CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, is a controversial Islamic
lobbying group based in Washington, DC. It claims to denounce terrorism, but in fact supports Islamic extremism, including the suicide bombings carried out by Hamas.
Whether it be the imam
at the local mosque, the principal of the Islamic school,
the Muslim chaplain in a prison or the armed forces, the editor of an Islamic
publishing house or the spokesman for a national group, the American Muslim
scene presents an almost uniform picture of apologetics for
, conspiracy theories about Jews and demands for Muslim
The Council on American-Islamic
, with 17 offices across North America, has emerged as the
powerhouse of Muslim groups and best exemplifies this problem. Consider the
sentiments of its leadership:
* Omar M. Ahmad (chairman) says suicide bombers
themselves for Islam" and so are not terrorists.
* Nihad Awad (executive
director) proclaims his "support" for Hamas
, the Palestinian
* Ibrahim Hooper (spokesman) declares, "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."
Nor does CAIR just excuse
violence. Two of its former employees, Bassem Khafagi and Ismail Royer, have
recently been arrested on charges related to terrorism. And a member of CAIR's
advisory board, Siraj Wahhaj, was named by the U.S. attorney as one of the
"unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in an attempted
Despite this ugly record, the U.S. government widely
accepts CAIR as representing Islam. The White House invites it to functions, the
State Department links to its Web page and Democratic senators rely on its
research. In New York City, the mayor appoints its general counsel to the Human
Rights Commission and the police department hosts its "sensitivity training"
seminar. In Florida, public schools invite it to teach "diversity
The national media broadcasts its views. Which Muslim, for
example, did the Los Angeles Times quote responding to the Pew report? Why,
Ibrahim Hooper, of course.
CAIR, in brief, has established itself as the
voice of American Islam, thereby battering Islam's noble reputation among
Moderate Muslims, of course, reject CAIR's representing
* The late Seifeldin Ashmawy, publisher of the New Jersey-based
Voice of Peace, dismissed CAIR as the champion of "extremists whose views do not
* Tashbih Sayyed of the Los Angeles-based Council for
Democracy and Tolerance accuses CAIR of being a "fifth column" in the United
* Jamal Hasan of the same organization discerns CAIR's goal as
spreading "Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by
Improving Islam's reputation will require two steps: that the
great institutions of American life reject all contact with CAIR and like
groups, while moderate Muslims build sound organizations, ones that neither
apologize for terrorism nor seek "the government of the United States to be
September 10th, 2003 will forever
be remembered as a grim day for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). On that day, the eve of the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, CAIR faced up to its own terrorist connections. It ran away from testifying before an influential Senate panel that heard a barrage of incriminating evidence about the group and its connections. It saw one of its former officials plead guilty to terrorist-related crimes in Federal Court. And, it was stood up by two Department of Justice officials at an immigration symposium in Florida. CAIR should find it hard to recover from this string of defeats.
Last Wednesday, The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security held the second in a series of hearings aimed at examining Saudi Arabia’s role in exporting Islamic extremism abroad. The hearing, titled “Two Years After 9/11: Connecting the Dots,” was focused on the prevalence of the radical Wahhabi
Islamic sect among Muslim political groups in the U.S. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and Chairman Omar Ahmed were invited to testify at the hearing, but both declined to attend. In their absence – and in front of their empty witness chair - the committee heard compelling evidence that Saudi Arabia financially and ideologically supports a network of American organizations that act as the defenders, financiers, and front groups of international terrorists. CAIR has been a major player in this network since its creation in 1994, with a particularly soft spot for the suicide-bombing death squads
Senators turned out in force to connect the dots between CAIR and the deviant Islamic extremism that led to the vicious attacks of 9/11. In his opening statement, Chairman Jon Kyl said, “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.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who has been steadfast in his efforts to uncover the nexus of Hamas front groups in the U.S., was ruthless in his portrayal of CAIR as part of an international terror network. In his opening remarks, Senator Schumer stated that prominent members of CAIR—referring specifically to Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmed—have “intimate links with Hamas.” Later, he remarked that “we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.”
Even Senator Richard Durbin, who has made common cause with some of America’s Wahhabi-backed groups, came down hard on CAIR. In his final comments he conceded that CAIR is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect,” and requested that the committee seek the testimony of mainstream Muslim groups in its place in the future.
CAIR’s affinity for terrorist causes is well documented in the press. At a 1994 meeting at Barry University, Nihad Awad stated succinctly, “I am a supporter of the Hamas movement.” Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper has defended Saudi Arabia’s financial aid to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. In recent months, three CAIR officials were indicted on terrorism-related charges.
CAIR and the AMC have emerged as possibly the two most outspoken U.S. Muslim organizations in the wake of the tragedy, protesting "hate crimes" against Muslims and Arab-Americans, explaining why increased security need not preclude civil liberties for those from the Middle East and Near East, and trying to put a moderate face on a religion Americans only seem to hear about when it rears up in its most extreme incarnations.
But reporters are learning it's not easy to find leaders who can authentically speak for Muslim Americans, who represent a wide variety of ethnicities and languages, sects and political views ranging from completely secular to Islamic fundamentalist. CAIR and AMC in particular would not be chosen as representatives by many Muslims. In fact, there are those in American Muslim communities as well as law enforcement who consider CAIR and the AMC to be part of the problem, because both have been seen as tacitly -- if not explicitly -- supportive of extremist groups guilty of terrorism.
Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR, refuses to outright condemn Osama bin Laden. "We condemn terrorism, we condemn the attack on the buildings," Hooper said. But why not condemn bin Laden by name, especially after President Bush has now stated that he was clearly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks?
"If Osama bin Laden was behind it, we condemn him by name," Hooper said. But why the "if" -- why qualify the response? Hooper said he resented the question. And what about prior acts of terror linked to bin Laden? Or that bin Laden has urged Muslims to kill Americans?
Again, Hooper demurred, saying only that he condemns acts of terror.
Both groups also refuse to outright condemn Islamic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. In fact, leaders from both groups have, in recent years, been quoted defending or exhorting organizations that the U.S. State Department classifies as "foreign terrorist." Steven Pomerantz, former FBI assistant director and chief of the FBI's counterterrorism section, once charged that CAIR's activities "effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." Other American Muslim leaders have raised questions about their possible alliances with radical groups, and many academics are disturbed by the groups' prominence.
Neither CAIR nor the AMC divulge their membership numbers, though both seem to be, as AMC executive director Aly Abu Zaakouk says, "working to be the voice of American Muslims in Washington, D.C., in state capitals and local governments, from PTAs to Pennsylvania Avenue."
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A site that among other things, promises to "[e]xpose CAIR's activities on behalf of Islamist terror in the United States"
(See Also: Man sued over claims on Web about Muslim group
CAIR : Council on American Islamic Relations