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Rahim Sabadia: Portrait of a Disgraced Defense Contractor

By DAVID J. RUSIN

Four years after the Pentagon suspended the security clearance of Rahim Sabadia — a South African-born, California-based defense contractor who has bankrolled the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — new discoveries raise questions about how he had been permitted to hold one in the first place. Documents analyzed by Islamist Watch show that Sabadia’s foundation donated to an infamous Hamas-funding charity and other radicals, that in 1985 he pleaded guilty to the sale of illegal listening devices, and that immigration officials had ordered him out of the country a decade earlier. Topping off this troubling record, Sabadia recently pleaded guilty to providing false information to a Navy procurement officer in a scheme to recapture an old contract. The Sabadia saga is a warning that Islamists and their sympathizers must be kept away from the sensitive technologies and institutions that protect America.

Concerns about Sabadia initially came to light in a 2011 article by Matt Pearce and Brooke Williams for the Orange County Register. While researching the millions of taxpayer dollars that had been flowing to Sabadia’s Sabtech Industries — thanks, in part, to earmarks from Gary Miller, a Republican congressman whose campaign chest was regularly filled by Sabadia and his wife — the journalists learned that Sabadia had lost his secret-level clearance in 2010. As a result, his company had to stop work on a lucrative contract to upgrade the Navy’s Aegis combat system, a key component of ballistic missile defense. Federal agencies did not disclose the reason for the suspension, but Pearce and Williams located an internal email citing worries about “charitable contributions.”

The authors note that Sabadia, via the Sabadia Family Foundation (SFF), distributes money to “many Islamic education, relief, and humanitarian organizations,” and “one of the foundation’s large beneficiaries — receiving at least $1.2 million since 2002 — is the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” CAIR has been on the outs in Washington due to its designation as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against the Holy Land Foundation, a charity convicted in 2008 of funneling millions to Hamas. In another interesting CAIR–Sabadia link, Omar Zaki, Sabtech’s onetime vice president, is CAIR’s current national chairman.

Sabadia’s massive financing of CAIR, which has reached $1.296 million for its Los Angeles chapter based on available SFFtax filings (2001–12), as well as lesser support for similar Islamist pressure groups, certainly should have grabbed the Defense Department’s attention. However, there have been far more disturbing recipients of the Sabadia family’s largesse….

….Three things, however, are certain: First, it is distressing that a person with Rahim Sabadia’s baggage was able to acquire a clearance and maintain it for as long as he did. Second, other than interactions needed to monitor his probation or investigate any further lawbreaking, the government should keep its distance from Sabadia in the future. Third, an Islamist-aligned individual with classified access has the potential to do far greater damage than the chicanery and quest “for personal gain” witnessed above. The nightmare scenario will come to pass unless Washington more robustly recognizes and acts on the dangers posed by Islamist penetration of the security apparatus, both military and civilian, that protects our country from the resurgent jihad.

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