Controversial Cast of Characters

An Al Qaeda leader, the head of a designated terror organization and a jihadist-in-training are among the controversial figures who have participated in weekly prayer sessions on Capitol Hill organized by the Congressional Muslim Staff Association.

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    Anwar al-Awlaki

    Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious Al Qaeda cleric, led a prayer session on Capitol Hill organized by the founders of Congressional Muslim Staffers Association in 2001.
    AP
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    Anwar Hajjaj

    Anwar Hajjaj headed Taibah International Aid Association, a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization and co-founded World Assembly of Muslim Youth with Usama bin Laden's nephew, Abdullah bin Laden. WAMY has been deemed a suspected terrorist organization and a suspected Al Qaeda fundraiser, according to court records. Hajjaj is shown here leading a CMSA prayer service on Capitol Hill in April.
    Roll Call
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    Esam Omeish

    Esam Omeish was forced to resign from the Virginia Commission on Immigration in 2007 when his prior incendiary comments became public. He has called for "the jihad way," spoken in support of suicide bombers and advocated for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. He has led CMSA prayer services on Capitol Hill.
    AP
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    Salam al-Marayati

    Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, spoke at an August 2010, CMSA forum aired on C-SPAN. In 1999, Marayati was forced to step down from a national terrorism committee post after his prior inflammatory statements became public. 
    AP
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    Nihad Awad

    Nihad Awad, (near right) executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), attended a 2001 prayer session on Capitol Hill led by Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. 
    Roll Call
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    Johari Abdul-Malik

    Johari Abdul-Malik is the imam of Dar al-Hijrah, the Virginia mosque where Anwar al-Awlaki once preached. Critics say Malik has made numerous statements in support of members of his mosque convicted on terror-related charges. He has led CMSA prayer services on Capitol Hill. 
    AP
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    Tariq Ramadan

    Tariq Ramadan was banned from the U.S. for six years for his alleged donations to a group now classified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. CMSA hosted a reception for Ramadan in April.
    AP
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    Esam Omeish

    AP
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    Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri

    Abdulaziz Othman Al-Twaijri, the head of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a division of the Organization of Islamic Conference, attended a CMSA briefing in May at the Capitol Visitor Center. 
    Ford School, University of Michigan
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