Council on American-Islamic Relations presents itself as just another
civil-rights group. "We are similar to a Muslim NAACP," says spokesman
Ibrahim Hooper. Its public language - about promoting "interest and
understanding among the general public with regards to Islam and Muslims
in North America" - certainly boosts an image of moderation.
That reputation has permitted CAIR to prosper since its founding in 1994,
garnering sizeable donations, invitations to the White House, respectful
media citations and a serious hearing by corporations.
In reality, CAIR is something quite different. For starters, it's on the
wrong side in the war on terrorism. One indication came in October 1998,
when the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing
Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy," finding this depiction "offensive to
The same year, CAIR denied bin Laden's responsibility for the twin East
African embassy bombings. As Hooper saw it, those explosions resulted from
some vague "misunderstandings of both sides." (A New York court, however,
blamed bin Laden's side alone for the embassy blasts.)
In 2001, CAIR denied his culpability for the Sept. 11 massacre, saying
only that "if [note the "if"] Osama bin Laden was behind it, we condemn
him by name." (Only in December was CAIR finally embarrassed into
acknowledging his role.)
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."
Not surprisingly, CAIR also backs those who finance terrorism. When
President Bush closed the Holy Land Foundation in December for collecting
money he said was "used to support the Hamas terror organization," CAIR
decried his action as "unjust" and "disturbing."
CAIR even includes at least one person associated with terrorism in its
own ranks. On Feb. 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named Siraj Wahhaj
as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators"
in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments. Yet CAIR deems him "one
of the most respected Muslim leaders in America" and includes him on its
For these and other reasons, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism,
Steven Pomerantz, concludes that "CAIR, its leaders and its activities
effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."
Nor is terrorism the only disturbing aspect of CAIR's record. Other
Intimidating moderate Muslims. In at least two cases (Hisham Kabbani and
Khalid Durán), CAIR has defamed moderate Muslims who reject its extremist
agenda, leading to death threats against them.
Embracing murderers. CAIR responded to the arrest and conviction of Jamil
Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown) by praising him, raising funds for him
and then denying his guilt after his conviction for the murder of an
Atlanta policeman. Likewise with Ahmad Adnan Chaudhry of San Bernardino,
Calif.: Disregarding his conviction for attempting murder, CAIR declared
him "innocent" and set up a defense fund for him.
Promoting anti-Semitism. The head of CAIR's Los Angeles office, Hussam
Ayloush, routinely uses the term "zionazi" when referring to Israelis.
CAIR co-hosted an event in May 1998 at which an Egyptian militant Islamic
leader, Wagdi Ghunaym, called Jews the "descendants of the apes."
Aggressive ambitions. As reported by the San Ramon Valley Herald, CAIR
Chairman Omar M. Ahmad told a crowd of California Muslims 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."
CAIR's real record is one of extremism. North American Muslims themselves
are beginning to discover - and the government, leading media, churches,
and businesses should follow - that CAIR represents not the noble
civilization of Islam but an aggressive and radical strain similar to that
which led to the suicide hijackings last September. CAIR must be shunned
as a fringe group by responsible institutions and individuals throughout