The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc., filed a defamation lawsuit against Andrew Whitehead, of Anti-CAIR (or ACAIR), a grass-roots project whose name explains its mission: to expose the largest, most vocal, and dangerous Islamist organization in North America.
CAIR's March 2004 lawsuit is part of what seems to be a policy of using the legal process to silence or chill critics. In this case, CAIR claimed it had been harmed by six statements on ACAIR's website, including CAIR's being founded by Hamas supporters, being partially funded by terrorists, and intending to impose Islamic law on the United States.
Then, on June 20, 2005, CAIR filed an amended motion that substantially cut back on its libel claims, retaining just portions of two of the original six statements. With original misspellings retained, the offending passages are:
- Let their be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization….
- [CAIR] seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States….
Why did CAIR drastically reduce its claims versus Whitehead?
It might have to do with Whitehead, admirably represented by Reed Rubinstein of Greenberg Traurig LLP, having responded to CAIR's lawsuit with an extensive and well informed set of discovery requests and documents. These filings perhaps established for CAIR the depth of Whitehead's knowledge and the soundness of his opinions. If so, then CAIR's leadership concluded that the bulk of its case against Whitehead would collapse in court.
CAIR's filing an amended motion has two apparent implications: that CAIR has tacitly acknowledged the truth of Whitehead's deleted assertions; and those assertions can now be repeated with legal impunity.
We list here the key statements that CAIR no longer deems legally improper, followed by some speculations as to why it might have decided not to contest them in court.
- [CAIR is an] organization founded by Hamas supporters….
- CAIR was started by Hamas members….
- CAIR … was founded by Islamic terrorists.
CAIR's leadership must have stretched its collective memory back to 1994 and recalled (along with counterterrorism expert Matthew Epstein) that Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, former officials of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), founded the organization, while IAP's president, Rafeeq Jabar, was (according to Steve Emerson) one of CAIR's founding directors.
Former FBI counterterrorism chief Oliver "Buck" Revell has described the IAP as "a front organization for Hamas." This linkage between the IAP and Hamas was decisively established in 2004, when a federal judge in Chicago found it partially liable for $156 million in damages for its role in aiding and abetting Hamas in the murder of David Boim, a 17-year-old American citizen.
And, CAIR no doubt remembered that it had been caught by Joe Kaufman exploiting the 9/11 attacks to raise funds for two Hamas-linked fundraising organizations, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and the Global Relief Foundation.
- [CAIR] is partially funded by terrorists…
Terrorists themselves don't literally give out money, but organizations that fund terrorism also fund CAIR.
The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank gave CAIR $250,000 in August 1999. The IDB also manages funds (Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa) which finance suicide bombings against Israeli civilians by providing funds to the families of Palestinian "martyrs."
The International Institute of Islamic Thought, an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, gave CAIR's Washington office $14,000 in 2003, according to IIIT tax filings. David Kane, who investigated IIIT as part of Operation Green Quest's probe into some one hundred companies and organizations, described in a sworn affidavit the various ways in which it may have funded suspected terrorist-front organizations.
The International Relief Organization (also called the International Islamic Relief Organization, or IIRO), a Saudi-financed organization being investigated by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance for terrorism financing donated at least $12,000 to CAIR.
- CAIR receives direct funding from Islamic terrorist supporting countries.
CAIR has received funds from Saudi Arabia, such as the $250,000 from the Islamic Development Bank noted above. In addition, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi-sponsored charity (and another one suspected of financing terror), announced in December 1999 that it "was extending both moral and financial support to CAIR" to help it construct its $3.5 million headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Saudi Arabia, the homeland Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, is reasonably described as "terrorist supporting." The 9/11 Commission staff describes Saudi Arabia as having an environment where "fund-raisers and facilitators throughout Saudi Arabia and the Gulf" raised money for al Qaeda. In July 2005, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey stated that "even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a significant source of terrorist financing, including for the insurgency in Iraq."
- CAIR has proven links to… Islamic terrorists.
It's easy to understand why CAIR chose to leave this one alone, what with five current or former CAIR affiliates arrested, convicted, or deported on terrorism-related charges:
Randall Royer, CAIR's communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, was indicted on charges of conspiring to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to battle American troops in Afghanistan. He later pled guilty to lesser firearm-related charges and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR's Texas chapter, was convicted in July 2004 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. In April of 2005, Elashi and two brothers were also convicted of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader and Specially Designated Terrorist. He continues to face charges that he provided more than $12.4 million to Hamas while he was running the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), America's largest Islamic charity.
Bassem Khafagi, CAIR's community relations director, pleaded guilty in September 2003 to lying on his visa application and for passing bad checks for substantial amounts in early 2001, for which he was deported. Khafagi was also a founding member and president of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), an organization under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for terrorism-related activities.
Rabih Haddad, a CAIR fundraiser, was arrested on terrorism-related charges and deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as executive director of the Global Relief Foundation, a charity he co-founded; in October 2002, GRF was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. According to a CAIR complaint, Homam Albaroudi, a member of CAIR's Michigan chapter and also a founding member and executive director of the IANA also founded the Free Rabih Haddad Committee.
Siraj Wahhaj, a CAIR advisory board member, was named in 1995 by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as a possible unindicted co-conspirator in connection with the plot to blow up New York City landmarks led by the blind sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman.
- CAIR is a fundamentalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America.
- CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of a SHARIA law in American.
- [CAIR seeks to replace the government of the United States] with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection....
- CAIR is here to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States and to convert our country into an Islamic theocracy along the lines of Iran.
CAIR's goals are clear, as indicated by its leaders' sometimes revealing comments:
Ihsan Bagby, a future CAIR board member, stated in the late 1980s that Muslims "can never be full citizens of this country," referring to the United States, "because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country."
Ibrahim Hooper, the future CAIR spokesman, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on April 4, 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."
Omar Ahmad, CAIR's chairman, announced in July 1998 that "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."
These facts suggest why CAIR felt it had to drop most of its libel claims against Andrew Whitehead. Should this case go to court, we will watch with interest how Whitehead's two remaining opinions (that CAIR is a terrorist-supporting front organization and that it seeks to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States) fare.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers). Ms Chadha is the co-author of two forthcoming books on the Middle East.
July 28, 2005 update: For a bbliography of the CAIR v. Anti-CAIR lawsuit, see the updates at "Why Is CAIR Suing Anti-CAIR?"