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Harvard University's Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is giving its "Robert Coles Call of Service" Award to Nihad Awad for advancing "mutual understanding." But Nihad Awad has a track record of bigotry, extremism, and ties to numerous convicted terrorists.
Nihad Awad began his advocacy career with the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an American non-profit organization directly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian offshoot Hamas. IAP's logo includes a map of Palestine with the Arabic word "wa-aadu" - clearly evoking the first word of the Muslim Brotherhood's trademark slogan.
Nihad Awad worked as the Public Relations director for IAP from 1993-1994. During that time the organization distributed numerous extremist publications.
A 2007 US government trial briefing noted that "the IAP was the first organization to publish an English version of the Hamas Charter". A sample quote from that document: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
In 1994, during a speech at Barry University, Awad publicly declared: "I am in support of the Hamas movement."
In 2003, Awad testified to the U.S. Senate and defend IAP, saying: "The Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP) is a grassroots organization which continues to function legally and has only been 'linked' through allusion and no charge of criminality has been brought against the organization."
In 1994, Awad and other IAP staffers decided to form a new organization called the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Awad became its executive director.
The idea for CAIR emerged from an infamous meeting convened in Philadelphia in 1993 by another Brotherhood affiliate, the Palestine Committee... Meeting in Philadelphia a few weeks after the signing of the Olso Accords, Ahmad, Awad, and their colleagues conceived of an organization that would engage the wider community of Muslims in America — not just Palestinians — to work against the accords, by raising funds for the Palestinian struggle and encouraging Muslims to get more involved in American politics. They had in mind a broad campaign to influence American media, public opinion, and eventually policy. A year later, the Council on American Islamic Relations — a direct outgrowth of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas — was open for business in Washington, D.C.
While CAIR presents itself as a civil rights organization defending Muslims from discrimination, Awad's organization has been criticized by many Muslims for claiming to speak in their name.
A 2011 Gallup poll revealed that just 12% of Muslim Americans say they feel CAIR represents their interests.
Harvard Islamic Studies professor Ali Asani has criticized CAIR: "There is general concern among Muslim intellectuals about how not only CAIR but some of these other organizations are claiming to speak in the name of the Muslim community, and how they're coming to be recognized by the government as spokespeople for the Muslim community in the U.S. That troubles people."
In 2014, the United Arab Emirates formally designated CAIR a terrorist organization for its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist movement banned in several Muslim countries.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper has called CAIR and Awad "Islam's Flawed
Spokesmen," noting: "CAIR and AMC in particular would not be
chosen as representatives by many Muslims. In fact, there are those in American
Muslim communities as well as law enforcement who consider CAIR and the AMC to
be part of the problem, because both have been seen as tacitly -- if not
explicitly -- supportive of extremist groups guilty of terrorism."
In the United States, under Awad's leadership, several CAIR employees, board members, and contractors have been convicted of terrorist offenses and/or deported for terror ties. A sample of these Awad associates includes:
- Randall "Ismail" Royer
- Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi
- Ghassan Elashi
- Muthanna Al-Hanooti
- Bassem El-Khafagi
- Nabil Sadoun
In 2009, under President Obama, the FBI cut off formal dialogue with CAIR after it was designated an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial. In a letter to Congress, the FBI noted: "Evidence was introduced that demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders (including its current President Emeritus and its Executive Director [Nihad Awad]) and the Palestine Committee. Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and HAMAS... The FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."
In 2011, under Awad's leadership, CAIR had its tax-exempt status revoked for not filing tax returns for three years in a row. That status was later restored.
There is no known record of Awad ever apologizing for IAP's bigoted publications; his own vocal support of Hamas; CAIR's direct association with numerous convicted terrorists; or the damage CAIR has done to Muslim-Americans by associating the entire community with CAIR's extremist track-record.