- Founding member and Executive Director of CAIR
- “I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.”
Nihad Awad is a founding member and the current Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He is also an ex-member of the Islamic Association for Palestine.
In the 1990s, Awad studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota and worked at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. As he developed into an increasingly outspoken advocate for the rights of Palestinians, Awad was named Public Relations Director of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which functioned as a front for the terrorist organization Hamas. In 1994 Awad, along with Omar Ahmad and Ibrahim Hooper, founded CAIR.
Eager to gain influence with whichever political party holds power, Awad has courted Democrats and Republicans alike. During the administration of Bill Clinton in 1997, Awad was appointed to the Civil Rights Advisory Panel to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. And during the 2000 presidential election cycle, he figured prominently in the American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee, a network of American Islamic organizations that assisted in establishing a Muslim voting bloc which endorsed George W. Bush. In the 2006 mid-term elections, Awad contributed thousands of dollars to the campaign of Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Awad wrote in the Muslim World Monitor that the 1994 trial which resulted in the conviction of four Islamic terrorists who had perpetrated the previous year's World Trade Center bombing was “a travesty of justice.” Notwithstanding the confessions of the terrorists, Awad said: "There is ample evidence indicating that both the Mossad [Israel’s intelligence agency] and the Egyptian Intelligence played a role in the explosion."
In a 1994 interview with newsman Mike Wallace, Awad was asked if he supported the “military undertakings of Hamas,” to which he replied: “The United Nations Charter grants people who are under occupation [the right] to defend themselves against illegal occupation.” That same year, Awad declared at a Barry University meeting, "I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.”
In June 2001 Awad participated in a protest outside the State Department and the White House, condemning U.S. support for Israel’s allegedly repressive government. In conjunction with this demonstration, several organizations -- including CAIR, IAP, American Muslims for Jerusalem, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Muslim Council, and the Muslim American Society -- released a statement that read: “Before there can be any lasting peace in the region, America must finally come to terms with the real sources of violence, namely: 1) The brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, 2) The continued expansion of settlements, 3) The denial of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, [and] 4) The billions of American taxpayer dollars that help finance Israel's occupation. Any other course of action is a recipe for unending strife and instability.”
In September 2003, Awad and CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad were invited to testify at hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security; both men declined to testify.
In an August 2006 interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Awad suggested that suicide bombings are understandable attempts to address political injustices and do not have any inherent connection to radical Islam. Referring to the writing of political scientist Robert Pape on the topic, Awad stated: “[Pape] found out that [suicide terrorism] has more to do with occupations and fighting injustice than religion.”
Awad has been a guest speaker at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins. He was also a featured speaker at the 2002 Reuters Forum on global cooperation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
to Awad, Israel is the greatest force for religious oppression in the
Middle East. He has claimed: “We, Muslims and Christians alike,
have been on the receiving end of oppression since 1967. The
occupation is the root cause of economic deterioration. Some people
can’t live under constant pressure for a long time; so they
emigrate when they are no longer able or willing to withstand
that non-violent demonstrations are “not a substitute for armed