CAIR plays defense

It has been a bad week for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The group that has successfully presented itself as a Muslim civil rights group is seeing a radically different portrayal of its motives and goals come to light in the Holy Land Foundation terror charity trial in Dallas. The Associated Press reported Monday that prosecutors have produced documents establishing that CAIR was part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. Mousa Abu Marzook, who once served as chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, led this group. CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad has been placed at a meeting of Hamas supporters — which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since in 1994, the year CAIR was founded, Awad stated publicly, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

CAIR Chairman Parvez Ahmed dismissed the idea that CAIR had anything to do with Hamas. “That’s one of those urban legends about CAIR. It’s fed by the right-wing, pro-Israeli blogosphere.”

Unfortunately for Ahmed, the Holy Land trial was making this position ever more difficult to sustain. One document that has come to light at the trial sets out goals for the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, “whose members,” according to AP, “included some of the Holy Land leaders now on trial.” The memo urges Brotherhood members in the U.S. to “understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

Of course, CAIR would deny having any such agenda. CAIR officials have met with Presidents Clinton and Bush, and have long had the ear of the mainstream media. It has even conducted sensitivity training seminars for FBI agents. But the troubling aspects of its record are becoming increasingly well known. Shortly after 9/11, CAIR’s website called for donations for the Holy Land Foundation. 

Consistent also with the Brotherhood memo is the now-notorious and controversial statement of CAIR’s cofounder and former Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. In 1998, he told a Muslim audience that “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…” Although Ahmad now denies saying this, the reporter stands by the accuracy of her story. CAIR’s 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; CAIR’s communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, Randall Todd Ismail Royer; and fundraiser Rabih Haddad have been convicted of various terrorism-related offenses.

CAIR is also involved in the notorious Flying Imams lawsuit. The “Flying Imams” are six imams who are suing US Airways because they were removed from a flight for suspicious behavior. They also originally brought suit against the passengers who reported them, although after immense public pressure they dropped this part of their suit. Still, the damage was done: after the wide publicity their suit against the passengers received, fewer people will dare without hesitation to report suspicious behavior in an airport. And jihad terrorists will be the principal beneficiaries. The lawyer for the Flying Imams is Omar T. Mohammedi, who as of 2006 was president of CAIR’s New York chapter.

Is the Flying Imams lawsuit, with its chilling effect on the reporting of suspicious behavior, part of a “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within”? Maybe it isn’t. But longtime observers of the tactics and activities of the Council on American Islamic Relations, up to and including its officials’ repeated and adamant refusals to condemn Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups, can reasonably see in CAIR a pattern of behavior entirely consistent with this goal. CAIR, if it truly does not wish to see the destruction of Western civilization, has a chance now to demonstrate this by abandoning its strategies of legal intimidation and the bullying of its critics, and beginning to work honestly for the defense of that civilization.

Will it take that opportunity?