In restricting its field offices’ contacts with CAIR to investigative matters, the FBI was clearly indicating it did not want to legitimize the Hamas-linked group in any way. CAIR has long urged its members not to collaborate with the FBI. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which calls itself a “civil rights organization,” though it is much more, in a sinister vein, than that, has been the beneficiary of journalistic malpractice. A recent example of this, at the Washington Post, is reported on here: “The Washington Post Gives CAIR a Boost,” by Sean Durns, Algemeiner, January 24, 2022:
“Fake news is cheap to produce,” Toomas Hendrik Ilves once observed, but “genuine journalism is expensive.” The former Estonian prime minister’s observation is only partially true, however.
In 2013, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos acquired The Washington Post for $250 million — and despite slagging [sic] numbers in 2021, the newspaper’s value has reportedly only increased since then. The Post employs hundreds of journalists, editors, and “fact checkers,” and is one of the few American newspapers to continue to have foreign bureaus. In sum: the paper’s resources are considerable, particularly when compared to many of its competitors. But the Post’s reporting still comes up short.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) bills itself as a civil rights organization representing Muslims. In fact, however, the organization rarely promotes civil rights for others, and it has a long history of antisemitism. Several of its employees and lay leaders have been linked to terrorism. And yet,The Washington Post has seen fit to provide PR for the group.
A January 12, 2022, article by Post religion correspondent Michelle Boorstein and reporter Hannah Allam was more stenography than genuine journalism. The dispatch was ostensibly about “moles” inside of CAIR, but it treated claims by the organization uncritically.
The newspaper called CAIR “the nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights group,” but failed to note CAIR’s troubling history — which is a matter of public record.
Michelle Boorstein’s report uncritically accepts CAIR’s self-description as the “nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights group,” when she ought to have written that “CAIR calls itself the nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights group” and gone on to discuss just what it was about CAIR that makes it so very different from a “civil rights group,” and has made it a cause for such alarm in the American security establishment that some security organizations found it necessary to work with “moles” inside CAIR to report on its inner workings.
As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) noted in a June 2019 Jerusalem Post op-ed, CAIR has had no fewer than five former lay leaders or staffers who have been arrested, convicted, and/or deported for terrorism related charges.
Indeed, CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing case in US history. This latter charge comes not from CAMERA or the myriad of nonprofits, many Jewish, that CAIR has slandered as “Islamophobic.” Rather, it comes from the FBI itself.
In an April 28, 2009, letter, the FBI said:
CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in the United States v. Holy Land Foundation et al…During that trial, evidence was introduced that demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders (including its current President Emeritus and Executive Director) and the Palestine Committee. Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and Hamas, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995. In light of that evidence, the FBI suspended ties between [itself] and CAIR.
Every single article on CAIR ought to include, at a minimum, the following: “CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in the United States v. Holy Land Foundation et al.” The Washington Post article did not mention this, nor did it mention the close ties of CAIR as an organization, and individual officials of the group, both to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Committee, and to Hamas itself.
The FBI subsequently restricted its field offices’ “non-investigative interactions with CAIR,” according to a September 2013 US Department of Justice Inspector-General report that was issued under the Obama administration.
In restricting its field offices’ contacts with CAIR to investigative matters, the FBI was clearly indicating it did not want to legitimize the Hamas-linked group in any way. CAIR has long urged its members not to collaborate with the FBI. A poster which appeared on the website of CAIR’s California chapter featured a sinister-looking FBI agent with the headlines “Build a Wall of Resistance” and “Don’t Talk to the FBI.”
As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has observed, CAIR’s name remains on the list of unindicted co-conspirators for the Holy Land Foundation trial.
Further, CAIR itself has often been a purveyor of hate.
In a March 1998 article in the Georgetown Voice, CAIR’s longtime leader, Nihad Awad, claimed that US foreign policy was “driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials.”
Nihad Awad’s claim is, in essence, the antisemitic trope about the powerful influence of a cabal of Jews – in this case, Jews who helped shape foreign policy during the Clinton Administration.
In March 1994 comments at Barry University in Florida, Awad said “after I researched the situation inside Palestine and outside, I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO.” Awad has previously characterized Hamas and Hezbollah, both Islamist terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction, as merely “resistance movements.”
Wouldn’t it have been instrucive for Michele Boorstein, in her article on CAIR, to mention that the long-time head of the group, Nihad Awad, supports Hamas, which the American government, along with many others, has outlawed as a terror group? But she chose to keep out all such unpleasant information about the “Muslim civil rights group.”
In July 2014,Awad claimed that the “Israel lobby has corrupted American politicians by skewing US foreign policy to support killing of civilian population in #Gaza….”
Awad, like his soulmate Ilhan Omar, believes that the Israel lobby has bought the votes – “it’s all about the benjamins!” — of American politicians. He can’t imagine that there might be any other reason for supporting the state of Israel against the terror groups — Hamas, Hezbollah – that wish to destroy it.
As for “killing the civilian population in Gaza,” Nihad Awad knows perfectly well that the IDF makes tremendous efforts to minimize civilian casualties, warning civilians to leave buildings about to be targeted, by telephoning, emailing, leafletting, and using the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, and served in a half-dozen wars, has studied closely the IDF’s performance in conflicts, and has declared that on the basis of his observation and experience, he has concluded that Israel “has the most moral army In the world.”
Indeed, the ADL’s website address chronicling — with sources — CAIR’s history of antisemitism and inflammatory statements encompasses multiple pages.
CAIR also lacks credibility for other reasons.
In 2016, a US Court of Appeals ruling suggested that CAIR should be tried for fraud. The organization was accused of defrauding hundreds of people, many Muslims, who had relied on the group for legal aid. In 2019, after two adverse legal decisions, CAIR settled with several of the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit began after CAIR hired for its Virginia offices a fake lawyer, Morris Days, who defrauded dozens, if not hundreds, of CAIR clients who had hired him, based on his being a “lawyer for CAIR,” for immigration and similar matters. Once the fraud began to unravel, CAIR engaged in a massive cover-up, closing down the Virginia offices, firing the lawyer, and claiming to the victims that Days was not actually a CAIR lawyer. CAIR knew of Days’ fraudulent misrepresentation from the beginning, and deliberately conspired with Days to keep the CAIR clients from discovering that their legal matters were being mishandled or not handled at all.
More recently, in January 2022, CAIR dropped a lawsuit against one of its former employees, Lori Saroya, who had accused the organization of “rampant sexual harassment and discrimination.”
Yet, none of this history is mentioned in the Post’s CAIR puff piece. Nor can Postreporter Michelle Boorstein plead ignorance. The Post correspondent has written numerous pieces on CAIR throughout the years — nearly all of which have failed to disclose the group’s sordid history.
Further, CAMERA has, on several occasions, sent proof, including documents from the FBI, to the Post, with Boorstein either the direct recipient or cc’d. It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that, when it comes to CAIR at least, the Post’s religion correspondent is not reporting in good faith.
The Post’s inability to report honestly and forthrightly about CAIR is costly.
On January 15, 2022 — less than three days after the Post’s report on CAIR appeared — a British Pakistani man named Malik Faisal Akram took members of Congregation Beth Israel synagogue hostage in Colleyville, Texas. Akram demanded the release of Aaifa Siddiqui, a woman who had been convicted by US courts for trying to murder US soldiers. Siddiqui, who was married to the nephew of the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was so antisemitic that she insisted that no Jews serve on her jury “if they have a Zionist or Israeli background.” She also requested that the jurors be subject to a DNA test to prove that they didn’t have Jewish ancestry.
Akram was killed by members of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), and the hostages managed to escape. Yet, as the Post noted in a subsequent, January 16, 2022 report — entitled “Who is ‘Lady Al-Qaeda’” — efforts to free Siddiqui “has long been a cause celebre in Islamist militant circles.” These circles, the Post pointed out, include US-designated terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
But it also includes CAIR.
Surely Boorstein’s readers deserve to know that CAIR, that “so-called Muslim civil rights group,” is on the same side as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, in trying to force the American government to free Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence for her attempt to murder an American soldier at a police station in Ghazni. She was, and remains, a devoted supporter of al-Qaeda, nicknamed “Lady Al-Qaeda.” She married an Al-Qaeda member, who is also the nephew of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. This is the person CAIR is determined to set free.
As Hen Mazzig noted in Newsweek, CAIR’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter had campaigned for Siddiqui’s release, labeling her conviction “one of the greatest examples of injustice in US history.” Other CAIR officials made similar claims. And the executive director of CAIR’s San Francisco office, Zahra Billoo, told the annual conference of American Muslims for Palestine to monitor even “polite Zionists,” including the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation chapters, Hillel and “Zionist synagogues.” “They are not your friends,” Billoo added. The CAIR employee then referred to Jewish houses of faiths as “enemies” of the Muslim community.
CAIR, Mazzig pointed out, has stood by Billoo….
Will Michelle Boorstein take any of these criticisms of her CAIR coverage to heart, and rectify her reporting? She could let readers know about the close ties of CAIR officials to Hamas, and about CAIR founder and director Nihad Awad’s praise of the terror group. She could tell them what led CAIR to be named as an “an unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial. She could tell them, too, of CAIR’s efforts to persuade Muslims not to cooperate with American security personnel: “Don’t Talk To The FBI.” She might mention the successful lawsuit – by Muslims – against CAIR for fraud, in presenting a non-lawyer, Morris Days, as a lawyer on their staff, leading to all kinds of trouble for Days’ trusting Muslim clients. Boorstein could consider why CAIR is the main Muslim organization calling for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, engaged in the same Free-Aafia campaign as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Oh, there’s so much Boorstein has left out not just from this, her latest article on CAIR, but from dozens of articles she’s written about CAIR over the last few years.
It’s time to make amends.
How about this, Ms. Boorstein? We’ll leave you alone, no more criticism of how you’ve covered CAIR, If only you grant us one wish, a most reasonable one. All we ask is that you to write a handful of articles — even one long one would do it — that will contain the dubious and damning aspects of CAIR, as discussed above. All of them. Nothing extenuate. Is it a deal?