Born in 1959, Mufid Abdulqader is the younger half-brother of Hamas’ supreme political leader, Khaled Mashal. A Palestinian who grew up in Kuwait, Abdulqader emigrated to the United States in 1980. In August 1981 he enrolled at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater to study engineering, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree (in 1984 and 1994, respectively). In 1985 he married a native Oklahoman with whom he would father three U.S.-born daughters. Abdulqader also became a naturalized American citizen and went to work for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation as an engineer.
In addition to his work as a civil servant, for a number of years Abdulqader also performed as a singer in a band named Al Sakhra (“The Rock”), which toured the United States from coast to coast for appearances at Hamas fundraisers. Al Sakhra’s songs were replete with lyrics urging hatred toward Jews, encouraging violent holy war, and glorifying the martyrdom of suicide bombers.
A 1992 video places Abdulqader and Mashal together at a major Hamas fundraising conference in Oklahoma City, where Abdulqader and his fellow Al Sakhra members, all wearing traditional kaffiyeh headscarves and desert robes, sang: “I have nerves of steel, and no threats scare me. Only the one who is proud of carrying the rifle will succeed. No to the peace conference! Yes to jihad!”
“Our people in Al Aqsa are out to revenge, to destroy the enemy,” Abdulqader sang in another Al Sakhra production. “Our revolution is spread throughout the land! With Koran and Jihad, we will gain our homes back … My precious eyes are for Palestine, the agony of death is precious, killing Jews … Death to Jews, is precious. Jews will not fear threats, only action. So Hamas, hit them with the shoe bottoms of Islam and Hamas!”
Videos of Al Sakhra concerts from the 1990s show masked jihadists in camouflage uniforms marching to the band’s drumbeats; children taking the stage to perform pantomime stabbing and shooting motions to the beat of the music; speakers taking the microphone during intermissions to recite accounts of alleged Jewish conspiracies; collection baskets circulating among audience members; and large donations being announced publicly from the podium, amid signs and banners. “If they cut off your water supply,” read one banner, “then Hamas will satisfy your thirst with blood.”
All of these activities were legal in the United States until 1995, when President Bill Clinton designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. But an examination of amateur videotapes of Abdulqader’s performances shows that his lyrics were no less inflammatory after that date. In 1996, for instance, Abdulqader and his band performed at a crowded New Jersey conference where they sang: “With holy war, we regain the land. No to giving in. The blood of martyrs will fall like the water of rain.… To Jerusalem let’s go. The sacrifice is calling.” Another song declared: “Mother, when they bring you the good news of my martyrdom, remember how I sacrificed my head and heart. With my blood I mark the way for my children, and under the ash, Mother, there is still fire.”
Later in 1996, the city of Dallas hired Abdulqader as a civil engineer.
After 9/11, the FBI took note of Abdulqader’s musical performances at Hamas political festivals, where tens of thousands of dollars had been raised.
On July 26, 2004, Abdulqader was named, along with six other men, in a 42-count indictment of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a pseudo-charity that once served as Hamas’s largest clandestine source of funding in the United States. According to an unsealed arrest warrant affidavit, HLF insiders considered Abdulqader to be one of their outfit’s top fundraisers, sending him all over the world to solicit money destined ultimately for Hamas. In one instance, he returned from a trip to Colombia with $85,000 in hand. Photos in HLF literature show Abdulqader at a table crowded with other volunteers, tabulating donations to the cause.
Abdulqader was fired from his Dallas job following the unsealing of his indictment in the summer of 2004. As he awaited his trial, he occasionally gave religious lectures at a Dallas-area mosque.
On July 23, 2007, Abdulqader and six fellow HLF leaders were charged with twelve counts of providing “material support and resources” to a foreign terrorist organization. Additionally, they faced thirteen counts of money laundering and thirteen counts of breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which prohibits transactions that threaten American national security. Along with the seven named defendants, the government released a list of approximately 300 “unindicted co-conspirators” and “joint venturers.”
On October 22, 2007, after a two-month trial and nineteen days of jury deliberation, Judge A. Joe Fish declared a mistrial because the jury had been unable to deliver unanimous verdicts and had failed to convict on a single count brought against the defendants. When the government retried the case a year later, prosecutors made several key adjustments. Most notably, they dropped some counts against particular defendants; they called several new witnesses; and they displayed three exhibits which Israeli military officials had seized from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Those exhibits demonstrated that the PA, like the U.S. government, clearly considered HLF to be a Hamas funder; that an HLF-supported charity committee was fully controlled by Hamas; and that the defendants were well aware that whatever money they were raising in the U.S. was earmarked for Hamas.
On November 24, 2008, a jury convicted Abdulqader and four other former HLF officials — Shukri Abu-Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohamed El-Mezain, and Abdelrahman Odeh — of charges that included money laundering and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. On May 27, 2009, Abdulqader was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison.
Further Reading: “Hamas’s Rock Star” (Weekly Standard, 2-13-2006)*; “Mufid Abdulqader” (PrisonerSolidarity.net); “Judge Calls Mistrial in Islamic Charity Case” (Reuters, 10-22-2007); “HLF Officials Convicted on All Counts” (InvestigativeProject.org, 11-24-2008); “HLF Redux: Streamlined, With More Punch” (InvestigativeProject.org, 11-12-2008); “Federal Judge Hands Downs Sentences in Holy Land Foundation Case” (Justice.gov, 5-27-2009).
* Portions of this profile are adapted from the article “Hamas’s Rock Star,” written by Todd Bensman and published by The Weekly Standard on February 13, 2006.