One reason to be suspicious of Washington’s ability to deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism is that the same dodgy characters keep showing up as self-appointed spokespersons for the American Muslim community.
The Beltway-media complex is too politically correct and/or afraid of being labeled “anti-Muslim” to ask tough questions about their background. They become unchallenged, unquestioned sources for a great deal of news coverage.
Chief among these organizations is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. If you’re looking for a squeaky-clean activist group to carry the banner of Muslim resistance to Islamist extremism… well, CAIR hardly seems to fit the bill, despite being portrayed that way by the Mainstream Media.
Here are 10 reasons you should be suspicious of CAIR:
1. They are a suspected Hamas fundraiser. This is the big one, and it has been affirmed by the Justice Department on several occasions. CAIR was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial, which concerned fundraising for the Palestinian terror organizations Hamas and the Palestinian Committee. The strong ties between CAIR’s founders and Hamas are well-documented and beyond dispute. CAIR generally addresses these issues by attacking virtually everyone who mentions them as an “Islamophobe.”
2. The FBI suspended formal contacts with CAIR. As a result of the Holy Land Foundation scandal, the FBI determined CAIR was not an “appropriate liaison partner.” The Bureau had a list of issues CAIR would have to address to restore this relationship, including demonstrating that CAIR had cut all ties with Hamas and similar groups, but those conditions have not been met.
3. CAIR encourages Muslims to distrust the FBI. Another reason the Bureau might not be eager to have close ties with CAIR is that the latter has in the past portrayed the FBI as a sinister conspiracy against Muslims. For example, they advised Muslims to “use caution when speaking with the FBI” during the 2010 investigation of a Muslim described to local Arizona media as “humble, pious, and well-liked in the community.” His name was Elton Simpson, and he died launching a jihadi attack against the Mohammed Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas four years later.
More recently, CAIR National’s Twitter account issued a string of messages opposing the no-fly list – which Democrats are now using in a bid to bypass the Constitution for gun control – because it had too many Muslims on it, and the FBI could be using the no-fly list to “pressure Muslims to become informants.” CAIR accuses the FBI of using “blackmail” tactics against Muslims.
The California chapter of CAIR held a conference in 2011 that was advertised with a poster depicting what Fox News described as “a sinister-looking FBI agent” and the headlines “Build a Wall of Resistance” and “Don’t Talk to the FBI.” The conference was entitled “FBI Raids and Grand Jury Subpoenas: Know Your Rights and Defend Our Communities.” CAIR ultimately decided to take the poster down, out of what spokesman Ibrahim Hooper described as “extreme caution”… while nevertheless complaining about “Muslim bashers” and “the Islamophobic hate machine.”
4. CAIR has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates. The UAE prepared a list in 2014 that designated all organs of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organizations, including CAIR and the Muslim American Society. Officials of the Obama Administration were dispatched to work with CAIR to oppose the UAE designation, a designation which CAIR described as “shocking and bizarre.”
5. They threw a banquet for an Islamic Jihad leader. One reason the UAE designation of CAIR was not shocking is that a week beforehand, CAIR-SFBA threw a banquet in honor of former Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami al-Arian and gave him a “Promoting Justice” award. Al-Arian pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide goods and services to this known terrorist organization, which is dedicated to using homicidal and suicidal violence for the “Palestinian Cause,” and even agreed to deportation to Turkey as part of his plea deal.
Al-Arian’s defenders contend his trial was unfair, whistling past documentation such as his unsent handwritten letter to Kuwait seeking money for “the jihad effort in Palestine,” but his relationship with law enforcement is, shall we say, profoundly unhelpful to those who think CAIR and its friends can help the Muslim-American community work with the authorities to crush domestic terrorism.
6. Some CAIR members have a nuanced view of suicide bombing. One of the CAIR spokesmen who “condemned all violence everywhere” after the San Bernardino attack, Muzammil Siddiqui, in 1995 praised suicide bombers, and then in 2000 thundered about the “wrath of God” descending upon America for its support of Israel. He has also gone off-message by admitting jihad “may take a military action,” rather than pushing the preferred narrative about it being an entirely peaceful internal struggle, in 2007.
7. CAIR executives have described notorious terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah as “resistance movements.” That’s how CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly described Hezbollah, while insisting it is “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” Israel and its supporters, on the other hand, were described as “enemies of God and humanity” by Shibly in 2014.
Hezbollah most certainly is a violent terrorist organization, although they are not big fans of the terrorist attacks perpetrated by their enemies in ISIS, which is currently facing them across the chaotic battlefields of Syria. Hezbollah is a Shiite murder squad aligned with Iran, while the Islamic State is Sunni.
In 2008, then-National Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed described Hamas and Hezbollah as “part of the political processes in their societies, just like the IRA was part of the political process in their society.”
In 2001, Ghazi Khankan, then-Executive Director of CAIR’s New York office, claimed “the people of Hamas who direct their attacks on the Israeli military are in the correct position, those who attack civilians are wrong.” When he was asked how he defined Israeli civilians, Khankan replied, “Who is a soldier in Israel and who is not? Anyone over 18 is automatically inducted into the service and they are all reserves. Therefore, Hamas in my opinion looks at them as part of the military. Those who are below 18 should not be attacked.”
8. They are very quick to accuse law enforcement of improperly using deadly force against Muslims. If Americans want close “see something, say something” cooperation with a fully-integrated Muslim community, the last thing they need is paranoia built with wild accusations of cops with itchy trigger fingers shooting Islamic suspects for no good reason. CAIR is quick to cry foul on such shootings, and stands by its judgments despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Examples include the shootings of Ibragim Todashev, an associated of the Boston Bombers who was shot while attacking state police and an FBI agent, and Usaama Rahim, who was under surveillance for planning the jihad murders of policemen in Boston, and died when he attacked law enforcement officers with a knife.
The CAIR spokesman who thinks Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization, Hassan Shibly, was still pushing paranoid narratives about the FBI gunning down Todashev – an associate of the Boston Marathon bombers implicated in a previous triple homicide that may have also involved the Tsarnaevs – for no good reason, even after the Justice Department revealed he had a half-written confession in his apartment, threw a coffee table in the face of an FBI agent when he realized he was about to be arrested, and then went after a Massachusetts State Police officer with a five-foot metal pole.
In the Rahim case, CAIR floated suspicions that he was innocently chatting on his cell phone with his father when a police officer and FBI agent confronted and shot him for no good reason. “We have a number of questions: Why exactly was he being followed? What was the probable cause for this particular stop? Were there any video cameras or body cameras of the incident? How do you reconcile the two versions of the story, the family version being that he was on his normal commute to work at a bus stop?” asked CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
9. They tried to discredit the investigation of a political assassin. That would be Mannsor Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American busted in 2011 for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, allegedly at the behest of Iran’s foreign espionage team, the Quds Force. Arbabsiar was trying to hire the Zeta drug cartel to pull of the hit, but he got a DEA informant on the line instead.
CAIR labored mightily to portray this investigation as a farce based on false intelligence. One CAIR official said on Twitter that he didn’t believe Attorney General Eric Holder’s assertions of an alliance between Iran and Mexican drug cartels, while another declared, “If Holder hadn’t announced so many ‘foiled’ plots that were really FBI provocateur led, I’d be more inclined to believe this Iran plot biz.”
The latter Tweet, from Dawud Walid of CAIR-Michigan, was eventually deleted, but he came back with more posts alleging the Administration had falsified its claims that Iranian officials were involved in the Arbabsiar plot. One of these posts included “smh,” which is Internet slang for “shaking my head,” indicating disgust.
Arbabsiar eventually confessed to the plot, including the involvement of Iranian intelligence agents, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, despite a game effort at an insanity defense. (“I can’t change what I did, but I have a good heart. I never hurt anyone. My mind is sometimes not in a good place,” he explained.)
10. They work hard to silence critics of Islamic extremism. CAIR will not be throwing any banquets or giving a “Promoting Justice” award to courageous Somali-born critic of Islamic misogyny Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They were part of the disgraceful effort to quash her honorary degree from Brandeis University, comparing her to “white supremacists and anti-Semites” in the process.
They are not fond of other Somalis who work to keep young Muslims in Minnesota from falling into the clutches of al-Shabaab, either. When two Muslim activists attended a seminar describing al-Shabaab as an “Islamic extremist terrorism organization” in 2011, CAIR denounced them as “anti-Muslim.” A local reporter described CAIR-Minnesota’s attacks on the two anti-al-Shabaab activists as “character assassination,” carried out because the targets “were the first to blow the whistle on the effort to recruit Minnesotan Somalis for terrorism in Somalia.”
CAIR statements on Islamists often come with asterisks and qualifications, but they are full-throated when denouncing everyone they see as a critic of Islam.
Bottom line: these and other examples show that CAIR is just about the exact opposite of what anyone who wants to enlist sincere Muslim-Americans in a pushback against Islamist extremism and terrorism is looking for. The last thing we need right now is CAIR’s toxic mixture of terrorism-apologias, attempts to discredit counter-terrorist activity, mindless political correctness, and fishy international politics. We need bold, unambiguous critics of violence and extremism, champions of assimilation with squeaky-clean backgrounds, not “Islamophobia” hysterics who think terrorists have legitimate grievances.