Despite that “white bread” image, less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, officials of CAIR-New York openly denied that any Muslim individuals had a role in the attacks which were perpetrated by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and several other Saudi nationals.[i] CAIR has a history of defending Islamic terrorists and terror organizations, defending several groups – including the Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation – who have been shut down by the U.S. government for engaging in terrorist financing. CAIR has also hosted or co-sponsored rallies that support terrorism. In May 1998, CAIR co-sponsored a rally at Brooklyn College in which one of the speakers said that “he who equips a warrior of Jihad is like the one who makes Jihad himself.” In October 2000, CAIR co-sponsored a rally in Washington, DC in which Abdurahman Alamoudi, the executive director of the American Muslim Council, declared “Hear that, Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas – Allahu Akbar. I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hizbollah.”[ii]
In the past year, at least three former board members or employees of CAIR have been incited on terrorism, money-laundering, or fraud charges. As mentioned above, Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was indicted on charges of transacting with terrorist entities. In June 2003, CAIR Communications Specialist, Randall Todd Royer (aka Ismail Royer) was indicted on charges of being part of a conspiracy to support violent jihad overseas. According to the indictment, Royers traveled overseas to train at terrorist training camps. According to Matthew Epstein, while he was working for CAIR, he purchased an AK-47 assault rifle, 219 rounds of ammunition, distributed newsletters for a group designated as a terrorist organization, and fired at Indian troops.[iii] He faces federal charges that he “conspired to provide material support to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization and to his Taliban protectors in Afghanistan.”[iv] In January 2003, CAIR’s Director of Community Relations, Bassam Khafagi was indicted on bank fraud charges. He was also a founding member and President of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA). While he was in a leadership position, IANA hosted an al-Qaeda recruiter at IANA’s conferences from 1993-1995.[v]
CAIR receives significant funding from the government of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Gazette and Saudi Muslim World League have reported on significant funding received by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a radical Muslim organization which is an arm of the Saudi government, for CAIR.[vi] In 2002, CAIR received $500,000 from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal according to Arab News. In August 1999, a Saudi Government press release announced that the Islamic Development Bank (founded in October 1975 and inspired by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and of which Saudi Arabia was the top contributor in founding capital) approved “$250,000 as a contribution to the purchase of land in Washington DC to be the headquarters for an education and research center under the aegis of the Council for American Islamic Relations.” CAIR also received at least $12,000 from the U.S. offices of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The IIRO was financed with Saudi money out of Saudi Arabia. The IIRO has been the subject of several federal investigations regarding support to a variety of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas. According to Senior Special Agent David Kane of the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement “the terrorists who have attacked or tried to attack the United States around the world have been associated with MWL [Muslim World League]/IIRO.”[vii]
According to the Center for Security Policy, “CAIR uses the civil rights issue as a cloak to protect itself and its allies from allegations that they support terrorism, and consistently has denounced federal counterterrorism efforts as being racist and bigoted.”[viii]
Mainstream American Muslim organizations have refused to condemn terrorist organizations and terrorist attacks by Hamas, Hizbullah, and others as such. In November of 1994, less than a month after Hamas took responsibility for a bus bombing which murdered 23 men, women, and children, Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Mike Wallace: What do you think of the military undertakings of Hamas?
Nihad Awad: Well, I think that’s – that’s for the people there to judge.
Wallace: I’m asking you.
Awad: The – the United Nations Charter grants people who are under occupation to defend themselves against illegal occupation.[ix]
The same support of terrorist organizations is found with those affiliated with the American Arab-Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). In June 2000, the communications director, Hussein Ibish, was a guest on CNBC. He was asked his view of Hamas and Hizbollah, an organization responsible for the death of 241 American Marines. Both organizations are listed by the State Department as terrorist entities:
Rivera: How do you stand about Hizbollah and Hamas? Do you condemn them?
Ibish: I–it’s not up to me to condemn people. I think he’s absolutely...
Rivera: But I want to know. What do you feel about them?
Ibish: No. I think that Hizbollah fought a very good war against the Israelis, a guerrila war, a popular war that was clearly shown to be a war of liberation and that had the support of the majority of the south Lebanese people.”[x]
The Executive Director of the American Muslim Foundation, Abdrulrahman Alamoudi, besides exhorting his support for Hamas and Hizbollah at a CAIR rally, as shown above, has also extolled the 1994 Iranian-sponsored bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Argentina as “a worthy operation” according to federal prosecutors. He also said, when referring to Islamic attacks overseas, “Many African Muslims have died and not a single American died. I prefer to hit a Zionist target in America or Europe.” He continued, “I prefer honestly like what happened in Argentina,” referring to an attack that killed 86 people and injured more than 300.[xi] Federal officials also disclosed that the American Muslim Council has been providing support for members of the Portland Seven – a group charged with attempted to get to Afghanistan and fight for al-Qaeda, against America. It was also reported that several of the al-Qaeda terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay have granted Alamoudi power of attorney. Yet, his group aides the American military select Muslim chaplains, particularly telling given recent arrests of Americans in Guantanamo.[xii]
As Ambassador Dore Gold pointed out in his groundbreaking book, Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery: 2003), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays a very significant role in funding and aiding terrorism, including on American targets. It is a threat that the United States is just beginning to quietly investigate, despite years of documented evidence. The Los Angeles Times reported on November 17, 2003, that U.S. officials are investigating whether Saudi money helped finance international terrorism. This is the first time that US officials are investigating the action of the Saudi government. The investigation may have been brought about by the Congressional investigation of the terror attacks of 9/11 which stated that ties between Saudi Arabia and the attacks “obviously raise issues with serious national implications.”[xiii] The Saudi Arabian government has been paying for lawyers and bail for Saudi nationals detained by the US. Saudi officials have admitted spending over $1 million in providing assistance to those suspected of terrorism and other crimes. Most of the detainments are due to visa violations. John Pistole, assistant director of the FBI counterterrorism division, testified before the Senate that the actions of the government of Saudi Arabia, “is tantamount to buying off a witness... So it gives us concern if the government is supplying money for defense counsel.” The practice of providing legal counsel to nationals overseas is a practice that the United States does not engage in, according to the Associated Press.[xiv]
According to Matthew Epstein, the assistant director of The Investigative Project, the Saudi’s have
bankrolled a series of Islamic institutions in the United States that actively seek to undermine U.S. counterterrorism policy at home and abroad. In the United States, the Saudi Wahhabis regularly subsidize the organizations and individuals adhering to the militant ideology espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood and its murderous offshoots Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda, all three of which are designated terrorist organizations. Several of these U.S. based organizations drawing Saudi support have recently been shuttered and many of their leaders indicted, including, the Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation and the Islamic Concern Project.[xv]
The Saudi government has also financed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which, as was shown above, is a supporter of militant Islam which was a creation of Hamas.[xvi] Epstein writes:
With deep pocketbooks and religious convictions, the Saudi Wahhabists have bankrolled a series of Islamic institutions in the United States that actively seek to undermine U.S. counterterrorism policy at home and abroad. From Islamic centers to student associations, from relief organizations to bookstores, an ideology committed to the destruction of Western civilization is being offered as the only solution to the plight of the ummah.[xvii]
Saudi money has funded the Holy Land Foundation (connected to Hamas), Benevolence International Foundation (related to al-Qaeda) and the World Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE) (Palestinian Islamic Jihad). These organizations have been shut down in the past three years as terror fronts or conduits. The Saudi government continues to fund the American Muslim Council (AMC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and Mercy International-USA. [xviii]
As Daniel Pipes points out, Islamism is an ideology like totalitarianism, fascism, or Marxist-Leninism.[xix] As an ideology, it is not predicated on specific policy although it may use policy as a justification for its actions. While many -- pundits and politicians alike – blame Israeli policy and U.S. support for Israel as the cause of Islamist rage, such comparisons are inherently false and damage legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. Most people disagree with some aspect of Israeli policy or another (as most people also disagree with some aspect of American policy, or European policy, or some aspect of the policy of any other sovereign state), but are not led to terrorism due to their disagreements with a democratic government. America and Israel are often called “Big Satan” and “Little Satan,” respectively. If Israel were truly the motivating factor behind militant Islam, than it should be the “Big Satan.” Sadly, Islamists hate America and Israel for precisely the same reason – they both have a democratic government that stands for freedom of speech and expression, full voting rights for citizens of all races, creeds, and gender, and other individual freedoms.
The difficulty in garnering alternatives to Islamism is that Islamists are well funded and their American apologist organizations provide a facade of mainstream behavior, confusing Muslim and non-Muslim alike. According to Dr. Khalid Duran, “Organizations like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) have deliberately been trying to poison the hearts and minds of American Muslims against America. By subtly suggesting that American policies are controlled by Zionists, they exploit the anti-Semitism that prevails in Islamist - dominated communities.”[xx]
According to Pakistan Today, many moderate Muslims are upset and angry at the militant Islamist organizations and their successful attempts to portray themselves as the sole voice of Islam. Jamal Hassan, a writer in Washington, notes that the popularity of extremist Islamist organizations cause Americans to look at all Muslims with extreme suspicion. Tashbih Sayyed, President of Council for Democracy and Tolerance, notes that it is the duty of all American Muslims to condemn American Islamist groups. Sayyed also echoed the words of Hassan, emphasizing that keeping silent about Islamist extremism only furthers anti-Muslim bias.
According to Dr. Duran, there are numerous alternatives to Islamic extremism within Islam. He notes that the Congress of Muslim Americans (CMA) (in which he is involved in) seeks to organize non-Islamist Muslims. He notes that they protest against Islamist apologists organizations such as the American Muslim Council (AMC), CAIR, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). According to Duran:
The fair-minded, moderate and tolerant majority of Muslims face enormous difficulties in competing with these Islamists – not because the Islamists are more numerous, but because they float on subsidies provided by Islamist millionaires and billionaires. In the United States, the difference between Islamists and common Muslims is largely one between haves and have-nots. Muslims have the numbers; Islamists have the dollars.[xxi]
Duran notes that the Muslim community in America is only recently coming into its own, but he notes “that community can only take its rightful place if it builds upon hope and dialogue, not the fear of defamation.”[xxii]
[i].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003).
[iii].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003)
[v].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003).
[viii].”CAIR’s Al Qeada Link Exposed.”
[ix].CBS News Transcript. 60 Minutes, November 13, 1994.
[x].ADC Communications Director Hussein Ibish interviewed on Rivera Live on CNBC, June 5, 2000.
[xi].Colin Miner, “Alamoudi Hailed Bombing of Jewish Center,” The New York Sun, October 1, 2002 <http://www.defenddemocracy.org/research_topics/research_topics_show.htm?doc_id=194990&attrib_id=7575> (2 November 2003).
[xiv].John Solomon, “FBI Says Saudis Buy Off Witnesses,” The Associated Press, 17 October 2003, <http://www.defenddemocracy.org/research_topics/research_topics_show.htm?doc_id=196403&attrib_id=7372> (2 November 2003).
[xv].Testimony of Matthew Epstein (September 10, 2003)
[xix].Daniel Pipes, “Daniel Pipes Explains ‘Islamism.’”
[xx].Fatima Sayyed, “Bush Nominates Daniel Pipes to Board of US Institute of Peace: Moderate Muslims Welcome the Appointment.” Pakistan Today, 15 April 2003, <http://www.paktoday.com/pipes.htm> (2 December 2003).
[xxi].Khalid Duran, “How CAIR put my life in peril”