In June, a flurry of press coverage in Western New York reported on the close relationship between District Attorney William Hochul and local Muslim leader Khalid Qazi. Vows of mutual respect and support were exchanged between Hochul and Qazi, and so were ceremonial awards. The Department of Justice gave Qazi its Attorney General’s Citizen Volunteer Service Award for Community Service at a June 5 ceremony. Qazi reciprocated by honoring DA Hochul at the 10th Anniversary banquet of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, of which he is the founder and Senior Adviser. Also present at the banquet were Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and William Hochul’s wife, Kathy Hochul, a former Congresswoman currently running for lieutenant governor of New York on Andrew Cuomo’s ticket.
But Dr. Khalid Qazi is far from the moderate Muslim-American leader portrayed by Hochul and in the Buffalo media. In fact, a just-released video by Americans for Peace and Tolerance shows that Qazi has a long history of Islamic extremist activity, including raising money for an Al Qaeda charity and serving as a director of a Pakistani intelligence operation aimed at buying influence with American politicians.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul should be well-aware of Qazi’s background since his own Justice Department has over the past decade investigated and prosecuted several of Qazi’s close associates, as well as helped shut down several groups that Qazi had worked with led in an official capacity.
Global Relief Foundation
On February 26, 2000, Dr. Khalid Qazi travelled to Boston, Massachusetts to raise money for an Al Qaeda charity, the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), at Boston University. The fundraiser, organized by the Islamic Society of Boston University, was ostensibly to raise money for those affected by the conflict in Kashmir.
Dr. Qazi was warmly introduced by the GRF’s founder, Hazem Ragab, who was already being watched by the FBI at the time. Shortly after his fundraiser with Qazi, the FBI approached Ragab for questioning. Ragab fled the United States, presumably to avoid prosecution for his role in running GRF. On December 14, 2011 the FBI raided GRF and shut it down as an Al Qaeda charity.
At the fundraiser, Qazi congratulated “all the brothers at Global Relief for the wonderful work they are doing around the Muslim world.” He made his political sympathies clear in his presentation and told the crowd at Boston University that one day, with the help of their donations to Global Relief, India will be chased out of Kashmir. He also referred to the Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadi terrorists operating in Kashmir as “freedom fighters.”
Kashmiri American Council
Khalid Qazi attended the GRF fundraiser as the director of a non-profit group, the Kashmiri American Council (KAC). Dr. Qazi has led the Kashmiri American Council as a board member since the 1990s. On July 19th, 2011, the group’s president was arrested and charged by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice with acting as a foreign agent and covering up his activities through “tricks, schemes, and devices.” The Kashmiri American Council was identified by the FBI as an American front group for the Pakistani ISI intelligence agency, set up to buy influence American politicians and “propagandize on behalf of the Pakistani government with the goal of uniting Kashmir” with Pakistan.
The FBI alleged that Dr. Qazi’s KAC had funneled 4 million dollars of ISI money since the mid-1990s for the purpose of promoting ISI’s agenda among American politicians and civic leaders. The ISI is notorious for supporting Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists operating in Kashmir. It has been accused of assisting the terror group Lashkar-e-Taibah in carrying out the 2009 Mumbai attacks, and might even have helped harbor Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Yet just two months before the FBI exposed Qazi’s organization as an ISI front, William Hochul held a surreal press conference with Qazi to tell the community that he and Qazi “have a very long tradition of working here in Western New York together and we will continue that.”
American Muslim Council
The Kashmiri American Council is not the only organization connected to terrorism that Qazi has led. Before he founded the Western New York chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Qazi was the Executive Director of the American Muslim Council chapter in Western New York. While Dr. Qazi was in Boston raising money for an Al Qaeda charity, his boss at the time, American Muslim Council founder Abdulrahman Alamoudi was in Washington, DC, expressing his support for Hamas and Hizbullah.
The American Muslim Council no longer functions – Abdulrahman Alamoudi was arrested on terrorism charges in 2003 and is now serving a 23 year prison sentence for conspiring to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince. At his trial, Federal prosecutors accused Alamoudi of being the most important Al Qaeda fundraiser in America. Yet just like Dr. Qazi now, before his arrest, Alamoudi was respected in the highest reaches of society and government. In 2002, a spokesman for FBI Director Robert Mueller described Alamoudi and Qazi’s AMC as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States.” In 2003, shortly before Alamoudi’s arrest, a group of Catholic bishops called the AMC, “the premier, mainstream Muslim group in Washington.” Are Dr. Qazi and MPAC being similarly mistaken for moderates?
Muslim Public Affairs Council
MPAC has its own skeletons in the closet. MPAC’s President, Salam Al-Marayati, who was the featured speaker at the banquet honoring William Hochul, demanded just a few hours after 9/11 that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list.” MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming, Edina Lecovic, was the editor of a UCLA Muslim student magazine, when it published an article praising Osama Bin Laden as a “great Mujahid” and a “freedom fighter.” MPAC attempts to portray itself as the ideal partner for law-enforcement agencies but whenever these agencies arrest people on terror-related causes, MPAC criticizes the arrests and accuses these same agencies of Islamophobia.
What is happening in Buffalo? How can the top law enforcement official in Western New York respect and promote someone with such extremist connections and deeds? District Attorney William Hochul and the Department of Justice need to do their homework, end all collaborative relationships with Khalid Qazi and MPAC, rescind all DoJ and FBI awards to Qazi, and institute guidelines for vetting interfaith community partners for extremist ties going forward. It would be nice also, if they would explain themselves to the citizens who pay their salaries. How could this possibly have happened?