Prominent Anti-Israel Group's Agent Defended Terrorists in Court

American Muslims for Palestine partners with pro-Palestinian progressive groups for Israeli resistance in the U.S.

Palestinian women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a rally
Palestinian women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a rally / Getty Images
August 26, 2019

A prominent Muslim group that partners with other pro-Palestinian organizations for protests and campaigns against Israel in the United States has an agent who has defended accused terrorists in court, state filings show.

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a nonprofit founded in 2006, states that it was established with the "sole purpose" of educating "the American people and media" on Palestinian issues.

"We work to highlight Israel’s flagrant and continual violations of international law and human rights abuses of Palestinians in the construction of settlements, the apartheid wall and the more than 600 checkpoints, obstacles and other barriers to the freedom of movement," the group writes. "We expose Israel's denial of civil rights to its Palestinian citizens, including a segregated school system, the denial of services to Palestinians living in so-called 'unrecognized villages,' and the prohibition of certain fields of study and careers."

AMP was originally headquartered in Illinois but lists its current contact address as being in Falls Church, Va. The group has chapters in California (the Bay Area and SoCal), Illinois (Chicago), Michigan (Detroit,) Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin.

A search of Virginia records shows that AMP is a fictitious name, or its operating but not legal name, and redirects to the AJP Educational Foundation, which appears to act as the group's fiscal sponsor. AMP also does not appear in a search of tax records. AJP Educational Foundation, which has virtually no online presence, lists the same address in Falls Church as AMP on its most recent tax forms from 2017. The foundation states it is organized as a "public benefit corporation" to "provide funding for publishing books & journals and fostering research on international relations & global human rights." The AJP Educational Foundation reported $790,000 in contributions on the tax documents, which does not disclose its donors.

On Aug. 14, when the Washington Free Beacon first reached out to AMP for comment on this story, including its records in each state, the foundation's status in Illinois was shown as withdrawn. On Aug. 20, when the inquiry to the group was bumped, its records in the state were updated and they now appear as active.

In both its Virginia and Illinois filings, AJP Educational Foundation is marked as a foreign corporation with jurisdiction of formation in California, where AJP is suspended.

Additionally, AJP's status is listed as revoked in its Virginia filings, where the group is currently located. The foundation's agent is marked as Ashraf W. Nubani, a Virginia-based immigration attorney who runs AWN Point Law, a firm that specializes in areas that include green cards, visas, deportation defense, and pathways to citizenship.

Nubani, a Palestinian who came to the United States from Kuwait when he was four years old, has also represented at least "21 people accused of terrorist ties," the Washington Post reported in 2016.

One such individual represented by Nubani was Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law. Abu Ghaith was with bin Laden in the hours following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was accused of "giving voice" to bin-Laden's attempts to recruit young suicide bombers. In 2014, Abu Ghaith was sentenced to life in prison in Manhattan.

Nubani also defended some members of his Northern Virginia mosque, the Dar Al-Hijrah, which in the 2000s was dubbed by outsiders as the Virginia Jihad Network.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted of conspiracy for plotting the assassination of President George W. Bush and providing material support to al Qaeda. Abu Ali is serving life in prison. Another member, Randall "Ismail" Royer, pled guilty to helping Americans join a terrorist group in Kashmir. Royer spent 14 years in prison. Both were represented by Nubani.

Anwar Al-Awlaki, an imam who preached to two of the 9/11 hijackers at the mosque, joined al Qaeda, and was killed in a drone strike.

"I was a part of that community," Nubani told the Post, "and being an attorney, I was a wanted commodity. Everyone needs representation—a child murderer, a rapist, and people ask, how could I even do that? But everyone needs representation."

Nubani declined a request for comment.

American Muslims for Palestine has been active in recent anti-Israel demonstrations and campaigns in the United States alongside other far-left, pro-Palestinian groups.

In 2017, AMP began organizing with IfNotNow (INN), a group that regularly accuses Israel of crimes in the Palestinian territories. Max Berger, a cofounder of IfNotNow who is now the director for progressive partnerships for Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 2020 presidential campaign, previously tweeted that he would "totally be friends with Hamas."

AMP and INN together disrupted the Senate confirmation hearing for David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, in early 2017. Thomas Corcoran, an INN activist, recalled the disruption one year later and referenced Taher Herzallah, the associate director of outreach and grassroots organizing for AMP. "Thank you IfNotNow, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and all of the other powerful movements and leaders that are in this fight," Corcoran wrote.

Shortly after, INN held protests outside of the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., against "the occupation of Palestine and Donald Trump," according to a timeline of the partnership from Canary Mission. While INN was protesting outside the Trump Hotel, AMP was protesting outside the White House. INN then went to the White House and joined AMP.

AMP and INN, along with other pro-Palestinian organizations, also came to the defense of freshman representatives Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) as they came under fire for anti-Semitic remarks.

Members of AMP and INN co-signed a letter with a long list of other far-left leaders in April standing "in solidarity" with Omar and "firmly against the rise of Islamophobic attacks and attempts to divide us as a people." The letter blamed "white supremacy, discrimination, bigotry, and hateful expressions against immigrants, refugees, people of color, and communities of faith" for the attacks against Omar.

Tlaib met with members of AMP in April and was photographed with Joe Catron, who has openly shown support for terrorist organizations. "A tip of my hat to Rashida Tlaib, who really goes above and beyond the call of duty in welcoming every supporter of Palestine to her office, listening to what we have to say, answering our questions, and posing for endless pictures," Catron wrote following the meeting.

In early August, IfNotNow echoed Hamas and blamed a slain Israeli teen for his own murder in the West Bank. The group is also seeking to pressure 2020 Democratic candidates into speaking out against Israel's treatment of Palestinians by ambushing them on camera and then posting it to their Twitter account.

IfNotNow does not disclose its donors. However, a few of its contributors can be gleaned by cross-referencing tax forms of other nonprofits. MoveOn Org Civic Action Fund, for example, gave $50,000 to IfNotNow in 2017, according to its own tax forms. Others, such as the Colombe Peace Foundation, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Apple Pickers Foundation, David L. Klein Jr. Foundation, and the Sanger Family Foundation, also donated to the group in recent years. Tens of thousands of dollars were also passed through the Jewish Communal Fund, a donor-advised fund, since 2015.

The group's most recently available tax forms, which carries a calendar year from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sep. 30, 2018, states that they have trained over 2,000 individuals and "empowered them to be an active part of ending American Jewish communal support for the occupation." The group pulled in $500,000 that calendar year and expanded from 13 to 20 cities.

IfNotNow has also teamed up with other far-left groups including Never Again Action, which has been at the forefront of protesting ICE detainment centers.

"I have to do whatever is in my power to disrupt ICE, to close the camps, to provide permanent protection, and to ensure that Never Again means Never Again," said Rebecca Oliver, an organizer with INN who is also a participant in Never Again Action. Never Again has likened the United States' treatment of migrants to that of the Nazis' treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

AMP did not respond to numerous requests for comment. IfNotNow also did not respond to inquiries.

Samantha Mandeles of Legal Insurrection Foundation contributed to this report.