents.

The alleged conspiracy began in 1999, the year Al-Hanooti went to work for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and continued through March 2003 – covering the entire period of time he worked for CAIR.

A CAIR press release from June 2000 announced the opening of the organization’s Michigan office and identified Al-Hanooti as its executive director, and he is similarly identified on CAIR’s federal tax records from 2000. Michigan corporate records in 2000 also list Al-Hanooti as CAIR-Michigan’s registered agent.

In previous cases in which other CAIR officials have been indicted or convicted, CAIR has tried to distance itself from the controversy, issuing statements, often false, claiming that the alleged crimes did not take place while the individual was employed with CAIR.

CAIR is not mentioned in the indictment. Rather, it focuses on Al-Hanooti’s work with LIFE, a Muslim charity that operates in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and the Palestinian territories.

Dawud Walid, CAIR Michigan’s current executive director, told the Detroit News that his group "will be closely monitoring to make sure he has his rights afforded to him and that he receives due process. He is innocent until proven guilty."

Al-Hanooti’s political clout remained intact. The spring 2005 LIFE newsletter showed him with political heavyweights ranging from Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Muthanna Al-Hanooti with First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1996. Taken from the International Relief Monitor Newsletter.

Al-Hanooti with Vice President Al Gore in an undated photo taken from a LIFE newsletter.

U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA), Jim McDermott (WA) and David Bonior (MI) in Basra in 2002. Taken from Spring 2003 FAAIR Newsletter.

Al-Hanooti with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2005. Taken from Spring 2005 LIFE Link Newsletter

Taken from Spring 2003 FAAIR Newsletter

Mrs. Clinton looks very fetching in that photo. One can almost hear her sigh, "well, I am photographed with so many people…"

And what a shock it is to see that Mr. Hanooti was (or is) also an agent for CAIR.

Mr. Conyers involvement is also quite a surprise.

(Major kudos to IPT and our own Petra for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, March 27th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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