What is CAIR?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded in 1994 by three officials of the Islamic Association of Palestine, which was found to be a front for the terror group Hamas in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial.

During that same trial, the prosecutors designated CAIR as an “unindicted coconspirator.”

Nihad Awad, one of CAIR’s original founders, currently its Executive Director, peddles conspiracy theories of sinister Jewish control over American politics. Awad has stated, for example, that U.S. foreign policy was propelled by Clinton administration officials of a particular “ethnic background.”

CAIR claims to be a civil rights group that advocates on behalf of American Muslims. In reality, it is an unelected, unpopular Islamist body, with no mandate from American Muslims. Critics accuse CAIR of working to demonize moderate Muslims, promote non-violent extremism and of lobbying on behalf of convicted terrorists.

Does CAIR represent American Muslims?

No. CAIR is good at appearing to represent American Muslims, but the organization commands very little support among the majority of America’s moderate Muslims. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, around 88% of American Muslims said that CAIR does not best represent their interests. In 2007, the Washington Times reported that CAIR’s membership was a paltry 1,700 – a tiny proportion of the estimated +5 million Muslims living in the United States.


Why is CAIR generally treated by the media as a representative voice of American Muslims?

American Islam is extremely diverse, and no single group can claim to represent our country’s Muslims. However, Islamist bodies are inherently political movements, and have successfully imposed their leadership on American Muslims because traditional religious groups, which lack media savvy and political know-how, have been unable to compete. When politicians in D.C. or the editors at the New York Times ask to speak to the “Muslim community,” groups such as CAIR step forward.


Is CAIR truly moderate, as it claims?

According to anti-Islamist Muslim activists such as Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, CAIR and its partners “condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism.” Seifeldin Ashmawy, a prominent Muslim activist, claimed CAIR serves to “champion extremists whose views do not represent Islam.”


CAIR denies it is connected to extremist movements. Where do you get your facts from?

CAIR does indeed deny a lot of the charges levelled against it, labeling them “conspiracy theories.” But evidence that links CAIR to the terrorist group Hamas and to global radical Islamist networks such as the Muslim Brotherhood comes from federal prosecutors, a high-profile terror financing court case and the Muslim Brotherhood themselves.

In 2008, the then-deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohammed Habib, confirmed that there was a “relationship” between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood, but added that, “this is a sensitive subject, and it’s kind of problematic, especially after 9/11.”

During the 2008 terrorism financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, federal prosecutors designated CAIR as an “unindicted coconspirator,” with U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis concluding that, “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR…with Hamas.”

In the Muslim world, CAIR’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood are so evident that, in 2014, the United Arab Emirates, a pious Muslim state, designated CAIR a terrorist organization.

Is CAIR blacklisted by the government? CAIR claims it still works with law enforcement.

The Justice Department has enforced a ban on working with CAIR in place since 2009, after the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial established “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas.”

The FBI wrote to federal legislators in 2009 to explain that they had “suspended all formal contacts between CAIR and the FBI” in the light of evidence that “demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders and the Palestine Committee,” as well as evidence that “demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and Hamas, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995.” [See full letter below]

Since then, perhaps not knowing any better, local branches of the FBI have met with CAIR officials. But in response, the Justice Department has published a report that censured FBI officials for doing so.


Has CAIR since been exonerated?

No. CAIR claims that its designation as an “unindicted coconspirator” has since been deemed unfair by the courts. It cites a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that CAIR’s inclusion on the list was the result of “simply an untested allegation of the Government made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass.”

CAIR neglects to mention, however, that the Court upheld the designation of CAIR as an unindicted coconspirator, merely ruling that the district court should have sealed the order.


Is CAIR Anti-Semitic?

The Anti-Defamation League concludes that CAIR has long expressed anti-Semitic and pro-terror rhetoric, adding that, “[CAIR’s] public statements cast Jews and Israelis as corrupt agents who control both foreign and domestic U.S. policy and are responsible for the persecution of Muslims in the U.S.”

CAIR Executive Director, Nihad Awad, has claimed that US policy is “driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials. … Who is opposing the latest agreement with Iraq? Look at their names. Look at their ethnic, their ethnic or religious or racial background. You will see that these are the same groups that belong to the same interest groups in the Administration…”

In 2000, the Al-Lewa’a newspaper reported that Awad said: “The Jews plan to distort Islam’s image and have succeeded in their plans. This Jewish plan had borne hostility towards Islam and deforming its image.”


Does CAIR support Islamic supremacism?

CAIR officials publicly claim that CAIR “embraces the cultural and religious pluralism that is a hallmark of America and repudiates any misuse of Islam to falsely justify violence or intolerance.”

But other CAIR officials, speaking in more private settings, have said otherwise. 

CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad:

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faiths, 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.”

Ihsan Bagby, CAIR board member:

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.”


Does CAIR support terrorism? 

On the face of it, CAIR is a vocal opponent of terrorist acts. It regularly denounces murderous attacks, such as the recent shootings in California, and has supported fatwas against terrorism.

Despite these effusive condemnations, however, CAIR has a long history of apologism for convicted terrorists and particular foreign terrorist groups.

IN 1999, CAIR leader Omar Ahmad gave a speech at a conference organized by the Islamic Association of Palestine (a Hamas front), in which he described suicide bombers as: “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam – that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.”

In 2002, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper defended Saudi payments to families of suicide bombers. In 2003, Hooper refused to condemn Palestinian Islamic Jihad, claiming that “they’re in a world apart from al Qaeda.”

Daniel Pipes writes: “CAIR consistently defends other militant Islamic terrorists too. The conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing it deemed ‘a travesty of justice.’ The conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, it called a ‘hate crime.’ The extradition order for suspected Hamas terrorist Mousa Abu Marook it labeled ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘anti-American.’”


Is CAIR, at heart, a terrorist organization?

CAIR has been labelled a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates. In the United States, despite its designation as an “unindicted coconspirator,” the reality is a little more complex.

Although CAIR does not openly incite violence, some counter-terrorism experts might consider it a “non-violent extremist” group. Non-violent extremists usually promote hatred of Western ideals, non-Muslims, and Muslims from other sects; but, they do not direct their supporters to act violently on these beliefs.

Muslims who pass through their doors, however, are often able to find justifications for terror, and are readily instilled with grievances against the West. These institutions may not hand young Muslims a rifle or suicide bomb belt, but many of them distribute texts and preach sermons that inspire young Muslims to take their anger one step further. This is known as the conveyor belt theory of radicalization, in which the ideas imparted by non-violent extremists serve to turn radicals into terrorists.

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