SADDAM FOOTED BILL FOR CONGRESSMEN
By Jon Christian Ryter
April 2, 2008
A 14-page federal indictment was unsealed in Detroit, Michigan on March 26 accusing naturalized Iraqi-American citizen Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a former CAIR director, and a former PR Director for the relief agency, Life for Relief and Development of living a double life. During the day, the indictment said, Al-Hanooti worked for the Islamic charity and, by night, functioned as a spy for Saddam Hussein's covert intelligence service operating in the United States. His role was to identify antiwar members of Congress who were sympathetic with Iraq. Al-Hanooti's job was to provide the Iraqi regime with profiles of those on Capitol Hill he felt would likely help Saddam fight the Bush-43 Administration to get UN sanctions lifted—and who would have the political sway to keep Bush from getting Congressional approval to invade Iraq. (Sitting Congressmen and Senators cannot function as lobbyists for foreign governments.) The federal indictment states that Al-Hanooti received 2 million barrels of oil as a payoff for arranging junkets for three antiwar Congressmen to Iraq a few months before the commencement of the second Gulf War.
The case against Al-Hanooti began on September 26, 2006 when FBI and IRS agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force raided the Ypsilanti home of the charity's CEO, Khalil Jassemm, and the offices and home of Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a former official of the charity and also a former head of the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] whose ties to an Islamic party in Iraq triggered the interest by the federal government. Al-Hanooti's Southfield, Michigan home and both the Dearborn and Smithfield offices of the Islamic charity's offices were raided. The JTTF carted off a truckload of documents and computers. At the time, the charity's lawyer Ihsan Alkhatib said the organization knew they were being watched by the JTTF and that the charity did everything by the book. (CAIR was a spin-off of the Texas-based Islamic Association For Palestine [IAP].) CAIR itself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas. That case, known as the Holy Land Case, resulted in a hung jury.
Life for Relief and Development is the largest Islamic charity in the State of Michigan. Seized tax records indicate the charity raised about $10.6 million in 2004—a year after US and allied forces invaded Iraq. Large amounts of money were disbursed to organizations in Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and to groups in the Palestinian occupied areas in Israel. A senior federal official said the JTTF was investigating to see if either the charity or any of its officials violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act which allows the federal government to ban economic activity with countries that are deemed to be security threats to the United States or its key allies.
Buried in the tons of documents was one item that singled Al-Hanooti out for microscopic scrutiny. It seems Al-Hanooti, working for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, arranged a trip to Baghdad—paid for by Saddam Hussein—for three sitting members of Congress in 2002. The Congressmen, who were not identified in the indictment have since been identified. They are now former Congressman David Bonior [D-MI], and Congressmen Jim McDermott [D-WA] and Mike Thompson [D-CA]—a member of the House Select Intelligence Committee. The Justice Dept., through its spokesman, Dean Boyd, made it clear that "...[n]one of the congressional representatives are accused of any wrongdoing, and we have no information whatsoever that any of them were aware of the involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service." However, during the trip, the three Congressmen expressed skepticism concerning Bush-43's claim that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. The three made their trip at a time when President George W. Bush was trying to convince Congress to authorize the use of severe military force in Iraq. As Bush called for military intervention in Iraq, McDermott, Thompson and Bonior were demanding a diplomatic solution with the Iraqi regime—in Baghdad.
McDermott, a far left antiwar advocate viewed the "fact-finding" trip as an opportunity to make the Bush Administration look bad going into the midterm elections. McDermott said the purpose of the mission was to investigate "...The plight of the Iraqi children." McDermott would serve his voter-constituents better by investigating the plight of children in the United States whose parents lost their jobs because of the impact of NAFTA and the influx of illegal aliens into the United States by greedy agri-giants and regional construction companies hiring slave labor to cut their employment costs. McDermott, Thompson and former House member Bonior were criticized by Republicans after the trip because of several of the statements they made. Former 4th term Senator Don Nickles [R-OK], Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said, at the time, that Bonior, Thompson and McDermott sounded like spokesmen for the Iraqi government.
McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare told the media that "...[o]bviously [they] didn't know it at the time. The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That was the only reason [they] went." DeCesare confirmed that the trip was sponsored by a Seattle "church group." (The word "church" in this context was a politically-correct synonym for "Islamic advocacy group" in a society with a justified mistrust of Muslims who believe anyone not Muslim is an enemy of Islam.) In House disclosure forms McDermott admitted that the "church" was actually the Islamic Life for Relief and Development PAC. Muthanna Al-Hanooti—who was arrested by the FBI on March 25, 2008 on conspiracy charges after returning back in the United States from a trip to the Mideast—singled out the trio for the trip because they appeared to the most vocal supporters of the Saddam regime in the US House—and bitter opponents of George W. Bush. The Iraqi Intelligence Service believed it could get the most global PR mileage from them. McDermott's disclosure placed the cost of the trip at $5,510.00. Thompson agreed that the Muslim charity funded the trip.
Investigators determined that the trip was financed by the Iraqi government because Saddam saw these handpicked Congressmen as potential allies. While in Iraq, the congressional trio outspokenly expressed skepticism about Bush Administration claims that Saddam was concealing illegal chemcial and biological weapons (i.e., weapons of mass destruction). McDermott, Bonior and Thompson proved to be a good investment for the Iraqi regime. However, McDermott and Thompson are popular in their antiwar congressional districts and will not experience trouble being re-elected. Sadly, by the time their congressional districts realize they should have applied a patriotic litmus test to these men it will be too late. The United States will be one third of a new nation, sandwiched between its North American Union partners—Mexico and Canada.
During the first Gulf War, Saddam used CNN anchor Peter Arnett as his mouthpiece to hype the US attack as a war against the civilian population in Iraq. Branded as an antiwar radical, Arnett nevertheless won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of initial bomb attacks on Baghdad in January, 1991. CNN ultimately fired Arnett whose tainted coverage of the news reflected on the character of CNN and cost CNN much of its credibility as an unbiased purveyer of the news. Hired by NBC and National Geographic after 9-11 to report directly from Baghdad, he was fired again for his slanted presentation of the news during the Iraqi invasion. Arnett once again became the mouthpiece for Baghdad Bob and Saddam's propaganda machine, reporting the "news" as it was fed to him by the Iraqi government. Tthis time, since reporters were embedded with the troops, the American people actually got to see, first hand, how the war was being conducted and what was happening.
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Just prior to the US invasion in 2003, Saddam relied on the advocacy of antiwar politicians like McDermott, Thompson Bonior, and Senators John Kerry [D-MA], Teddy Kennedy [D-MA], Hillary Clinton [D-NY], Barack Obama [D-IL] and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] as well as and movie stars like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon to persuade the American people that the Iraqi government posed no threat to the United States. The congressional advocacy was used to pressure the Bush-43 Administration to forsake his plan of expanding the Afghan war into Iraq although the reams of documents captured after the Iraqi invasion conclusively prove that Saddam was an active participant in al-Qaeda's jihad against the United States and the industrial west. Conservatives in the Seattle area dubbed McDermott as "Baghdad Jim" (a play on Saddam's former Minister of Propaganda, "Baghdad Bob").
© 2008 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
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