AUSTIN, Texas -- Police on Thursday identified a man who was found bound with duct tape in Lady Bird Lake in East Austin.
Parkgoers discovered the body of Riad Hamad, 55, Wednesday afternoon just east of the Interstate 35 bridge near Festival Beach.
Hamad was a computer teacher at Small Middle School and had been planning a trip to Palestine to teach children there.
Witnesses who found Hamad said the man had duct tape on his face, and his hands were tied.
Police have called the death suspicious. Investigators on Thursday said family and other sources have told them that Hamad was suicidal...
Hamad ran the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund (PCWF), a radical Gaza-based "charity" that helped children by teaching them to hate Jews. He sued a number of people and entities like David Horowitz, NGO Monitor and others, lost big and had to pay court costs.
On January 17, 2007, a Texas Federal Court judge dismissed as "wholly frivolous" and "baseless" Palestine Children's Welfare Fund (PCWF) Riad ElSolh Hamad's defamation suit against NGO Monitor, Frontpage Jerusalem, the Center for Study of Popular Culture and others. Hamad charged the organizations had defamed him and violated his constitutional and civil rights linking him and his charity in newspaper and Internet articles to Islamic fundamentalist terror.
In addition to dismissing Hamad's claims as "groundless", United States District Court Judge, Sam Sparks, leveled Rule 11 sanctions against Hamad and ordered him to pay defendants' attorney's fees and costs totaling almost $60,000 as well as a $1000 fine to each defendant for Hamad's repeated violation of court orders...
NGO Monitor's report on the PCWF:
...these worthy goals are being undermined by the promotion of an atmosphere of hatred and violence. There is no humanitarian justification for publishing drawings by small children depicting the burning maps of the State of Israel. The T-shirt on sale with the poem alluding to martyrdom only helps to push Palestinian children deeper into more misery. The message board includes outrageous claims that reflect the propaganda of those wishing to pursue the conflict without end. On the basis of this evidence, one can conclude that this NGO raises its funds on false premises, and that its activities are a far cry from the purely humanitarian mission claimed in its mission statement.
According to Discover the Networks:
...Hamad has said, "Britain allowed several hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to land in Palestine, despite the opposition of the original inhabitants. In our opinion, [the Jews] arrived illegally and will be deported to their nation of origin...sooner or later." He has also suggested that it is a misconception to assume "that most of us Arabs recognize the right of Israel to exist."
The FBI has investigated Hamad on a number of occasions. His resume includes being fired from Austin Community College for allegedly "making racist slurs and sexist jokes in the classroom." In Hamad's version of the event, however, he explains that he was in fact fired for "making statements against the U.S. government." Hamad is currently an instructor at a different school, in his words, "till I get fired again."
Or he's murdered, apparently [Update: See below]. More about PCWF in this piece at FrontPage by Joe Kaufman.
Update: The Texas Scribbler links to the police press release [PDF] noting that:
...tape was found around the eyes, and the hands and legs were loosely bound. The bindings of his hands and legs and placement of the tape were consistent with Hamad having done this to himself. Detectives know that Hamad walked from his vehicle to the water on his own based on evidence retrieved from the scene.
Perhaps he was on the target list for Hamas due to his failure and exposure? It should be noted that Hamad also was organizing the upcoming Gaza Flotilla by the ISM and was accepting donations for this.