Tlaib Donor Praised Terror Backer Who Called for New Holocaust

Rashida Tlaib
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) / Getty Images
January 29, 2020

A Muslim community leader accused of having financial ties to Hamas donated to Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (D., Mich.) campaign last month, records show.

Salah Sarsour, an alleged Hamas sympathizer who once boasted about meeting a Muslim Brotherhood leader known for advocating violence against Jews, donated $1,000 to Tlaib's reelection campaign on Dec. 12, the Federal Election Commission's website shows. He also donated $500 on Sept. 29 to Democratic congressional candidate Rush Darwish, a Palestinian American who supports boycotts against Israel.

Sarsour is a national board member of American Muslims for Palestine, a group the Anti-Defamation League has described as "the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country."

Sarsour has been an outspoken critic of Israel. He once posted on his Facebook page in support of radical Egyptian preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Al-Qaradawi has advocated terrorism against Israel and has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organization designated as a terrorist group by several countries.

In 2016, Sarsour posted a clip on his personal Facebook page of al-Qaradawi speaking. Sarsour included a caption on the post praising the preacher for bringing people "closer to Allah with love and knowledge." He also recalled meeting al-Qaradawi three times and said he "kissed" the preacher's hand during their last encounter.

Al-Qaradawi, who is banned from visiting the United States, has a long history of espousing hatred toward Israel and calling for Jews to be killed. During a 2009 speech that aired on Al Jazeera, al-Qaradawi said he wants Muslims to be responsible for the next Holocaust, adding he "will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus I will seal my life with martyrdom."

Sarsour also mourned in a Facebook post the death of Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the late Muslim Brotherhood leader who called the Holocaust a "myth" and said Israel is a "cancer to root out."

The Tlaib campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A receptionist at Sarsour’s office said Sarsour’s attorney would be in contact on his behalf.

Sarsour and his family were mentioned at a 2016 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, which shed light on organizations that have been targeted by the U.S. government for terrorism finance violations.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the Treasury Department, testified at the time that Sarsour's past is a "concern" and said members of Sarsour's family have similarly expressed support for terror leaders.

"Sarsour's brother, Jamil Sarsour, told Israeli authorities that he and Salah used their Milwaukee furniture store's bank account to pass money to Adel Awadallah, who was then a leader of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing," Schanzer's testimony said. "According to Jamil, Salah Sarsour and Awadallah had become friends while sharing a prison cell. Salah Sarsour spent eight months in jail in Israel for his Hamas activity." Jamil Sarsour spent four years in an Israeli jail.

Sarsour's brothers, Imad and Jamil, both donated to Tlaib's campaign in 2018. Imad donated $300 and Jamil donated $500.

Salah Sarsour, who owns a furniture store in Milwaukee, was reportedly named in a 2001 FBI memo to the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control by his brother Jamil, who said he cooperated with Israeli authorities after being arrested in 1998 for alleged financial ties to Hamas.

When arrested, Jamil Sarsour was allegedly carrying $66,530 in cash and had two American passports in his possession, according to the FBI document referenced by Schanzer in his testimony.

During the interview with Israeli authorities, Jamil reportedly admitted that Salah and Imad were involved in raising money for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a now-defunct charity the FBI deemed a financial pass-through group for Hamas. The charity was convicted of several charges in 2008, including 10 counts of conspiracy to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization.