In an effort to explain his representation of numerous clients charged with terrorism, attorney Khurrum Wahid claimed his national security clearance played a major role. In a recent Facebook video Wahid bragged, “I’ve been a zealous advocate supporting and fighting for the Constitution, fighting for Civil Rights for almost twenty years as an attorney.” Yet, when it comes to providing details of his clients, Wahid appears to forget the First Amendment/Freedom of the Press. Last week, REDBROWARD revealed a Sun-Sentinel profile of Wahid, and his fellow candidates for the Coral Springs City Commission, was edited to remove facts about his legal work for suspects tied to al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.
In April, Lisa Huriash of the Sun-Sentinel gave specifics regarding Khurrum Wahid’s legal work. She wrote, “[Wahid] is one of the nation’s most well-known at handling high-profile terrorism cases.” The initial report gave details regarding his cases, including a Boca Raton doctor as well as “al-Qaida militants.” Wahid and his campaign immediately cried foul.
On April 29th, Wahid issued a statement attacking the Sun-Sentinel story. He said, “Thanks to the rise of ISLAMOPHOBIA in our country, I find myself yet again needing to set the record straight for no other reason than that, as a criminal defense attorney, I have fought fiercely to defend the Constitution….”
Wahid did not deny representing the terrorism suspects. He said, “I am proud of the work I and other attorneys do when we tackle such complex legal matters and do so with the understanding we are the last line of defense upholding the Constitution even when the accused is unpopular.”
Then, Wahid claimed these cases were singled out because he is Muslim. Wahid said, “[M]y involvement in these cases is held under a microscope and called into question. This has not been the case with any of the Christians, Jews, or Buddhists lawyers who worked with me on these cases.”
On May 2, the online version of Huriash’s profile was changed. Days later, these changes were reflected in the print edition.
Khurrum Wahid was no longer referred to as one of the “nation’s most well-known” terrorism lawyers. Now, the story added his representation of white collar criminals into the mix.
All references to Boca Raton doctor Rafiq Sabir and his material support of “al-Qaida militants” were removed entirely. An “al-Qaeda” tag on the story was also removed.
In a new quote, Wahid tried to explain his role in terrorism cases. “Still, he said, ensuring the civil rights of people accused of even the worst crimes is what defense attorneys do,” the Sun-Sentinel wrote. “[Wahid] has security clearance, so the many high-profile federal cases are often sent to him.”
The Sun-Sentinel wrote one of Wahid’s cases making “national news” involved a “suspect accused of plotting to assassinate a former President in 2005.”
The suspect was named Ahmed Omar Abu Ali.
HE’S A POLITE KID
In June 2003, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American citizen, was arrested in Saudi Arabia. During questioning by Saudi authorities, Abu Ali said, “he joined the al-Qaeda cell ‘to prepare and train for an operation inside the [United States],’ including an ‘intention to prepare and train to kill the [United States] President.’ In addition to written confessions, the Mabahith obtained a videotaped confession in which Abu Ali admitted his affiliation with the Medina cell and its plans to conduct terrorist operations within the United States, including the plan to assassinate President Bush and to destroy airliners destined to this country.”
In February 2005, Abu Ali was indicted by a Federal grand jury. Soon after, Saudi Arabia returned Ali to the United States.
According to a November 18, 2005 Washington Post report, Abu Ali’s lawyer, Khurrum Wahid said, “He’s a polite kid.”
Days later, Abu Ali was convicted on “nine criminal counts arising from his affiliation with an al-Qaeda terrorist cell located in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and its plans to carry out a number of terrorist acts in this country. He was sentenced by the district court to 360 months imprisonment and 360 months of supervised release following imprisonment.”
Surely, an American citizen joining al-Qaeda to assassinate President George Bush is the very definition of a what Wahid calls a “high-profile Federal case.”
If you were to believe the Sun-Sentinel profile, Wahid’s involvement with Abu Ali began when he was assigned the case due to his security clearance.
WAHID LACKED SECURITY CLEARANCE IN 2005
In August 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported, “The judge in the case of an American student accused of joining Al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush said Monday he possessed evidence that could help the defendant, but that he couldn’t give it to defense lawyers because they lacked required security clearances.” According to the report, one of the lawyers was denied a security clearance. “Ashraf Nubani, applied for a security clearance but his request was denied last week. He said he was not given a reason for the denial,” the LA Times reported.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Lee wanted to appoint a lawyer with security clearance to the defense team, “But Khurrum Wahid, another of Abu Ali’s lawyers, questioned the practicality of such an arrangement, given that any lawyer with clearances would still be unable to share the information with the rest of the defense team.”
In its June 2008 opinion, the United States Court Of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, wrote, “After Abu Ali was indicted, Attorney Khurrum Wahid and Attorney Ashraf Nubani appeared to represent him. However, because one failed to apply for security clearance and the other was not approved by the Department of Justice, neither attorney was authorized to view the classified documents. On September 8, 2005, the district court, informed that the case would involve national security interests and CIPA proceedings and anticipating Abu Ali’s need for an attorney with the proper security clearance, appointed Attorney Nina J. Ginsberg to act as CIPA-cleared counsel for Abu Ali.”
In a very high-profile case, the United States clearly notes attorney Khurrum Wahid did not have a security clearance. According to the Court, Wahid has not even applied for a security clearance.
How did Wahid come to represent Abu Ali? Was this Khurrum Wahid’s first foray into the world of terrorism cases?
WAHID: LEGAL ADVISOR TO CONTROVERSIAL ISLAMIC RIGHTS GROUP
According to magazine articles, newspaper stories, emails and press releases, by the summer of 2003 Khurrum Wahid began playing a prominent role in cases involving terrorism charges. In the May/June 2003 issue of Mother Jones, Khurrum Wahid was the “New York attorney” representing a Brooklyn man who was placed on a terror watch list.
In May 2003, the Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent “Action Alert #380.” The e-mail called Khurrum Wahid a “CAIR legal advisor.” In June 2003, another “CAIR Action Alert” once again labeled Wahid as the “CAIR legal advisor.”
In July 2003, a Washington Post story said Khurrum Wahid was “legal adviser to one such group, the Council On American Islamic Relations.”
In June 2003, the Sun-Sentinel said Khurrum Wahid was “an attorney who consults with the Council On American Islamic Relations.”
Why did the 2019 Sun-Sentinel profile of Khurrum Wahid fail to mention his work with CAIR?
Wahid’s failure to list the information himself may be to blame.
The biography on KhurrumWahid.com lists his role with the public defender offices in Harlem and Miami. The Wahid website delivers the same civil rights warrior type talking points found in his campaign literature. “A devoted advocate for human and civil rights, Khurrum has fought tirelessly to protect civil liberties from unwarranted government encroachment and to educate the public about the importance of safeguarding our constitutional protections,” he wrote. “Khurrum believes in the adherence to the U.S. Constitution even when such action means representing the unpopular or the pariahs of our society. He has represented individuals in national security matters and challenged the overreach of the government.”
Why would Khurrum Wahid, a “devoted advocate” for civil rights, fail to mention his role with a large civil rights organization like CAIR?
You can read more about the alleged ties between CAIR and Hamas and other terror groups here.
Our main concern is why would Khurrum Wahid want Coral Springs voters kept in the dark about his past legal work and political connections?
Of course, all defendants, even terrorists, deserve legal representation. A lawyer representing horrible clients should not be tainted by their crimes.
Here, Wahid appears to be hiding pertinent facts from voters. Does Wahid think Coral Springs residents are mindless Islamophobes? Why do legitimate questions about his resume become “racist” in the eyes of the Wahid campaign and his supporters?
REDBROWARD reached out to the Wahid campaign for answers. They did not respond to repeated requests for comment.