Pro-Israel community leaders in Los Angeles are sounding the alarm over a Democratic candidate for the city’s top legal post who has spent several decades working alongside groups accused of supporting terrorism against Israel—and whose far-left views on community policing and crime are so extreme that Democratic representative Karen Bass, who is running to be the city’s mayor, withdrew her endorsement.
Faisal Gill, a libertarian Republican-turned-progressive Democrat, is running to become L.A.’s city attorney, a powerful post that will give him the ability to decide what types of minor crimes are prosecuted. "The city attorney is not elected to defend the police," Gill states on his campaign website. He also says he wants to end cash bail, support safe injection sites, and reduce criminal prosecutions. His views have become a liability for Bass, who pulled her endorsement of Gill as she attempts to distance herself from radical elements in her own party.
Bass withdrew her endorsement after Gill pledged to stop prosecuting certain misdemeanors after 100 days, even as L.A. has experienced a rise in crime and violence in the past couple years. Gill’s campaign advocates the sort of progressive law enforcement policies that have made the upcoming race such a slog for Democrats. Voters have turned on progressive San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin, who was recalled, and Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner, who faces impeachment.
Additionally, pro-Israel community leaders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon said that at a time of rising anti-Semitic violence Gill’s past work with a cadre of Islamist groups tied to terrorism financing is fueling fears.
Gill served as the spokesman for the American Muslim Council, an advocacy group formed with backing from the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-Israel Islamist organization that promotes Jew hatred. The council’s founder, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was sentenced to 23 years in jail in 2004 as part of a terrorism financing case. Gill’s campaign also is receiving financial support from leading members of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an anti-Israel group known for peddling falsehoods about Israel and Jews.
"At a time of rising anti-Semitism in L.A., the thought of Faisal Gill taking charge of enforcing our laws is terrifying for the Jewish community," Adeena Bleich, a community activist and nonprofit leader, told the Free Beacon. "My in-laws fled the horrors of anti-Semitism in Syria in the dark of night; Faisal Gill has decades-long track record of cozying up to people who hold that same ideology. I’m the mother of their descendants. I want my children to be safe, respected, and publicly Jewish."
Howard Welinsky, the former chair and president of Democrats For Israel’s L.A. branch, said these fears are shared by many. "There is a great deal of concern about Mr. Gill’s positions within the pro-Israel community in Los Angeles," Welinsky told the Free Beacon.
Gill has also aligned himself with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is known to be infected by anti-Israel bias and accuses it of being an "apartheid" state. The candidate has attended multiple BLM rallies and is endorsed by the BLM L.A. branch co-founder Melina Abdullah, who has faced accusations of promoting anti-Semitism. Gill has also touted endorsements from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), who claimed that support for Israel is bought and paid for by a pro-Israel lobbying group, as well as Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, who once claimed that U.S. foreign policy is "governed by Israel."
Gill’s campaign is bankrolled by several members of CAIR’s national board of directors. This includes CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad, who has praised anti-Israel terror groups like Hamas and once distributed a pamphlet called, "America’s Greatest Enemy: the Jew and an Unholy Alliance." Several other individuals affiliated with CAIR and other Arab American groups also are listed as donors to Gill.
In 2004, Gill was policy director for the Department on Homeland Security’s intelligence division. During that time, the FBI investigated him for allegedly lying on his national security questionnaire by omitting his work for the American Muslim Council. Gill was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing but left that job a year later.
Federal authorities renewed their interest in Gill between April 2006 and February 2008, when he was investigated by the FBI on suspicions he was possibly aiding and abetting foreign terrorist organizations. Two of Gill’s email addresses were monitored by the law enforcement agency, according to classified information that ultimately leaked into public view.
Gill was never charged with any crime and it remains unclear exactly what the FBI was investigating or how Gill was potentially connected.
"Gill has tried to separate himself from the Islamist affiliations he held during his years working for extremist groups like AMC. Yet, if you take a look at his campaign finance records, you will find that little has changed since his days of working with suspected Al Qaeda financiers and Israel haters," Benjamin Baird, a researcher with the Middle East Forum think-tank who focuses on Islamism and politics, told the Free Beacon. "The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a so-called Muslim civil rights group that federal prosecutors have accused of being a front for Hamas, has also backed Gill in a major way. Nearly every national board member has donated to his campaign, including CAIR Director Nihad Awad, who was secretly monitored along with Gill in a years-long FBI probe."
"Clearly," Baird said, "anti-Semites belonging to the anti-Israel lobby are bankrolling Gill's bid for L.A. city attorney."
Dillon Hosier, an L.A.-based activist who serves as CEO of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network, said he has heard "a lot of concern expressed about Faisal Gill’s campaign amongst many in the pro-Israel and Jewish communities across Los Angeles."
"Many feel that he hasn’t been clear about his past connections with terrorism, not to mention he hasn’t really explained his party changing and flip-flopping on several issues," Hosier told the Free Beacon. "We’re not sure who Faisal Gill really is."