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FOX: Muslim Prayers on Capitol Hill Included Al-Qaeda Leader and 'Jihadist-in-Training

“There is a pattern of seriously bad actors not just being involved with, but leading this organization."

Every Friday on Capitol Hill a group of Muslims called the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) gathers for weekly "Jummah" prayers. They've been doing so for over a decade, and officially since 2006 when they got sponsorship from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)* and now Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). And while overt problems have not been a problem for the group in the past, the group is now coming under fire for some of its invited guests.

An investigative report released Friday by Fox News shows that past prayer participants include "an al-Qaeda leader, the head of a designated terror organization, and a confessed jihadist-in-training."

The list of troubling guests during the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations, says Fox, includes:

  • Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious Al Qaeda cleric believed to be hiding in Yemen and the lone American on the U.S. government’s capture or kill list, who conducted a prayer service on Capitol Hill shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Randall “Ismail” Royer, a former communications associate for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who confessed in 2004 to receiving jihadist training in Pakistan. He is serving a 20-year prison term.
  • Anwar Hajjaj, former president of Taibah International Aid Association, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and U.N. in 2004. [Seen as a guest speaker in the video above]
  • Esam Omeish, the former president of the Muslim American Society, who was forced to resign from the Virginia Commission on Immigration in 2007 after calling for "the jihad way," among other remarks.
  • Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was forced to step down from a national terrorism committee post in 1999 for pro-terrorist comments.
  • Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director, who attended a Hamas meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 that was wiretapped by the FBI.
  • Johari Abdul Malik, Dar al-Hijrah imam, who made statements in support of convicted and suspected terrorists who attended his mosque.
  • Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim scholar banned from the U.S. for six years beginning in 2004 for his alleged ties and donations to terror groups. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lifted Ramadan's ban in January.
  • Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri, the head of a division of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, considered a foreign agent by the U.S.

While Fox admits that determining those who have attended the prayer services is not as easy as looking up a gust book, it found other ways to determine attendees:

It is unclear who else has attended these services, because there appears to be no public record of those CMSA has invited to Capitol Hill. The group’s website, included in the official congressional staff associations directory, displays an error message. And out of the more than 25 people associated with CMSA whom FoxNews.com contacted for this article — members, participants, guests, listed officers, congressional sponsors and Muslim advocacy groups — only one person was willing to speak. ...

But a portrait of the Jummah prayer meetings can be gleaned through video footage, news reports, court records and social media posts. And what emerges is a "Who’s Who" of controversial characters cycling through the doors of the Capitol on the invite of CMSA.

“There is a pattern of seriously bad actors not just being involved with, but leading this organization,” Patrick Poole, an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the U.S. military, told Fox.

“There really needs to be some kind of investigation into who else CMSA is or has been bringing onto the Hill.”

Read Fox's extensive report.

*This story originally described Rep. Ellison as a Republican.

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