Witnessing the gruesome attacks on four Americans in Fallujah last week would thoroughly sicken any fellow American—except for one very prominent American-Muslim organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In a statement issued shortly after the gory murders, CAIR said that it “condemned the mutilation of those killed in Iraq on Wednesday.” The slaughter of these men was not “murder,” though, it was merely a “killing.”
Nowhere in the statement, in fact, did CAIR condemn the murder of the four Americans.
Nowhere in the statement did CAIR condemn setting on fire the cars the men were driving.
Nowhere in the statement did CAIR condemn the parading of the charred bodies through the street or the hanging of one of the headless corpses hanging from a bridge over the Euphrates River as the locals stoned it.
This is no mere oversight or a simple semantic slip. In the press release’s second paragraph, CAIR explains, “The mutilations violated both Islamic and international norms of conduct during times of war.”
What “war”? The war ended long ago, even long before Saddam’s beard was examined for lice and other living creatures. What has been going on since can only be described as “terrorism,” not “war.”
But CAIR clearly sees this as a “war” between legitimate foes, going so far as to call “on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of the dead and the sensitivities of their families.” The only parties, though, are the American-led coalition forces attempting to build a democracy and the terrorists trying to prevent it.
So why is CAIR calling on “all parties” as if there were a war between two legitimate sides? Probably because CAIR doesn’t view terrorists as terrorists.
In other words, an American Muslim organization has taken the same stance as much-publicized Fallujah cleric Sheikh Khalid Ahmed, who condemned only the mutilations as contrary to Islam—CAIR’s reasoning as well—but not the murders.
And this isn’t the only time CAIR has refused to condemn terrorism.
CAIR’s spokesman was given the opportunity to condemn Hamas and Islamic Jihad by the Washington Post in November 2001. His response was telling: “It’s not our job to go around denouncing.” Asked a similar question about Hamas and Hezbollah by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February 2002, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper called such queries a “game” and explained, “We’re not in the business of condemning.”
But when Israel is to blame, CAIR seems to be very much “in the business of condemning.”
After Israel recently killed the founder of Hamas—a man responsible for the deaths of 52 mostly young Palestinian suicide bombers and 377 mostly civilian Israelis—CAIR saw fit to “condemn” the Jewish state without a moment’s pause. In its press release, CAIR said it “condemned the assassination of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian Muslim religious leader, calling it an act of ‘state terrorism.’”
CAIR couldn’t bring itself to call the founder of one of the bloodiest terrorist organizations on earth even a “militant,” let alone a “terrorist.” To them, a man with the blood of over 400 people on his hands was a handicapped “religious leader.” Seems awfully instructive about the kind of Islam they must follow if they label terrorist masterminds “religious leaders.”
All of this could be happily ignored if CAIR was some fringe organization, but it is not. The group represents Muslims in the media and to the government and touts itself in its press releases as “America's largest Islamic civil liberties group” with “25 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.”
Read a news story on American Muslims or on Islamic terrorism or flip on a cable news channel, and there is CAIR, being held up as the representative of American Muslims.
But what kind of American Muslim would want to be represented by a group that refuses to condemn the brutal murder of four Americans or any number of different terrorist organizations? Let’s hope not many.
Joel Mowbray (firstname.lastname@example.org) is author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America’s Security.