The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) describes itself as a "non-profit, grassroots membership organization … established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America," to protect Muslims from hate crimes and discrimination, and to present "an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public." According to the Council's Director of Communications, Ibrahim Hooper, "We are similar to a Muslim NAACP." Only to the extent that the NAACP has fallen into America-bashing, identity politics, and grievance mongering is this characterization accurate.
CAIR has taken its toxic brew of anti-Americanism and Islamic supremacy to the halls of academia, dispatching spokesmen and apologists for radical Islam and terrorism to college campuses all across the United States.
On one occasion, for instance, CAIR's Executive Director, Nihad Awad, told an audience at Barry University in Florida: "After I researched the situation inside and outside Palestine, I am in support of the Hamas movement." On another occasion, Awad told a Georgetown University Muslim Students Association audience that Jewish advisers in the federal government “are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a third party [Israel], and they are the same people who are opposing the peace process.”
At a CAIR-sponsored rally at Brooklyn College, Egyptian cleric Wagdy Ghuneim told his audience: "Allah says [approvingly that] he who equips a warrior of jihad is like the one makes jihad himself." Moreover, Ghuneim led the attendees in a song containing the lyrics: “No to the Jews, descendants of the apes.”
In May 2008 former CAIR Advisory Board member Siraj Wahhaj, a suspected co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, delivered the keynote speech at a conference held at the University of Houston. Seven months ago, he was a guest speaker at the Islam Awareness Month festivities held at the University of Florida - Gainesville.
CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad, both of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas' public relations and recruitment arm in the United States. Awad and Ahmad previously had served, respectively, as IAP's Public Relations Director and President. Thus it can be said that CAIR was an outgrowth of IAP.
CAIR opened its first office in Washington, DC, with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a self-described "charity" founded by Mousa Abu Marzook. In May 1996, CAIR coordinated a press conference to protest the U.S. government’s decision to extradite Marzook for his fundraising activities on behalf of Hamas. CAIR decried the extradition as "anti-Islamic," "anti-American," "unjust," and "disturbing."
From its inception, CAIR has sought to portray itself as a moderate, mainstream organization, and as early as 1996 its officials became frequent guests at State Department and White House events. In the aftermath of 9/11, when the Bush administration tried to reassure American Muslims that the Islamic faith was not the target of the war on terrorism, CAIR officials were prominent among the invitees. The media likewise gave CAIR a wide platform from which to explain the "Muslim view" of the terrorist attacks and of America's response to them. It is notable that while CAIR reluctantly condemned Palestinian suicide bombings, it hedged its criticisms by describing such terrorism as an understandable response to Israeli brutality.
CAIR claims that U.S. foreign policy is dictated largely by Zionist extremists. As Evan McCormick of the Center for Security Policy puts it: "By convincing moderate Muslims that they are being targeted unfairly by the Bush administration's [anti-terror] policies, CAIR incites fear in members of that demographic. If innocent Muslims are then convinced that they will be the target of government action, then they have no incentive to reject an extremist ideology that resists the government's anti-terror policies. ... This is the essence of CAIR's strategy: shock moderate Muslims about the motivations of the U.S. Government, turn them into post-[9/11] victims, and then recruit them as supporters for your political agenda when they are ripe for the taking."
Along the same lines, a civil suit filed by the estate of 9/11 victim and former high-ranking FBI counter-terrorism agent John O'Neill, Sr. asserted that CAIR's goal "is to create as much self-doubt, hesitation, fear of name-calling, and litigation within police departments and intelligence agencies as possible so as to render such authorities ineffective in pursuing international and domestic terrorist entities."
CAIR promotes a radical Islamic vision, as evidenced by the fact that its co-founder Omar Ahmad told a Fremont, California audience in July 1998: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran … should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
In a similar spirit, co-founder Ibrahim Hooper told a reporter in 1993: "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." In 2003 Hooper stated that if Muslims ever become a majority in the United States, they will likely seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law, which they deem divinely inspired and, as such, superior to any "man-made" legal system.
In the late 1980s, Ihsan Bagby, who would later become a CAIR Board member, stated that Muslims "can never be full citizens of [the United States] because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country."
Writes Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz: "CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA, and the Cuban-controlled front groups that infiltrated 'Latin American solidarity' organizations in the U.S. during the 1980s. It has organized numerous community branches and has had immense success in gaining position as an 'official' representative of Islam in the U.S."
Notable facts about CAIR's relationship with Islamic extremism include the following:
- On February 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named CAIR Advisory Board member and New York Imam Siraj Wahhaj as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in Islamic Group leader Omar Abdel Rahman's foiled plot to blow up numerous New York City monuments.
- In October 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy." According to CAIR, this depiction was "offensive to Muslims."
- In September 2003, CAIR's former Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, pled guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and was deported to Egypt. Federal investigators said that a group Khafagi founded, the Islamic Assembly of North America, had funneled money to supporters of terrorism and had published material advocating suicide attacks against the United States. Khafagi's illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR.
- In July 2004, Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter, was convicted along with his four brothers of having illegally shipped computers from their Dallas-area business, InfoCom Corporation, to Libya and Syria, two designated state sponsors of terrorism. That same month, Elashi was charged with having provided more than $12.4 million to Hamas. In April 2005, Elashi and two of his brothers were also convicted of knowingly doing business with Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook. Like Bassem Khafagi, Elashi's illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR.
- FBI wiretap evidence introduced during the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation (a trial that explored HLF's financial ties to Hamas), proved that Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad had attended a 1993 Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and operatives who collaborated on a plan to disguise funding for Hamas as charitable donations.
- Randall Todd Royer, who served as a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, trained with Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization that is listed on the State Department's international terror list. He was also indicted on charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan. He later pled guilty to lesser firearm-related charges and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
- Onetime CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was arrested on terrorism-related charges and was deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, which in October 2002 was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
- Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of CAIR's former directors, is a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for terrorism-related convictions.
- Current CAIR board member Nabil Sadoun co-founded, along with Mousa Abu Marzook, the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), which investigators consider to be a key Hamas front in America.
- One of CAIR's founding directors, Rafeeq Jaber, is a supporter of Hezbollah and served as the longtime President of the Islamic Association for Palestine.
CAIR’s contempt for Israel is revealed not only by its affiliations with some of the Israel-hating, Jew-hating organizations named above, but also by its actions and statements regarding the Jewish state.
Referring to Israel as a "racist country and state," for instance, CAIR signed a May 20, 2004 "Joint Muslims/Arab-American Statement on Israeli Violence in Gaza," which "strongly condemn[ed]" Israel's "indiscriminate killings of innocent Palestinians, including many children," and its "demolition of Palestinian homes."
In August 2006 CAIR accused Israel of practicing state terrorism in its war against the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. Said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, "Our [American] government must end its support for Israel's campaign of terror in Lebanon and join an international effort to protect and bring humanitarian aid to the civilian population of that devastated nation."
In the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, it was learned that CAIR's parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, had been named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum as one of the Brotherhood's likeminded "organizations of our friends" who shared the common goal of conducting "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
All in all, we can confidently say that Ibrahim Hooper’s previously cited depiction of CAIR as something akin to "a Muslim NAACP" does not begin to tell the full story. The fact that CAIR’s agenda is so frequently presented to impressionable college students as something moderate and reasonable, is cause for great concern.