Omar Ahmad

Omar Ahmad


* Former President of the Islamic Association for Palestine
* Co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
* Closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood & Hamas
* Defender of Islamic supremacy


Omar Ahmad (a.k.a. Omar Yehya/Yehia) was born in 1959 in the Al Wahdat Camp for Palestinian refugees in Amman, Jordan. His parents were 1948 refugees from Innaba, a Palestinian village near the city of Ramleh.

Ahmad earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Long Beach State University (LBSU) in 1982, and a master’s degree in that same field from Santa Clara University in 1987. After leaving LBSU, he worked for 13 years with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Silicon Valley semiconductor manufacturer in Sunnyvale, California, and then with two other technology firms in the San Jose area. During his time at AMD, Ahmad, a Muslim, became active in a major Sunnyvale mosque, occasionally delivering Friday sermons there. For years thereafter, he continued to give sermons on most Fridays, often as a guest speaker at some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s 70+ mosques.

Ties to Radical Islam

Beginning in the early 1990s, Ahmad was a senior executive with the Palestine Committee (PC), which was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to serve as an umbrella organization of U.S.-based Hamas support groups tasked with disseminating propaganda on behalf of the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-93). When Brotherhood leader Mohamed Akram in 1991 put together a diagram of the PC’s executive leaders, Ahmad (a.k.a. Omar Yehya) was listed second. Moreover, Ahmad’s California phone number appeared in an APC phonebook.

From 1993-94, Ahmad served as national president of the Hamas-linked Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), one of the Palestine Committee’s primary component organizations.

In a 2000 article titled “Muslim-Americans in Mainstream Media,” Hamas supporter Nihad Awad recounted how he and Ahmad in the early 1990s had discussed the possibility of leaving IAP and together establishing a new activist organization. According to Awad, Ahmad “suggested to me that we leave the IAP and concentrate on combating anti-Muslim discrimination nationwide. He proposed that I move to Washington, D.C., where any effective national effort would have to be based, while he tried to raise the seed money for the project.”

The 1993 Palestine Committee Meeting in Philadelphia

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism: “Ahmad planned, convened, and moderated an October 1993 meeting of the Palestine Committee in Philadelphia, where Committee members discussed ways to ‘derail’ a U.S.-led peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. The group knew that their Hamas support was problematic [from a public-relations standpoint]. They agreed to reference the group as sister ‘Samah’ [Hamas spelled backward] and warned each other that the U.S. had proposed legislation that would designate Hamas as a terror organization.”

When Ahmad personally convened this Palestine Committee gathering on October 2, 1993, he said: “This meeting was called for by the Palestine Committee in order to have a seminar or a meeting to the brothers present here today in order to study the situation in light of the latest developments on the Palestinian arena, its effects and impact on our work here in America.” Ahmad then led a discussion about who would serve as the presenters at each of the Philadelphia meeting’s various sessions.

Credit-card records show that Haitham Maghawri, a member of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) — a Hamas-funding peudo-charity that was also a major constituent of the Palestine Committee — used money from HLF’s corporate account to pay for Ahmad’s round-trip plane ticket from Dallas to Philadelphia and back.

FBI wiretap recordings of the Philadelphia meeting that Ahmad organized were analyzed as follows in an FBI action memorandum:

“The overall goal of the meeting was to develop a strategy to defeat the Israeli/Palestinian peace accord, and to continue and improve their [HAMAS] fund-raising and political activities in the United States … [where] they could raise funds, propagate their political goals, affect public opinion and influence decision-making of the U.S. Government…. In discussing financial matters the participants stated a belief that continuation of the Holy War was inevitable. It was decided that most or almost all of the funds collected in the future should be directed to enhance the Islamic Resistance Movement [HAMAS]…. Holy War efforts should be supported by increasing spending on the injured, the prisoners and their families, and the martyrs and their families.”

The FBI recordings showed that throughout the Philadelphia meeting, Ahmad was involved in leading the sessions, enforcing time limits for speakers, and answering various questions raised by other attendees. He also emphasized to the attendees the importance of concealing, from the American public and government, their ties to Hamas. While candidly acknowledging that Hamas had “always demanded the 1948 territories” that now constituted much of modern-day Israel, Ahmad agreed with one participant who stated: “We don’t say that publicly. You cannot say that publicly, in front of the Americans.” “No,” Ahmad concurred. “We didn’t say that to the Americans.”

Moreover, FBI recordings of a phone call in which Ahmad participated proved that although he had never been an HLF official, he was fully aware of HLF’s fundraising specifics – e.g., he noted that a recent HLF fundraiser in Phoenix had collected almost $10,000.

At the 1993 Philadelphia meeting as well, Ahmad suggested making IAP publications – which were decidedly pro-Hamas and pro-terrorism — “the main and popular source of information about Palestine.”

The Creation of CAIR in 1994

In June 1994, Ahmad initiated the establishment of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), recruiting Nihad Awad (who had also attended the 1993 Philadelphia meeting) and Rafeeq Jaber as his co-founders. The “seed money” for CAIR’s creation came from HLF in the form of a check for $5,000.

Ahmad would go on to serve as CAIR’s national chairman until 2005, and as a board member of both CAIR-National and CAIR-California until 2009.

Participation in National Convention of the American Muslim Alliance

In 1996 in Boston, Ahmad participated in the first national convention of the American Muslim Alliance along with leaders from many other national Islamic political organizations. At the event’s final session, an audience member asked Ahmad and those other Muslims if they thought that Islamic groups in the U.S. should urge their members to vote as a bloc in the upcoming presidential election between Democrat incumbent Bill Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole. All of the respondents agreed unanimously in favor of a bloc vote.

Another questioner asked Omar and his fellow Islamic leaders: “In the 1996 presidential election, should the Muslim organizations recommend the Democratic or the Republican candidate?” Omar replied:

“I don’t see that we have any choice. The opposition [by which he meant the Israel lobby’s array of American Zionist organizations] is doing everything it can to support the Democrat. If Bill Clinton wins, they will take the credit and it will increase their power nationally, which is bad not just for us, but for the entire United States. So if we support Clinton, too, people will say, ‘So what? The Zionists got him elected.’  But, if we support Bob Dole [who already was trailing in the polls], if he wins we will get credit for helping turn things around, and even if he loses we will have demonstrated that we can turn out our community to vote and that our community picks the best-qualified candidate according to our issues, and doesn’t just try to climb on the bandwagon of the candidate leading in the polls.’”

Discouraging Muslim Assimilation & Promoting Islamic Supremacy

On July 4, 1998, a news story by journalist Lisa Gardiner in the San Ramon Valley Herald reported on a speech by Ahmad titled How Should We, As Muslims, Live in America? — in which he urged local Muslims to refrain from assimilating into U.S. society, and to view their Muslim faith as superior to all other religions. Wrote Gardiner: “Those who stay in America should be ‘open to society without melting (into it),’ keeping mosques open so anyone can come and learn about Islam, he [Ahmad] said. ‘If you choose to live here (in America)… you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam,’ he said. Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant, he said. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth, he said.”

Supporter of Suicide Bombings

During a youth session at the Islamic Association for Palestine’s third annual convention in Chicago in November 1999, Ahmad delivered a speech praising suicide bombers: “Someone in Islam is allowed to fight…. Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam—that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.”

Board Member of American Muslims for Jerusalem

Around that same time, Ahmad became involved as a board member with the Washington, D.C.-based American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), which — with the support of such groups as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) — was established as a nonprofit spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine in May 1999. “I see AMJ as an activist organization willing to work with everybody,” said Ahmad. “The Muslim community everywhere in the world is very united on the issue of Jerusalem. When I talk about it, I see tears in the eyes of many Muslims who are not Arabs.”

Denouncing U.S. Government’s Decision to Shutter the Holy Land Foundation

At an October 26, 2002 fundraiser, Ahmad denounced the U.S. government’s decision to shut down the HLF, characterizing the measure as an assault on the Muslim community in America. “Our…organizations have been shut down,” he complained, “some in the northern Virginia area, some of them in Dallas, charitable organizations and they are begging to belong….We [Muslims] are under attack…We are under the squeeze.”

Falsely Claiming Not to Remember the 1993 Philadelphia Meeting

In a May 2003 deposition, Ahmad initially claimed that he could not “recall” attending the 1993 Palestine Committee meeting in Philadelphia, but FBI recordings of that event proved that he had not only attended it, but he had actually planned and moderated it. Also during the deposition, Ahmad was asked, “Do you support Hamas?” He replied, “It depends. Qualify ‘support.’” When he was then asked whether he advocated Hamas’ “political line,” Ahmad answered “no.”

Stepping Down from CAIR’ Board of Directors

Ahmad stepped down from his post as chairman of CAIR’s board of directors in May 2005 and was replaced by Parvez Ahmed. Soon thereafter, the organization changed Ahmad’s status on its national website from “chairman” to “chairman emeritus” — a title usually given out of respect for someone who has retired. Ahmad would continue, however, to serve actively on the boards of both CAIR-National and CAIR-California until 2009.

Claimimg Not to Recall His 1998 Statements Rejecting Muslim Assimilation & Promoting Islamic Supremacy

In 2006, when Ahmad was drawing scrutiny for his suspected ties to the Holy Land Foundation, media outlets gave coniderable attention to the aforementioned 1998 quotes in which he had said that: (a) American Muslims should be “open to society without melting (into it)”; (b) “if you choose to live here (in America)… you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam”; (c) Islam should be dominant over all other faiths in America; and (d) the Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth. Ahmad called the quotes a “total fabrication,” but Lisa Gardiner, the journalist who had originally reported them, affirmed—with what she described as 100% certainty—the veracity of her original account. “She’s lying,” Ahmad retorted. “Absolutely, she’s lying. How could you remember something from so long ago? I don’t even remember her in the audience…. It is not my stance, it is not what I believe in.”

“Unindicted Co-Conspirator” of the Holy Land Foundation

In the Holy Land Foundation trials of 2007 and 2008 — which looked into evidence of HLF’s fundraising on behalf of Hamas — the U.S. Department of Justice included Ahmad on its list of approximately 300 of HLF’s “unindicted co-conspirators” and “joint venturers.”

Ahmad’s close ties to HLF were evidenced by a number of past interactions that came to light during the HLF trials. For example:

  • In February 1994, Ahmad had called for a teleconference during which he tried to resolve a fundraising dispute between HLF and a Hamas activist.
  • In a 1999 phone call with HLF executive Shukri Abu Baker, Ahmad had negotiated the amount of money that HLF would be required to pay one of its officials, Mohammed El-Mezain, for a number of fundraising trips he had made in recent years.
  • Also in 1999, Ahmad had spoken with HLF official Haitham Maghawri regarding tens of thousands of dollars that Shukri Abu Baker had previously promised to pay Ahmad for his work on a particular project.

When the Holy Land Foundation and five of its executives were convicted in November 2008 of having steered millions of dollars to the coffers of Hamas, Ahmad persisted in defending HLF.

Claiming that Muslims in America Were Being Persecuted

One month after the Holy Land Foundation verdict was handed down, Ahmad spoke at the 14th Annual Banquet of CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where he lamented: “A lot of [Muslim] people are in jail – Sami al-Arian is an example. The Holy Land Foundation case. No evidence whatsoever; nothing. They label you a terrorist and you’re a threat.”

U.S. Government Suspends Its Relationship with CAIR

In late 2008, the U.S. government, citing evidence from the HLF trial, suspended its formal relationship with CAIR.

Ahmad Retires as CAIR’s Chairman Emeritus

In May 2009, Ahmad retired from his post as CAIR’s chairman emeritus.

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