Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Known Hizballah Agent demands apology from McCain

From Robert Spencer's May 6, 2008

Michigan: Muslim community leader wants apology from McCain after being dropped from finance committee over alleged Hizballah ties
"Jawad said he was not forced into resigning. He asked to be removed from the committee after receiving two calls from the McCain campaign inquiring about the allegations and questioning his integrity and loyalty to this country."

Why not answer the questions? This story gives little detail about the nature of Ali Jawad's connection to Hizballah, but a wealth of information can be found at Debbie Schlussel's site A few highlights:

Ali Jawad and his company, Armada Oil, were convicted of insurance and mail fraud in federal court and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines. Michael Mustapha Makki, Jawad's co-defendant--also convicted--in the case, USA v. Makki et al, is a member of the Makki family, many members of which were convicted of cigarette smuggling for Hezbollah. [...]
Jawad isn't shy about his support for Hezbollah. He defended Ali and Mohamed "Mike" Boumelhem, when they were caught by U.S. Customs agents trying to smuggle weapons to Canada and ultimately to Hezbollah. And he told The Detroit News that the terrorist group, which murdered more Americans than any other besides Al-Qaeda, isn't a terrorist group: 'Killing innocent people -- we reject that. Hezbollah does not fit this category. It has protected its people'.

Jawad is known as one of the most important agents of Hezbollah in the U.S. He is related (through his brother's marriage into the Safieddine family) to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and the man Iran has designated as Nasrallah's heir apparent, Hachem Safieddine (currently a member of the 7-member Hezbollah ruling council, the Shurah Al-Karar). The Jawad and Safieddine families have many business dealings together. Both Ali Jawad and the Safieddines own many gas stations throughout the Detroit area. Armada Oil--of which Jawad is CEO--also distributes gas to gas stations throughout the Detroit area.There is much more at Schlussel's website:

Now, can you see where this might make the McCain campaign a bit uncomfortable? It's a little hard to look tough on national security with a person with so many unanswered questions about his own standing with respect to national security serving on one's state campaign finance committee. And the fact that Jawad's background was not cleared or investigated beforehand by any prior campaign or by the party is also a political liability.
"Arab-American leader wants McCain's apology," from the Associated Press, May 6:

DEARBORN, Michigan - Arab- and Muslim-American leaders said Monday they want John McCain's campaign to apologize for severing ties with an Arab-American businessman serving on the Republican presidential candidate's Michigan finance committee.
Ali Jawad, founder of the Lebanese American Heritage Club, was listed with five other finance committee members on an invitation to a $2,300-per-person (Ð1,490) fundraising dinner McCain plans to attend Tuesday in Oakland County.

Jawad and his supporters said during a news conference that he was asked to resign from the committee after Michigan blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote that he had ties to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. They said her comments they said were based on rumor and innuendo.

Note that the previous paragraph and the first paragraph contradict the final paragraph below.

We do not want a president who makes a decision ... based on false information,' said Osama Siblani, president of the Arab American Political Action Committee and publisher of the Arab American News. This is an insult to every Arab-American and Muslim-American in the country.'

Requests for comment were left Monday afternoon with the McCain campaign.

Besides an apology, Siblani said Jawad's supporters also want McCain to ask the businessman to rejoin the finance committee. Jawad said it would be premature to say whether he would accept such a request.

Jawad told The Associated Press Monday evening that the accusations by Schlussel were false, including any links to Hezbollah. On one particular trip to Lebanon, he said, he met with the U.S. ambassador, who arranged all his appointments with the president and members of parliament.

This is our country by choice,' he said. We're patriotic Americans, as much as anyone else.'

McCain plans to be in Michigan for Tuesday's fundraiser and plans to hold a town hall meeting with supporters Wednesday morning at a local university. There are over 300,000 people in southeast Michigan who trace their roots to the Middle East.

Monday's news conference was held at the Lebanese American Heritage Club in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb widely considered to be the center of Arab America.

Jawad is president of Dearborn-based Armada Oil and Gas Co. He moved to the United States in 1976. A Republican, he said he has contributed to Republican candidates as well as Democrats such as Michigan Sen. Carl Levin.

Schlussel said among her concerns about Jawad were two federal cases involving him and his company: He was convicted in 1997 in U.S. District Court in Detroit for insurance fraud and sentenced to probation. His company was convicted the same year of mail fraud and was ordered to pay more than $250,000 in fines and restitution.
She also alleges that he has met with Hezbollah leaders and Hezbollah-allied members of the Lebanese parliament on two trips to Lebanon.

John McCain did the right thing by asking Ali Jawad to leave,' she said.

For his part, Jawad said he was not forced into resigning. He asked to be removed from the committee after receiving two calls from the McCain campaign inquiring about the allegations and questioning his integrity and loyalty to this country.'

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