Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > CAIR award rescinded by Senator Boxer after Joe Kaufman exposes terrorism ties
CAIR award rescinded by Senator Boxer after Joe Kaufman exposes terrorism ties
Concern about groups activities prompts withdrawal of honor for director of Saudi funded front group for Hamas
MIM: Nihad Awad of CAIR lied when he claimed that the organisation did not know about the Jihad and terrorist activities of their DC based Communications Director and Civil Rights coordinator Ismail Randall Royer.
In the article CAIR executive director Awad stated that:
MIM: In fact Royer had returned to work for CAIR after he had taken leave to go to Bosnia and brought back a Bosnia wife as well. Royer's own accound disproves Awad's claim that CAIR had 'no idea about his travels and activities before he joined CAIR'.
According to a St.Louis newspaper account of Royer's travels and activities:
Boxer pulls Muslim award
CAIR director's honor rescinded over concerns about group's activities.
By Stephen Magagnini and David Whitney - Bee Staff Writers
Last November, the head of the local chapter of a Muslim American civil rights group was honored by Sen. Barbara Boxer with a certificate "in recognition of (his) outstanding service."
Basim Elkarra, the executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was proud of the award, which he said reflected CAIR's bridge-building efforts with Christians, Jews, people of color and the FBI.
But Boxer -- who said Wednesday that her staff made the award in her name without her knowledge -- has rescinded it because of her "concerns" about CAIR, a national group based in Washington, D.C., that has been attacked by conservative Web sites for allegedly supporting terrorism.
"We made a bad mistake not researching the organization," Boxer told The Bee. "My organization created this problem -- I caused people grief, and I feel terrible, yet I need to set the record straight and I'm setting the record straight."
Boxer said she'd heard nothing negative about Elkarra or the Sacramento chapter: "If individuals are doing great work, I commend them personally, but not in the context of the organization."
After Elkarra received the award, Boxer said she was checking news online when an account linking her to CAIR and its alleged pro-terrorist activities "popped up. ... I said, 'Wait a minute, is any of it accurate?' "
Boxer said her staff came up with "a whole laundry list of things," including what she said was CAIR's unwillingness to condemn Osama bin Laden by name or condemn the Palestinian organization Hamas. She added, "several of them (CAIR officials) have been indicted."
Boxer's communications director, Natalie Ravitz, cited news stories detailing the convictions of two individuals, Ghassan Elashi and Ismail Royer.
Elashi, a founding board member of the Texas Chapter of CAIR, was sentenced in October to 80 months in prison for engaging in financial transactions with Hamas leader Musa abu Marzook.
Royer, a CAIR communications specialist between 1997 and October 2001, was indicted in 2003 on charges that he and 10 others were part of a conspiracy to support jihad overseas and sentenced to 20 years.
But Nihad Awad, CAIR's national executive director in Washington, said Wednesday CAIR had issued a statement strongly condemning bin Laden by name after bin Laden aired his post-9/11 video.
"Anyone who doubts where we stand on the issue of terrorism does not understand Islam, the Muslim community or CAIR," said Awad, who has appeared with President Bush.
As for the two former CAIR officials serving time, Awad said, "Ghassan Elashi was a former member of CAIR in Dallas -- he did not do it on CAIR's behalf. This is true guilt by association. We have tens of thousands of members nationwide, and it will be very unfair to hold the organization responsible for the actions of an individual."
Awad said the same is true of Royer: "CAIR had no knowledge of Royer's travels and activities before he joined CAIR."
As for CAIR's alleged failure to denounce Hamas or Hezbollah, "We have condemned attacking civilians regardless whether they are Israelis or Palestinians," Awad said.
Boxer's office routinely gives out many certificates, particularly to outstanding students. But after Elkarra received an award, Americans Against Hate executive director Joe Kaufman issued a press release urging Boxer to withdraw it.
From his home in Florida, Kaufman said, "I am proud of Sen. Boxer for doing this (pulling Elkarra's award)."
Elkarra said he was aware that bloggers for two days were attacking Boxer. "The right wing went all out to attack us on this and she succumbed to it. Two days later, she withdraws the award. You do the math," he said.
Rev. Dexter McNamara, executive director of the Interfaith Service Bureau in Sacramento, said he has worked closely with Elkarra and saw no reason why Boxer should have withdrawn the award. "I've had nothing but really positive experiences with him," McNamara said.
Boxer said she'd be happy to meet with CAIR officials in Sacramento and Washington and "tell them everything that has come to my attention. I want them to do good things and hope they do good things in the future."
By Karen Branch-Brioso Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Randall Royer converted to Islam in St. Louis just after the
1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, with racial tensions high nationwide.
When the 19-year-old Caucasian kid from Manchester walked into a mosque on
the St. Louis University campus, he felt those tensions subside.
"It was me and this guy, who was white, and a guy who was black . . . and
then an Arab and a Pakistani guy came, and we were all there talking,"
recalls Royer, who has since taken the name of Ismail Royer. "And I was
like, 'This is amazing. We're all talking. There are no barriers between
us.' It was really amazing to me how that could be. I just felt something."
Today, Royer and a similarly diverse group of 10 other Muslim men - most
from his mosque in Falls Church, Va. - are now facing charges together that
they conspired to fight with militant Islamic groups abroad.
They come from Yemen, South Korea, Pakistan and the United States. Some are
white U.S. citizens, like Royer. Some are African-American converts. They
played paintball together, attended Islamic lectures together, and, on one
scholar's urging, many left the country after Sept. 11, 2001, to travel to
The indictment says seven of them also traveled to Pakistan to take up arms
against a U.S. ally - India. Royer was said to be the first of the group to
go, in 2000, and then urged others to do the same.
Prosecutors portray Royer, 30, as a ringleader who "recruited conspirators
for service with the Lashkar-e-Taiba": the Pakistani-based militant Muslim
group fighting Indian forces in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Royer told the Post-Dispatch that he had done nothing illegal.
Being militant or outspoken on Muslim issues has been Royer's way for most
of his life as a convert. He rejected Christianity early in life after
disputing with schoolteacher nuns the logic of the Trinity - Father, Son and
Holy Spirit - all being the same God.
Later, after arguing for a month over God's existence at all with a new
Muslim friend, he gave in as a bird singing in a Manchester park interrupted
"I said, 'Wow, that's a very beautiful bird.' And he said, 'In Islam, that
bird is Muslim, because the bird follows God's laws and can do nothing but
follow God's laws. And if you see how beautiful and peaceful that bird is,
that's the kind of peace that human beings can achieve if they follow God's
laws,'" Royer recalled in a recent interview with the Post-Dispatch. He said
his next move was to consult the phone book for the nearest mosque.
He said his parents, Ramon Royer, a Baptist, and Nancy Royer, a former Roman
Catholic nun, "first thought it was a stage."
But, clearly, it was not. When Royer left St. Louis to study at American
University in Washington, he also did office work on the side with the
nation's largest Muslim civil rights group - the Council on American-Islamic
Relations - the first of many stints he'd work there over the years.
Royer almost immediately found another motivation from his religion. In
1994, he quit college for a semester to enlist with Bosnian forces warring
with the Serbs.
"I just kept seeing on the news about women in rape camps and pregnant women
having their children carved out of their womb and it was really disturbing
to me, and I saw that no one was really helping them anywhere in the world,"
"So I just kind of got on a plane and went over. . . . I wound up with a
unit mixed with Arabs and Bosnians, the most beautiful people I've ever met
in my life, and stayed there for about six months or so, until the end of
"Some of the same people were there that wound up in Kashmir. That's how I
wound up knowing the Lashkar-e-Taiba people. So that's why it wasn't
anything strange that I did go to Pakistan."
Royer began a cycle of travel between Bosnia and Washington that would
become routine. After the war ended in 1995, he returned to Washington and
took a research job with the American Muslim Council. He returned to Bosnia,
met and married his wife, Mirsada, and then returned to the United States in
1997 to rejoin the staff of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He
became a civil rights coordinator there until he left for Bosnia again -
soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - but this time at the
suggestion of an Islamic scholar who lectured all the men in the indicted
The scholar, Ali al-Timimi, suggested they go abroad to Muslim countries to
avoid backlash on Muslims in the United States. The indictment, however,
says al-Timimi - referred to as "Unindicted Conspirator No. 1" - urged them
to wage jihad, or holy war, abroad in Muslim countries.
According to the indictment, Royer already had gone to Pakistan in May 2000
to fire on Indian targets with the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant fighters. Royer
said that his role with the group was only in providing communications aid:
setting up a global e-mail list to promote the cause and writing news
releases to boost the group's image abroad.
But in one area, the prosecutors and Royer's versions converge: He said he
did link some of the other indicted men with Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders for
their own later trips to Pakistan, where he assumed they underwent military
training. At least one went with his help before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Another went afterwards - like many, at the urging of scholar Al-Timimi.
Royer responded to the scholar's advice by traveling to Bosnia instead.
"I went to Bosnia to take myself out of the situation of being in a country
that was going to war. I didn't like the way things were headed" after Sept.
11, Royer said. "Suddenly, my neighbor's children weren't talking to my
children. I was the civil rights guy at CAIR, taking phone calls about women
getting spit on, the FBI barging into houses where a woman was taking a
shower and yanking her out of the shower, INS agents showing up at
African-American Muslim houses because they had Arabic names.
"I just didn't like the direction this was all headed, so I was just like,
'Let me get the heck out of here.'"
An end to paintball
He and several members of the group, who played paintball in a rural
Virginia field, stopped the games immediately. He said it was harmless fun,
but they feared how it would be viewed after the attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon. The indictment says the paintball games were meant
to "simulate actual combat in preparation for violent jihad."
Royer said that in addition to stopping the paintball games, he and his
friends decided to sell their guns - also for appearance' sake. But the day
he said he went to sell the gun - an AK-47 he'd bought in 2000 - Alexandria
police pulled him over, confiscated the gun and arrested him for driving
with a suspended license.
"When they pulled me over, I had a copy of the Quran, they were looking at
that strange. I had my passport in a briefcase because I was preparing to
leave for Bosnia. I had a gun for hunting I was going to sell," Royer said.
"It was all very innocent, but the circumstances, all together, didn't look
Ramon Royer, his father, remembered the incident well. He was at his son's
Virginia town house about the same time, when three FBI agents showed up "to
ask about Randy's friends - and none too nicely." Ramon Royer said
Alexandria police later informed his son that he could retrieve the gun they
confiscated since he legally owned it but that his son didn't bother.
The gun came back to haunt him in the indictment, which states that several
of the men bought AK-47-style weapons to prepare them for fighting with the
weapon of choice for Muslim jihad fighters abroad.
"I came back in April of 2002 to the United States," he said. "When I came
back, that's when these guys, the FBI, started back in earnest."
Some of Royer's life patterns continued. He returned to work for another
Muslim group - this time the Muslim American Society. He and his wife had a
fourth child. And Royer continued to travel to Islamic conferences.
But, like most everything else in his life since the FBI searched his home
this spring, much has changed. He left his job at the Muslim American
Society, an exit prompted by the investigation. And Royer's travel was
sharply curtailed. As Royer tried to board a plane in Chicago to return home
from a recent conference, security refused to let him on the plane. His name
was placed on the "no-fly" list kept by the Transportation Security
Administration - and he took a train home to Washington.