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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) describes itself as a "non-profit, grassroots membership organization … established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America," to protect Muslims from hate crimes and discrimination, and to present “an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.” According to the Council's Director of Communications, Ibrahim Hooper, "We are similar to a Muslim NAACP." As of June 2007, CAIR claimed 32 branch affiliates in the United States and one in Canada.
CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, and Rafeeq Jaber, all of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas’ public relations and recruitment arm in the United States. Awad and Ahmad previously had served, respectively, as IAP's Public Relations Director and President. Thus it can be said that CAIR was an outgrowth of IAP.
CAIR opened its first office in Washington, DC, with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a self-described charity founded by Mousa Abu Marzook. In May 1996, CAIR coordinated a press conference to protest the decision of the U.S. government to extradite Marzook for his connection to terrorist acts performed by Hamas. CAIR characterized the extradition as "anti-Islamic" and "anti-American." When President Bush closed HLF in December 2001 for collecting money "to support the Hamas terror organization," CAIR decried his action as "unjust" and "disturbing."
From its inception, CAIR has sought to portray itself as a moderate, mainstream organization, and as early as 1996 its officials became frequent guests at State Department and White House events. In the aftermath of 9/11, when the Bush administration tried to reassure American Muslims that Islam was not the target of the war on terrorism, CAIR officials were prominent among the invitees. CAIR was the main Islamic group to gain U.S. media access in the post-9/11 period, providing the “Muslim view” of the terrorist attacks and of America's response to them. As self-acclaimed Muslim spokesmen, CAIR officials typically refused to “simplify the situation” by blaming Osama bin Laden for the attacks on America. Moreover, while they eventually were induced by journalists to condemn Palestinian suicide terror in a pro forma manner, they hedged their disavowals by describing it as an understandable response to Israeli brutality.
Contending that American Muslims are the victims of wholesale repression, CAIR has provided sensitivity training to police departments across the United States, instructing law officers in the art of dealing with Muslims respectfully.
CAIR further claims that U.S. foreign policy is dictated largely by Zionist extremists. As Evan McCormick of the Center for Security Policy puts it: “By convincing moderate Muslims that they are being targeted unfairly by the Bush administration's [anti-terror] policies, CAIR incites fear in members of that demographic. If innocent Muslims are then convinced that they will be the target of government action, then they have no incentive to reject an extremist ideology that resists the government’s anti-terror policies. ... This is the essence of CAIR’s strategy: shock moderate Muslims about the motivations of the U.S. Government, turn them into post-[9/11] victims, and then recruit them as supporters for your political agenda when they are ripe for the taking.”
Along the same lines, a civil suit filed by the estate of 9/11 victim and former high-ranking FBI counter-terrorism agent John O’Neill, Sr. asserted that CAIR's goal “is to create as much self-doubt, hesitation, fear of name-calling, and litigation within police departments and intelligence agencies as possible so as to render such authorities ineffective in pursuing international and domestic terrorist entities.”
CAIR endorsed an October 22, 2002 "National Day of Protest" whose premise was: “Since September 11th thousands of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians have been rounded up, detained and disappeared. ... Hard-won civil liberties and protections have been stripped away as part of the government's 'war on terrorism.' The USA-PATRIOT Act brings in a new set of repressive laws and restrictions on people and grants even greater power to law enforcement agents of all kinds.” Moreover, this document explicitly defended the convicted murderers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, as well as Lynne Stewart and Jose Padilla, who were convicted on terrorism-related charges -- depicting all four as persecuted political prisoners of a repressive American government.
CAIR was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document, composed by C. Clark Kissinger's radical group Refuse & Resist, condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. The document lamented that “the denial of any due process for Arab[s], Muslim[s], South Asians and others” bore “chilling similarities to a police state.”
In February 2003, CAIR joined the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Alliance, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council in forming a coalition to repeal and amend the Patriot Act -- alleging that it violated the civil liberties of Americans, particularly Muslims. CAIR also endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, which was designed to roll back, in the name of protecting civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
CAIR promotes a radical Islamic vision, as evidenced by the fact that its co-founder Omar Ahmad told a Fremont, California audience in July 1998: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran … should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." In a similar spirit, co-founder Ibrahim Hooper told a reporter in 1993: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.” In 2003 Hooper stated that if Muslims ever become a majority in the United States, they will likely seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law, which they deem superior to man-made law. In the late 1980s, Ihsan Bagby, who would later become a CAIR Board member, stated that Muslims “can never be full citizens of this country,” referring to the United States, “because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”
In 2003 CAIR invested, according to its own Form 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service, $325,000 from its California offices with the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). According to Newsweek, authorities say that over the years "NAIT money has helped the Saudi Arabian sect of Wahhabism -- or Salafism, as the broader, pan-Islamic movement is called -- to seize control of hundreds of mosques in U.S. Muslim communities." A recent study by the Center for Religious Freedom found that a very large number of American mosques teach hatred of Jews and Christians, coupled with doctrines of Islamic supremacism.
Writes Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz: “CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA, and the Cuban-controlled front groups that infiltrated ‘Latin American solidarity’ organizations in the U.S. during the 1980s. It has organized numerous community branches and has had immense success in gaining position as an ‘official’ representative of Islam in the U.S.”
Notable facts about CAIR's pas de deux with Islamic extremism and terrorism include the following:
In 1998, CAIR denied bin Laden's responsibility for the two al Qaeda bombings of American embassies in Africa. According to Ibrahim Hooper, the bombings resulted from "misunderstandings of both sides."
In September 2003, CAIR's former Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, pled guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Federal investigators said that a group Khafagi founded, the Islamic Assembly of North America, had funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and had published material advocating suicide attacks against the United States. Khafagi’s illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR.
In July 2004, Ghassan Elashi, a founding Board member of CAIR's Texas chapter, was convicted along with his four brothers of having illegally shipped computers from their Dallas-area business, InfoCom Corporation, to Libya and Syria, two designated state sponsors of terrorism. That same month, Elashi was charged with having provided more than $12.4 million to Hamas while he was running HLF. In April 2005, Elashi and two of his brothers were also convicted of knowingly doing business with Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook, who was Elashi's brother-in-law. Elashi's illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR, whose Dallas-Fort Worth chapter depicted the Elashis’ indictment as “a war on Islam and Muslims.”
On September 6, 2001, the day that federal agents first raided Infocom’s headquarters, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad denounced the U.S. government for “tak[ing] us back to the McCarthy era.”
FBI wiretap evidence which was introduced during the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation (a trial that explored HLF's financial ties to Hamas), proved that Nihad Awad had attended a 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and operatives who collaborated on a plan to disguise funding for Hamas as charitable donations.
CAIR co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Omar Ahmad was named, in the same 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, as an unindicted co-conspirator with HLF. During the trial, evidence was supplied proving that Ahmad had attended, along with Nihad Awad, the aforementioned 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and operatives. Moreover, prosecutors described Ahmad as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's "Palestine Committee" in America.
The home of Muthanna al-Hanooti, one of CAIR's directors, was raided in 2006 by FBI agents in connection with an active terrorism investigation. FBI agents also searched the offices of Focus on Advocacy and Advancement of International Relations, al-Hanooti's Michigan- and Washington DC-based consulting firm that investigators suspect to be a front supporting the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq.
Al-Hanooti is an ethnic Palestinian who, according to a 2001 FBI report, "collected over $6 million for support of Hamas" and attended, along with CAIR and Holy Land Foundation officials, the previously cited Hamas fundraising summit in Philadelphia in 1993. Currently a prayer leader at a Washington-area mosque that aided some of the 9/11 hijackers, he is a relative of Shiek Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Muthanna al-Hanooti formerly helped run an organization called LIFE for Relief and Development, a suspected Hamas terror front whose Michigan offices were raided by the FBI in September 2006, and whose Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops in 2004.
In March 2011, al-Hanooti was sentenced to a year in federal prison for violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq. According to the FBI, al-Hanooti also raised more than $6 million for support of Hamas and was present with CAIR and Holy Land Foundation officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held in Philadelphia during the 1990s.
Randall Todd Royer, who served as a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, trained with Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization that is listed on the State Department's international terror list. He was also indicted on charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan. He later pled guilty to lesser firearm-related charges and was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Royer's illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR.
Onetime CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was arrested on terrorism-related charges and was deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, which in October 2002 was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
During the 2005 trial of Sami Al-Arian, who was a key figure for Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the United States, Ahmed Bedier of CAIR’s Florida branch emerged as one of Al-Arian’s most vocal advocates.
In the aftermath of 9/11, federal agents raided the Washington-area home of CAIR civil rights coordinator Laura Jaghlit as part of a probe into terrorist financing, money laundering and tax fraud. Her husband Mohammed Jaghlit, a director of the Saudi-backed SAAR Foundation, is a suspect in the still-active (as of January 2008) investigation.
Current CAIR board member Nabil Sadoun co-founded, along with Mousa Abu Marzook, the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), which investigators consider to be a key Hamas front in America. Sadoun now sits on UASR's board.
Current CAIR research director Mohamed Nimer previously served as a Board Director for UASR.
The foregoing affiliations have drawn the notice of numerous commentators:
Steven Pomerantz, the FBI’s former chief of counter-terrorism, has stated that “CAIR, its leaders and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups.”
WorldNetDaily quotes an FBI veteran as saying: "Their [CAIR's] offices have been a turnstile for terrorists and their supporters."
The family of John P. O’Neill, Sr., the former FBI counter-terrorism chief who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having “been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism” responsible for the September 11 attacks.
Terrorism expert Steven Emerson, citing federal law enforcement sources and internal documents, characterizes CAIR as “a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas.”
On September 17, 2003, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer stated that CAIR co-founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad have "intimate links with Hamas." He later remarked that "we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism."
According to U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R - North Carolina), co-founder of the House Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus: "Groups like CAIR have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the United States."
During September 2003 hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, Chairman Jon Kyl noted the connections between such groups as CAIR and the Saudi government, stating: “A small group of organizations based in the U.S. with Saudi backing and support is well advanced in its four-decade effort to control Islam in America -- from mosques, universities and community centers to our prisons and even within our military. Moderate Muslims who love America and want to be part of our great country are being forced out of those institutions.”
A number of American Muslims have made similar observations:
The late Seifeldin Ashmawy, who published Voice of Peace, called CAIR the champion of “extremists whose views do not represent Islam.”
Tashbih Sayyed of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance (CDT) called CAIR “the most accomplished fifth column” in the United States. Jamal Hasan, also of CDT, said that CAIR’s goal is to spread “Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by crook.”
According to Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, CAIR and similar groups “condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism,” and adds that “almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states.”
In 1998, CAIR co-hosted a rally at Brooklyn College where Islamic militants exhorted the attendees to carry out "jihad" and described Jews as "pigs and monkeys." The crowd chanted: "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes." Referring to Israel as a "racist country and state," CAIR was a signatory to a MAY 20, 2004 "Joint Muslims/Arab-American Statement on Israeli Violence in Gaza," which "strongly condemn[ed]" Israel's "indiscriminate killings of innocent Palestinians, including many children," and its "demolition of Palestinian homes." In August 2006 CAIR accused Israel of practicing state terrorism in its war against the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. Said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, "Our [American] government must end its support for Israel's campaign of terror in Lebanon and join an international effort to protect and bring humanitarian aid to the civilian population of that devastated nation."
CAIR officials have displayed a double standard for denouncing violence. For example, Ibrahim Hooper in a Pittsburg Post-Gazette interview refused to denounce the terrorism of Hamas and Hezbollah, stating, "we’re not in the business of condemning." By contrast, when Israeli troops killed Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, CAIR condemned "the assassination of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian Muslim religious leader," calling the operation "an act of state terror."
According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson: "Hussam Ayloush, the Executive Director of the Southern California chapter of [CAIR] ... is known to use the term 'Zionazi' to refer to Israelis, and [he] compare[s] Zionism to Nazism, once writing in an e-mail, 'Indeed, the Zionazis are a bunch of nice people; just like their Nazi brethren!'"
CAIR chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 "Free Muslims March Against Terror," an event whose stated purpose was to "send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered ... [and to send] a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them.”
CAIR states that it “works in close cooperation with other civic and civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Hispanic Unity, Japanese American Citizens League, NAACP, Organization of Chinese Americans, Resource Task Force, and Sikh Mediawatch, among many others.” CAIR also identifies the National Council of Churches as a “partner” organization.
On December 12, 2006, CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed called the war in Iraq a "pure unadulterated projection of raw power" and said the U.S. should withdraw its forces immediately.
Another notable CAIR official is Altaf Ali, the organization's Florida Director. Ali alleges that America responded to the 9/11 attacks by trampling on the civil liberties of all Muslims, and he has wavered on the question of whether or not the victims who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 could be classified as innocents whose killings were unjustified.
In 2007 CAIR became involved in the infamous "flying imams" lawsuit, a case that centered around six Muslim clerics aboard a November 2006 US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. Shortly before takeoff, they began engaging in bizarre behaviors eerily reminiscent of those that had been used by the 9/11 hijackers: shouting slogans in Arabic; leaving their assigned seats to position themselves in different places; requesting seat belt extenders that they positioned on the floor, rather than using them to secure themselves. Responding to the concerns of alarmed passengers and the flight crew, authorities removed the imams from the plane. Soon thereafter the imams filed a lawsuit against US Airways, claiming that they had been removed from the flight for no reason other than anti-Muslim discrimination. The lawyer representing the imams was Omar T. Mohammedi, who as of 2006 was President of CAIR’s New York chapter.
In February 2007, CAIR endorsed a call by the American Muslim Taskforce for Civil Rights and Elections, for a worldwide “rolling fast” in support of the incarcerated Sami Al-Arian, who had initiated a hunger strike on January 21 to protest his detention and treatment by federal authorities. Participants in the campaign agreed to fast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for as long as Al-Arian continued his hunger strike.
On June 4, 2007, the New York Sun reported that CAIR had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged criminal conspiracy to support both Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). The federal prosecution document, in naming CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator, described the organization as a present or past member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.
Also named as unindicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial were groups such as Hamas, INFOCOM, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Arab Youth Association, the North American Islamic Trust, and the United Association for Studies and Research. The list also included many individuals affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas. Among these were Omar Ahmad, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Jamal Badawi, Yousef al-Qaradawi, Abdallah Azzam, Mohammad Jaghlit, Mousa Abu Marzook, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and Ahmed Yassin.
Two weeks after the Justice Department had named CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial, the organization legally changed its name to "Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network."
In the summer 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, it was learned that CAIR's parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, had been named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum as one of the Brotherhood's likeminded "organizations of our friends" who shared the common goal of conducting "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
According to a June 2007 Washington Times report, CAIR's membership had declined more than 90 percent since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, from approximately 29,000 in the year 2000, to fewer than 1,700 six years later. As a result, CAIR’s annual income from dues dropped from $732,765 in 2000 (when yearly dues cost $25 per person), to $58,750 in 2006 (when dues cost $35). As of 2007, the majority of CAIR’s $3 million annual budget derived from about two dozen individual donors.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, Director of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, said in June 2007 that the decline in CAIR’s membership contradicted the organization’s claim that it represents the interests and concerns of 7 million American Muslims. “This is the untold story in the myth that CAIR represents the American Muslim population,” said Jasser. “They only represent their membership and donors.”
CAIR has received funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the New York Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.
CAIR also receives considerable funding from Saudi Arabia, whose Washington embassy in 1999 announced a $250,000 grant by the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank to help CAIR purchase some land in Washington, DC -- to be used in the construction of “an education and research center.” In 2002 the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which is bankrolled by the Saudi government, financed CAIR's distribution of books on Islam and CAIR's immensely expensive advertising campaign in a number of American publications -- including a weekly ad in USA Today which cost approximately $1.04 million over the course of the year. In 2003, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $500,000 to help CAIR distribute the Koran and other Islam-related books throughout the United States. Two years later, a Saudi Arabian named Adnan Bogary gave CAIR's Washington branch a donation of more than $1.36 million.
In 2006 Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, financed the building of a property in the United States to serve as an endowment for CAIR. That property now generates some $3 million annually for CAIR.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, CAIR in 2006 sent delegations to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in an effort to procure millions of dollars in donations from wealthy Gulf donors.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, in September 2009 CAIR executive ditector Nihad Awad (along with CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper and chairman Larry Shaw) praised Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his "leadership" and his "continuing efforts for world peace," and asked him to underwrite a CAIR program to distribute a million copies of the Quran to American government officials and the general public. "We want to assure you that Muslims in America are your brothers and supporters," Shaw said. "They share with you your interests and aspirations." The CAIR officials also asked Gaddafi for financial assistance to help them run an entity known as the Muslim Peace Foundation, founded in 2008 ostensibly to help repair American-Muslim relations. One of the foundation's founders was a man named Winslow Seale, a Muslim convert who later changed his name to Johari Abdul Malik. Malik's Dar al-Hijrah mosque is believed to be "associated with Islamic extremists" and "has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing."
In November 2010, Muneer Awad, director of CAIR's Oklahoma state chapter, filed a federal lawsuit challenging a measure -- approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters -- that barred the state's judges from considering Sharia, or Islamic law, in formulating their rulings. According to Awad, the measure not only violated the First Amendment right to "free exercise" of religion, but also singled out Islam for "profound stigma."
In October 2010, CAIR announced that it was forming a new “Islamophobia” department that would produce an annual report tracking “trends in rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims and ... offer accurate and balanced information to be used in the struggle for tolerance and mutual understanding.” The CAIR website devotes a section to the concept of “Islamophobia.” CAIR has also released a video titled “Islamophobia: A Growing Problem.” In particular, CAIR has conducted a public-relations war against various Tea Party movements that have hosted speakers which CAIR deems Islamophobic.
In April 2011, CAIR's co-founder and executive director, Nihad Awad, spoke at an Islamophobia conference held at UC-Berkeley. In his speech, he said that "this epidemic [Islamophobia] ... needs to be fought by all Americans and needs to be rejected by all Americans, not only American Muslims."
IslamistWatch reports that CAIR "uses Press TV, the biased English-language channel run by the Iranian government, as a platform to peddle its favored meme of "Islamophobia" in the U.S." Numerous examples can be seen here. Produced and broadcast from Tehran, Press TV's hosts/presenters include George Galloway and Tariq Ramadan. Another media outlet that remained open to CAIR leaders was the Hamas-linked Palestinian network Al-Quds TV. The Center for Security Policy (CSP) suggests that "CAIR talking heads" now must resort to making appearances in such venues because America's 24-hour cable news networks, uncomfortable with CAIR's "proven ties to Hamas and [its] unindicted co-conspirator status in the Holy Land Foundation trial," have become reluctant to feature the group's leaders in broadcast interviews.
PressTV is now the self-appointed propaganda arm for CAIR, a job that no one else will do. For example, "Video: Anti-Muslim Hate Promoted by Vocal Minority (CAIR)," and a recent hit piece on Pamela Geller's new book: "Video: Leading Islamophobe Publishes New Anti-Islam Book (CAIR)."
In June 2011, CAIR appointed Hassan Shibly as the new chief of its Tampa, Florida chapter. Following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, Shibly had characterized Hezbollah as a "resistance movement" and a provider of valued social services to the Lebanese people. "They're absolutely not a terrorist organization," Shibly said, and "any war against them is illegitimate." Shibly has also depicted America as an imperialistic nation consumed by its insatiable lust for oil; questioned the veracity of the U.S. 9/11 narrative which traced the terror attacks to al Qaeda; suggested that Sharia law should be implemented in countries with Muslim-majority populations; and defended the late Imam Luqman Abdullah, an advocate of violent jihad who urged his followers never to surrender peacefully to authorities. (True to his own counsel, Abdullah was killed in a gunfight with FBI agents who had come to arrest him; subsequent to that, both Shibly and CAIR spoke in support of him.)
In September 2011, CAIR called for an investigation into an alleged “secret NYPD-CIA program to spy on Muslims.” CAIR's outrage was based on an Associated Press report that after 9/11, the CIA, in response to an NYPD request, had assigned CIA operatives David Cohen and Larry Sanchez to help the police department build its intelligence-gathering capabilities. With the help of these individuals, the NYPD had hired informants as “mosque crawlers” to infiltrate mosques and monitor them for evidence of extremism or terrorist ties. Similarly, the department had hired Pakistani and Palestinian personnel to become part of New York's Pakistani and Palestinian communities and to monitor daily activities therein. Viewing these NYPD measures as egregious violations of civil liberties, CAIR called the AP report “shocking.”
In October 2011, CAIR's New York chapter expressed its support for the anti-capitalist movement Occupy Wall Street, which, according to CAIR, brings "into the international spotlight" many issues that "affect Muslim communities disproportionately." "[I]t is up to us to stand up for our rights and show the world what democracy and peaceful protest look like," said CAIR.
On October 19, 2011, CAIR was one of 57 organizations to co-sign a letter that Farhana Khera, executive director of an Islamic organization called Muslim Advocates, wrote to Barack Obama’s then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and later CIA director) John Brennan. The letter demanded that Obama officials “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”—that is, materials that they claimed were biased against Islam—and “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.” Joing CAIR as signatories were such groups as the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Relief USA, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
The Obama Administration immediately complied with the letter's demands. Dwight C. Holton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, emphasized that same day that training materials for the FBI would be purged of everything that Islamic supremacists deemed offensive: “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”
In early January 2012, the FBI announced the arrest of Sami Osmakac, a 25-year-old Muslim man (and a naturalized American citizen) from the former Yugoslavia. According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, Osmakac had been planning a massive terror attack targeting everything from businesses to nightclubs and bridges in Florida, with the aim of killing and injuring as many people as possible. As part of the attack, he intended to set off a weapon of mass destruction planted in a parked car, then capping off the attack by detonating a suicide belt. Instead, Osmakac’s plans were foiled by an FBI sting operation. Undercover agents tracked the would-be terrorist for months, monitoring his every move and even supplying him with the (secretly non-functional) weapons that he had planned to use before moving in this week to make a decisive arrest. But no sooner was Osmakac in handcuffs than CAIR spokesman Hassan Shibly suggested that the FBI was more culpable in the case than the jihadist in their custody. “The weapons and explosives were provided by the government. Was he just a troubled individual, or did he pose a real threat?” asked Shibly, before expressing his “concern about a perception of entrapment.”
In September 2012, Al Sharpton was a guest speaker at CAIR's annual fundraising banquet, where he called CAIR "one of the most important civil-rights organizations in the United States today." Also addressing the 2012 CAIR convention was Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Two years later, Sharpton keynoted the 2014 incarnation of this same CAIR event.
In mid-November 2012, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began striking Hamas targets in retaliation for a relentless campaign of missile attacks launched against southern Israel by the Gaza-based terror group. The IDF actions prompted Cyrus McGoldrick, CAIR’s civil rights manager in New York, to denounce the killing of Hamas's “resistance leaders”; to pray that God would "protect them [Hamas] and grant them victory"; and to openly endorse Hamas terrorism: "Palestine is a land occupied by foreign settlers. They have the right to resist, to defend themselves, 'by any means necessary.'"
In December 2012, CAIR put out an Action Alert against House Bill No. 4769 of the Michigan state legislature, a proposal stating that no foreign law could take precedence over U.S. law or Michigan state law in a Michigan courtroom. According to the Action Alert, this “anti-Islam” bill had the potential of fostering “discrimination on followers of a minority faith.”
At a January 31, 2013 “Texas Muslim Capitol Day” rally (designed to “promote civic and political activism throughout the wider Muslim community”), Mustafa Carroll, executive director of CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth branch, declared: “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” Dismissing critics who had expressed concern about the spread of Shariah law as “anti-foreign” bigots, Carroll had previously: (a) asserted that "the root cause of terrorism" is not the Quran, but "oppression" against Muslim people; and (b) defended Hamas by saying, “I think you can only blame Hamas for so long. It takes two to tango. And I think, you know, that what we’ve heard for a number of years is this terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, Hamas, Hamas, Hamas, was not just Hamas.” Also at the Texas Muslim Capitol Day festivities, Houston-area social-justice activist Ronnie C. Lister said: “We are looking for the day when a Muslim will become president of the United States; you heard it from me.”
CAIR and the Public Schools
CAIR commonly pressures public schools in the U.S. to make special accommodations for Muslim students and to deny comparable accommodations for students of other faiths. For example, in late 2012, CAIR's Michigan branch complained that a Detroit-area elementary school was being too accommodating to Christians when it allowed its teachers to distribute permission slips for parents to sign so that their children could be released to attend off-site Bible studies classes. In his letter to the school district, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid wrote, in part:
"School staff and teachers are not to serve as advocates for one particular religion or congregation within a religion by passing out slips inviting parents to give permission for their children to attend religious instruction.... According to the United States Supreme Court, the First Amendment clearly requires that public school students and their parents are never given the impression that their school/school district prefers a specific religion over others or sanctions religion in general."
The letter intimidated the school district into offering an apology.
In April 2013, the group's Michigan branch pushed for public schools in the city of Dearborn to accommodate Muslim students who wished to comfortably pray on school grounds and to allow Muslim students to leave early on Fridays for Jumu’ah prayers. The school superintendant complied.
CAIR also sends its own lecturers into the public schools to indoctrinate students with Islamist propaganda and wants Muslim educators to have a say in textbook selection, so as to spin the Islamist narrative in history and social studies texts. For example, on November 29, 2011 at Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, CAIR Florida executive director Hassan Shibly complied with a world history teacher's request that he teach more than 400 students not only about sharia law, but also about the mission of CAIR itself.
CAIR also influences the education system by using the legal system to bully teachers who dare to discuss examples of terrorists committing violence in the name of Islam. For example, CAIR’s Washington state branch accused a well-respected Washington public school teacher of being “racist” when, while instructing her students about the dangers of bullying in October 2012, she used the Taliban and Hamas as examples of organizations that employ violence to “bully people.” CAIR called for a federal investigation and demanded information “regarding curriculum, approved texts and materials, internal correspondence, and past complaints against the district.”
In June 2013, CAIR took an alternate, nondescript name: the Washington Trust Foundation, Inc
Revelation That CAIR Has Been Illegally Hiding Funding from Foreign Sources
Over the years, CAIR has made conflicting statements about funding it has received from sources overseas. In a press release issued just two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for instance, the organization asserted: “We do not support directly or indirectly, or receive support from, any overseas group or government.” By January 2009, however, CAIR claimed, “[T]here is nothing criminal or immoral about accepting donations from foreign nationals.… The U.S. government, corporations and non-profit organizations routinely receive money from foreign nationals.”
Against that backdrop, in September 2013 the Daily Caller revealed that CAIR, for years, had been receiving large contributions from foreign entities and hiding them from the IRS by illegally shifting those funds between two separate bank accounts to circumvent U.S. law. A bit of background is necessary at this point:
To circumvent U.S. tax laws, said the Daily Caller, CAIR's 501(c)(4) entity had collected, without making any disclosure to the IRS, millions of dollars in contributions—and tens of millions of dollars in pledges—from large, anonymous donors. After depositing these funds into its 501(c)(4) bank account, CAIR promptly shifted the funds to its 501(c)(3) account, thereby (illegally) allowing the donors to remain anonymous and claim tax deductions for their contributions.
Federal criminal statutes refer to this practice as “laundering” of funds.” Laundering foreign funds into a U.S. political non-profit in this manner constitutes a violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a 1938 law requiring “persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal.” Similarly, U.S. law prohibits the shifting of funds from overseas in order to avoid reporting them to the IRS.
Some of CAIR's large, anonymous donors were based in Middle Eastern Muslim nations. Among those that gave unreported donations to CAIR during one particular five-year period were: the government of Qatar (which gave $405,000 during those years); the Saudi-based Kingdom Holding Company ($199,980); the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, or UAE ($219,563); and such additional UAE-based entities as the National Bank of Fujairah ($100,000), the Red Crescent Society ($99,985), and â€¨Bin Hammodah Properties ($44,985).
As of September 2013, CAIR had met and coordinated with foreign principals on at least 35 occasions and engaged in more than 100 political influence operations on behalf of foreign principals in the United States.
David Reaboi, vice president for strategic communications at the Center for Security Policy, said at that time:
“Plentiful legal evidence, acquired in the course of a lawsuit—plus CAIR’s own official filing documents to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and IRS—make clear that CAIR has engaged in a thinly disguised money laundering operation. In addition to violating its 501(c)(3) regulations, CAIR’s undisclosed and hidden foreign donations amount to violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act as well.... According to both the letter and spirit of the law, this is illegal as CAIR is avoiding disclosure of foreign sources of funding to a 501(c)3.”
In a move that may have been related to CAIR's practice of secretly shifting foreign funds between its 501(c)(3) and its 501(c)(4), in June 2013 the organization quietly—with no formal announcement—adopted yet another alternate name: the Washington Trust Foundation, Inc. This appears to have been a sub rosa move that was not intended for public knowledge but was uncovered by investigative journalists. Indeed, CAIR's website made no mention of the name change, and no web page existed under the new name.
CAIR's Philadelphia Office Hires Leftwing Jewish Activist
On October 15, 2013, CAIR's Philadelphia office issued a press release announcing that it had hired Jacob Bender, a left-wing Jewish activist and filmmaker, as its new executive director. Bender, who has spent a good portion of his life denouncing the Jewish state, blames Israel for virtually all the problems encountered by Palestinians. In one letter to a newspaper, he writes, “The vast settlement project… is only the most visible manifestation of Israel’s four-decade long rule over Palestinian territory, an occupation that has included torture, political assassination, home demolitions and economic strangulation.” In another letter, he depicts “the growth of terrorism and Islamist extremism” as “a direct result of its oppression of the Palestinians.”
The Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation was the top donor to Bender’s anti-Israel “documentary” film, Out of Cordoba. Another large donor of the film was the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Another donor was the Alavi Foundation, an Iranian group that had its Manhattan office tower seized by the United States in September 2013, in what prosecutors described as the “country’s largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture.” According to prosecutors, the foundation was engaged in money laundering for the government of Iran. Yet another donor was the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which took an active role in the distribution of Bender’s film. Former ISNA heads and current ISNA representatives, Muzammil Siddiqi and Sayyid Syeed, acted as advisors to the film.
United Arab Emirates Designates CAIR As a Terrorist Group
In mid-November 2014, the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) designated CAIR, the Muslim American Society (MAS), and more than 80 groups from other countries as terrorist organizations. Others on the list included ISIS; al Qaeda and its various branches; the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches; Britain’s Cordoba Foundation; the Muslim Association of Britain; and numerous European Muslim groups based in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Islam scholar Robert Spencer offered the following analysis of the UAE designation of CAIR:
"It’s perfectly clear why CAIR and MAS were listed as terror organizations: because of their links to the Muslim Brotherhood.... CAIR is not a terrorist organization if one considers violent acts an essential part of what defines terrorism: it doesn’t blow things up or exhort others to do so. It is, however, an Islamic supremacist organization with the same goals as those of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: the imposition of Islamic law wherever and whenever possible. And while CAIR is quite mainstream these days, this self-styled 'civil rights group' was actually named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements. Its California chapter distributed a poster telling Muslims not to talk to the FBI. CAIR has opposed every anti-terror measure that has ever been proposed or implemented."
According to Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes, "CAIR incites, funds, and does much more vis-à-vis terrorism." He elaborates that CAIR:
(a) Apologizes for terrorist groups: Challenged repeatedly to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, CAIR denounces the acts of violence but not their sponsors.
(b) Is connected to Hamas: Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and many other governments, indirectly created CAIR and the two groups remain tight. Examples: in 1994, CAIR head Nihad Awad publicly declared his support for Hamas; and the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas front group, contributed $5,000 to CAIR; in turn, CAIR exploited the 9/11 attacks to raise money for HLF; and, this past August, demonstrators at a CAIR-sponsored rally in Florida proclaimed "We are Hamas!"
(c) Settled a lawsuit: CAIR initiated a libel lawsuit in 2004 over five statements by a group called Anti-CAIR. But two years later, CAIR settled the suit with prejudice (meaning that it cannot be reopened), implicitly acknowledging the accuracy of Anti-CAIR's assertions, which included:
(d) Includes individuals accused of terrorism: At least seven board members or staff at CAIR have been arrested, denied entry to the US, or were indicted on or pled guilty to or were convicted of terrorist charges: Siraj Wahhaj, Bassem Khafagi, Randall ("Ismail") Royer, Ghassan Elashi, Rabih Haddad, Muthanna Al-Hanooti, and Nabil Sadoun.
(e) Is in trouble with the law: Federal prosecutors in 2007 named CAIR (along with two other Islamic organizations) as "unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers" in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas financially. In 2008, the FBI ended contacts with CAIR because of concern with its continuing terrorist ties.
 As scholar and former CIA operations officer Clare Lopez pointed out in response:
"It would seem that CAIR is saying that Islam is not just a religion, but actually a legal system (hint: it’s called 'sharia'). This is quite forthcoming of them, because in fact, of course, Islam is not merely about diet/fasting, devotion, prayer, worship, pilgrimage, and proselytizing (Da’wa), which are completely 100% protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. No, as CAIR is rightly pointing out, Islam is also a 'complete way of life' ... which governs every aspect of a Muslim’s life and actually forbids a separation between faith and governance.... The reason the Muslim Brotherhood and all other sharia-adherent Muslims cannot accept that sharia provisions that conflict with U.S. law be superseded by Constitutional law in American courts is precisely the notion that Islamic law must dominate all other laws on earth in every respect.... [A]lthough sharia indeed contains legal prescriptions about devotion and worship as well as many other aspects of life, there are also multiple elements of sharia that are utterly antithetical to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence."
 CAIR’s instructional material for teachers -- entitled “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” -- advises schools to permit Muslim students who wish to attend Friday congregational worship (known as Jum’ah) to “request a temporary release from school.”