CAIR or the Council on American-Islamic Relations was founded, in June of 1994, as part of a Hamas-related quad of groups known as the Palestine Committee. Since then, CAIR has lost a number of its representatives due to terrorist activity, and it has been named by the U.S. government as a co-conspirator for a Hamas financing trial. Yet, of the four groups in the committee, CAIR is the only one that still remains in existence, leading to the question: If terrorism won’t bring down CAIR, what will? The answer may very well be in its status as an American organization – its non-profit tax status.
United States Representative and co-founder of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, Sue Myrick, is one of a growing number of lawmakers to speak out against CAIR. As reported in World Net Daily, in December 2007, she stated, “Groups like CAIR have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the United States.”
Recently, Representative Myrick released a personal ten-point agenda, entitled ‘Wake Up America,’ put out, according to her office, “to alert and educate Americans to terrorist threats here at home posed by radical Islamic extremists.” Point number four in the agenda states, “Will call for the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) 501(c)(3) non-profit status which restricts ‘lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.’”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which owns CAIR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, in May 2006, approved a multi-million dollar endowment to CAIR. This was just months after the U.S. Congress, worried about a potential terrorist threat from UAE, acted to stop a deal that would allow a UAE company to run American seaports. As reported by investigative journalist Paul Sperry, the endowment to CAIR was worth nearly $75 million, two-thirds of which allotted towards a “public-relations campaign aimed at repairing Islam’s – and the UAE’s – image in America.”
An investigation, such as the one Representative Myrick suggests, could prove that CAIR’s financial dealings with UAE have been more than just goodwill gestures and could potentially do harm to CAIR’s designation as a 501(c)(3). However, there is another avenue with regard to CAIR’s tax status that needs to be looked into, and that is the possible violation of how both it and its subsidiary, CAIR-Chicago, have used their 501(c)(3)s to advocate for and speak out against political candidates.
In January of this year, CAIR National launched a political-based website for the 2008 elections that would, according to CAIR, provide its web viewers “the latest news and opinions relating to Muslims and election races nationwide.” Some of the opinions posted to this site have put into question CAIR's status as a non-profit institution.
Within the op-ed section of CAIR’s political site, there are a number of articles written by leaders of the group. One of the pieces, titled ‘Troubling extremists plague America,’ written by CAIR National board member Sarwat Husain, states the following: “We have two candidates of two different parties whose moral conscience is so different from each other. On one hand is Obama, who rightfully repudiated the remarks of his pastor. On the other hand we have McCain, who accepts the endorsement of men who cash in big time by teaching bigotry and misguiding their followers."
In another of the site’s articles, ‘Smear Campaign Speaks Volumes About Society,’ authored by CAIR National Director of Communications Strategy and Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, Ahmed Rehab, the following is written: “I was recently asked on Fox News Radio which candidate impressed me most. ‘Obama,’ I answered... I am not drawn to Obama for any other reason but his political outlook, one that brings me hope that we can move beyond divisiveness and polarization and toward a new unity for the common good... I am [not] offended as a Muslim that Obama would not want to be one [a Muslim]; I couldn't care less. I am casting a vote for the next president of the United States, not the next imam of my mosque.”
These statements showing favoritism towards a particular candidate, including one denouncing that candidate’s opponent, flies in the face of the 501(c)(3) rules, as put forward by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States Department of Treasury.
According to the IRS, under its ‘Ban on Political Campaign Intervention,’ “For an organization to be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) it cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
One of CAIR’s local chapters, CAIR-Chicago, has its own politics-based website, The Mobilizer. The group’s political bent can easily be seen on it, with descriptions of the U.S. President as being the “war mongering, Muslim hating Bush” and White House activities as being the “crimes of this rogue administration.”
However, President Bush isn’t running for office. Senator John McCain is. And like CAIR National, CAIR-Chicago has denounced Senator McCain, even going so far as to say that Muslims will not be voting for him in November.
This month, on May 9, CAIR-Chicago posted on The Mobilizer a short video of Senator McCain. Above it, was written, “Muslims voting for McCain? Not after this!!”
The post, like CAIR National’s piece about Senator McCain, was a blatant violation of the group’s 501(c)(3). And as stated by the IRS, “Violating this ban [Ban on Political Campaign Intervention] may result in denial or revocation of the organization’s tax-exempt status...”
While CAIR may elect to use the excuse that it “didn’t know,” it will be difficult to do so, as the group’s Government Affairs Coordinator for its Chicago office and the administrator of The Mobilizer, Sadiya Ahmed, admitted that CAIR is not allowed to post opinions about political candidates. On February 1, on The Mobilizer, Ahmed stated, “I’ve been asking myself who I want to vote for this Tuesday and I can’t decide. Of course I won’t get into personal politics right now, given that CAIR-Chicago is a 501(C)3 and I’m speaking in my capacity as the Government Affairs Coordinator...”
Evidentally, Ahmed let other people’s “personal politics” get past her.It would be ironic if the downfall of CAIR would begin over its biased stance on political candidates and not from its long-term involvement with the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations. But given the bizarre fact that CAIR has lasted this long without the government taking any real action against it, it would seem to be appropriate.