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CAIR's Congress By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 13, 2006

With the Democratic victory in the midterm elections, one big winner was the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The American Islamic pressure group now has a chance to advance its agenda in numerous ways, with energetic water-carrying by, among others, the Speaker of the House, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the first Muslim member of Congress.

Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, who is likely to be the next House Speaker, has announced her intention to “correct the Patriot Act” and wants to criminalize scrutiny of Muslims at airports and elsewhere: “Since September 11, many Muslim Americans have been subjected to searches at airports and other locations based upon their religion and national origin. We must make it illegal.” Since religion is the one factor that the jihadists themselves invariably point to as the motivation for their violent actions, Pelosi is calling upon investigators to ignore the single most important key to understanding jihadist strategy and goals. If she gets her way, any Muslim who is searched at an airport at any time will be able to claim that he is being illegally profiled; a law criminalizing searches of Muslims at airports would have a chilling effect upon any effort to investigate jihad terror activity in the Muslim community.


Helping pass such a law will be John Conyers, D-MI, the probable new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “The policies of the Bush administration,” he has declared, “have sent a wave of fear through our immigrant communities and targeted our Arab and Muslim neighbors.”


Conyers has also masterminded House Resolution 288, which condemns “religious intolerance” but clearly singles out Islam as needing special protection from such criticism. It states that “it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form,” and “calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.” The bill was referred to the House subcommittee on the Constitution in June 2005, but Conyers, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, could rescue it from legislative oblivion.


Such a bill, of course, would do a great deal to stifle honest discussion of the elements of Islam that give rise today to violence and fanaticism. William Gawthrop, former program manager for the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), has noted: “There is evidence to support the contention that sources of terrorism in Islam may reside within the strategic themes of Islam,” including “the example of Muhammad, the Quran, the hadiths, Islamic law, the pillars of faith and jihad.” However, “as late as early 2006, the senior service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered.” Conyers’ resolution would effectively end any hope that the Department of Defense or any other agency would begin such study, as vitally needed as it is.


Nothing would please CAIR more, of course, as that agency routinely tars as “bigotry” any attempt to discuss such matters. And now Pelosi and Conyers will be joined in the House by the first-ever Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, D-MN. CAIR energetically boosted Ellison’s candidacy: according to journalist Joel Mowbray, CAIR co-founder and executive director Nihad Awad “headlined a fundraiser last month that the campaign estimates netted $15,000 to $20,000, and in July, and it appears that CAIR’s co-founder bundled contributions totaling just over $10,000. (The campaign issued a terse denial on the latter point, though it refused to explain away overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)”


Ellison, meanwhile, will be the keynote speaker at CAIR’s Annual Banquet in Arlington, Virginia next week. In a dispiriting sign of the times, the FBI will also send a representative. None of the thousand or so guests expected to attend are likely to ask any CAIR representative about the organization’s troubling history or associations, or about the propriety of a Congressman speaking at an event sponsored by such a group. For CAIR is an offshoot of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a group that was in turn founded by Mousa Abu Marzook of the terrorist group Hamas. Shortly after 9/11, CAIR’s website called for donations for the Holy Land Foundation (under a photo of the burning World Trade Center towers). The Holy Land Foundation has since been shut down for funding Hamas. Terror expert Steven Emerson says on the basis of this and other evidence that CAIR is “a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas.”


Consistent with these origins, CAIR’s former Board Chairman Omar Ahmad told a Muslim audience in 1998: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant…The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” Although Ahmad now denies saying this, the reporter who witnessed his speech stands by the accuracy of her story. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper has himself said: “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.”


Several CAIR officials, including its Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi; a Board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, Ghassan Elashi; a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, Randall Todd Ismail Royer; and fundraiser Rabih Haddad have been convicted of various terrorism-related offenses. No current CAIR official has ever explained how these people were able to work with the organization in the first place if it is really the moderate civil-rights organization it claims to be.


Of course, CAIR officials have met with Presidents Clinton and Bush, and have long had the ear of the mainstream media. But instead of being subjected to increasing public scrutiny as it should be, CAIR will be able to use the new Congress to expand its reach and influence even farther than it has up to now.


At Ellison’s victory party, some of his supporters shouted “Allahu akbar!” while the candidate looked on with obvious embarrassment. But he had no need to be concerned. In a gushing piece on his victory, the New York Times never mentioned CAIR once – and dismissed concerns about his record, and likely request to be sworn in on the Qur’an, as coming from “Muslim-bashers in the blogosphere.” It noted that some “Muslim American activists” have compared Ellison’s candidacy to “John F. Kennedy’s breaking the taboo against a Roman Catholic’s being president.”

The big difference, of course, is that in Kennedy’s case he addressed those concerns – which were in any case baseless, since the Pope had in fact no plans to rule the United States through a Catholic president. But concerns about Ellison’s views on terror groups and Islamic supremacism are hardly baseless: they stem from amply documented statements and activities of the CAIR officials with whom he will soon be enjoying a banquet, as well as the declared intentions of Islamic groups around the world. Nevertheless, these concerns are dismissed as “bigotry” and left unanswered. And if Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers get their way, it may soon be illegal even to ask them.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.

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