CAIR is a civil rights group partially funded by the Saudi Wahhabi establishment.
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.” CAIR currently claims 30 affiliates in the United States and one branch in Canada.
CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Ibrahim Hooper, Nihad Awad, and Omar Ahmad, 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 had previously served, respectively, as IAP’s Public Relations Director and President. Ibrahim Hooper was also an employee of IAP. Thus it can be said that CAIR was an outgowth 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.” Shortly after 9/11, the CAIR website featured a picture of the World Trade Center in flames and below it a call for donations that was linked to the HLF website. 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 were eventually 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 [perceived] Israeli brutality.
CAIR contends that American Muslims are the victims of wholesale repression, and that U.S. foreign policy is largely dictated 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, 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.”
CAIR receives considerable funding from Saudi Arabia. In 1999, the Saudi embassy in Washington announced a $250,000 grant by the Islamic Development Bank to CAIR for the purchase of land in Washington, DC to be used in the construction of “an education and research center.” 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.”
Other facts about CAIR’s pas de deux with Islamic terrorism include the following:
Co-founder Nihad Awad asserted at a 1994 meeting at Barry University, “I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.” Awad wrote in the Muslim World Monitor that the 1994 trial which had resulted in the conviction of four Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who had perpetrated the previous year’s World Trade Center bombing was “a travesty of justice.”
On February 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named CAIR Advisory Board member and New York imam Siraj Wahhaj as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in Islamic Group leader Omar Abdel Rahman’s foiled plot to blow up numerous New York City monuments.
On June 6, 2006, CAIR’s Ohio affiliate held a large fundraiser in honor of Siraj Wahhaj. Following the event, CAIR-OH issued a press release heralding the more than $100,000 that Wahhaj had helped raise that evening for the organization’s “civil liberties work.”
In October 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as “the sworn enemy,” asserting that this depiction “offensive to Muslims.”
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, plead guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud. 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.
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.
On September 6, 2001, the day that federal agents first raided Infocom’s headquarters, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad denounced the government for “tak[ing] us back to the McCarthy era.” Similarly, CAIR’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter depicted the Elashis’ indictment as “a war on Islam and Muslims” and alleged that the brothers had been convicted “for their crime of being Muslims in America.”
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 plead guilty to lesser firearm-related charges and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Onetime CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was arrested on terrorism-related charges and 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.
The foregoing terrorist connections 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.”
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.”
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin has said, “CAIR is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect.”
On September 17, 2003, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer stated that CAIR co-founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmed have “intimate links with Hamas.” He later remarked that “we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.”
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 it 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, NAACP, Hispanic Unity, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force, 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.
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.
CAIR is funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and by the New York Foundation.