Virginia Lawmaker Connected to Anti-Semitic Groups

Tied to Hamas propaganda and fundraising group the Islamic Association for Palestine

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May 21, 2019

A member of the Virginia legislature and former volunteer for Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) is connected to multiple anti-Semitic organizations and is the son of a Hamas fundraiser.

Del. Ibraheem Samirah (D.)—who received sympathetic national coverage this week after alleging harassment for his Muslim faith at a town hall—has supported multiple virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organizations, once speaking at a Hamas-affiliated conference.

Samirah is a vocal supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to use economic and political pressure against Israel. In a 2014 Facebook post, Samirah urged friends to support the BDS movement while Israel was "most exposed."

As a student at American University and then Boston University, Samirah was an active member of Students for Justice in Palestine. He credits the organization with helping convince students that "Israel REALLY sucks."

SJP relies heavily on American Muslims for Palestine, of which Samirah is also a part, for funds and logistics. According to 2016 testimony from Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, "AMP is arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine."

AMP's founder and president is Hatem Bazian. He also founded SJP. Bazian has a history of deeply anti-Semitic comments and conspiracies. In 2004, Bazian spoke at a fundraiser for an organization the U.S. Treasury determined was fundraising for Hamas.

In a 2017 post, Samirah pledged "sizeable" funds and linked to a page of AMP talking points. The page warns that "Zionist Jews" are trying to take over Jerusalem. In 2018, Samirah spoke at an AMP conference in Chicago alongside Bazian.

The Anti-Defamation League traces AMP's roots to a Hamas propaganda and fundraising group called the Islamic Association for Palestine. IAP's stated goal, according to internal documents, was to "increase the financial and the moral support for Hamas." One 1992 IAP document describes "publicizing and focusing on the savagery of the Jews" as a key fundraising tactic. According to Matthew Levitt, a terrorism scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, IAP operated as Hamas's mouthpiece in the United States. Hamas is a terror organization responsible for the deaths of Americans. Its charter explicitly calls for the killing of Jews, not just Israelis.

According to a memo by the FBI released as part of a 2007 case against IAP, a former employee confirmed the organization funneled roughly $3 million per year to Hamas via the Holy Land Foundation. The court ruled in 2008 that IAP could be held responsible for knowingly supporting a murderous organization when it directed funds to Hamas.

A 2000 document from IAP's fourth annual convention lists Samirah's father, Dr. Sabri Ibrahim Samirah, as chairman of IAP's board of directors. He also appears on the board of trustees and executive committee of a separate organization that supports IAP.

Dr. Samirah resided in the United States illegally. According to court documents from 2010, he overstayed his student visa, unlawfully working and obtaining a new invalid visa. Dr. Samirah traveled to Jordan to visit a relative who fell ill in 2002, when authorities barred his return on national security grounds. According to court documents, the Department of Homeland Security deemed Dr. Samirah a "security risk."

While abroad, Dr. Samirah ran for Jordan's parliament in 2016. Al Jazeera describes him as a "leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan." He also served as spokesman for the Islamic Action Front, a Jordanian political party.

Dr. Samirah believes he has a mission "to support the struggle of our people back there in order to achieve a free land in the Muslim world." This "struggle," according to Dr. Samirah, includes the military invasion of Israel.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Dr. Samirah called for the Jordanian military to attack Israel. "I am so proud to be a Jordanian," he says. "And I ask my government and my army to help liberate Jerusalem and Hebron and all those cities that were occupied." (Jordan and Israel signed a formal peace treaty in 1994.)

A 2010 U.S. court decision allowed Dr. Samirah's return to the country on a technicality, finding that he had a right to remain stateside while the immigration system reviewed his unlawful alien status. Judge Richard Posner's opinion in the case describes a "possible (though only, as far as we know, a rumored) link to Hamas."

Had prosecutors provided available evidence of Dr. Samirah's terror ties, the judge said, it could have lawfully barred him from the country. "[I]f indeed he's a threat to the security of the United States," Posner wrote, "he can be subjected to removal or perhaps even to criminal proceedings upon his return to this country and can be detained until those proceedings are completed."

"No one has told us what kind of 'security risk' the plaintiff is," the judge complained. "The government points to no facts or reasoning that might support the immigration service's refusal to allow him to return to the United States. No evidence is mentioned that might connect him to Hamas."

As recently as December 2018, Samirah described himself as "being inspired by my father." According to screenshots of Arabic Facebook posts, he also praised his father for teaching him to "dedicate my life to the liberation of Palestine."

Samirah hopes to win reelection later this year.

A request for comment from Del. Samirah was not returned by press time.