Campa-Najjar defends campaign contributions amid attacks by Rep. Duncan Hunter

SAN DIEGO — Congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar has received $17,300 in contributions from board members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — contributions that the candidate says show support from hard-working Americans and his critics on the right wing are portraying as money tied to terrorism.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, has run ads criticizing Campa-Najjar’s support from CAIR, suggesting it’s part of a “well-orchestrated plan to infiltrate Congress.” The ads have been criticized by Campa-Najjar and many in the media as a racist attack on the candidate’s Palestinian heritage, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

While CAIR describes itself as a civil rights group dedicated to promoting dialogue, justice and mutual understanding, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit also has had some attention from federal agents investigating possible links to terrorist groups.

CAIR was found to have ties to Hamas, the Palestinian-Islamic resistance organization, during a long-running criminal trial against former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.