Originally published under the title, "Does CAIR Represent Boston's Muslim Community?"
Notwithstanding this powerfully staged April 2015 photo-op of CAIR chapter directors, none of the "chapters" fundraise, solicit membership dues, or undertake other activities demonstrating substantial community support. Some don't exist at all.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in America's largest terrorism financing case, which is officially banned from FBI cooperation, claims to be a mainstream organization advocating for the civil rights of American Muslims. Shortly after Usaama Rahim was shot by law enforcement in Boston on June 2, CAIR leapt into action.
The national organization, that is. Its National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper, was quoted in an AP story on the day of the shooting as identifying Rahim, who was communicating with ISIS and under 24-hour surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and serving as an intermediary with Rahim's family. Hooper was also quoted by ABC, asserting that CAIR "will monitor the investigation" of the shooting. Its National Civil Rights Litigation Director, Jenifer Wicks, was quoted in a June 3 Boston Globe story, asking for an independent and thorough investigation "given the recent high profile shootings of African-American men." Wicks' name also appeared on a June 3 press release the national organization issued about the shooting.
Contrary to CAIR's press release, it has no local chapter in Boston.
Although the press release coyly refers to "CAIR-Boston," and although Hooper told MSNBC "two of our Massachusetts chapter board members were in the meeting" at which authorities showed the surveillance video of the shooting, there is no local chapter there – hence the need for the national office to jump in. One finds an occasional reference to CAIR Massachusetts as, for instance, on the CAIR Kansas website, but the link is defunct. The telephone directory has no listing of a number for CAIR or Council on American-Islamic Relations in Boston. CAIR's chapter list, which records a total of 28 chapters (a Washington office and 27 state chapters), does not mention any CAIR branch in the state.
On previous occasions, CAIR proudly proclaimed that it had at least 32 chapters. Back in July 2007, CAIR claimed to have grown to 33 chapters. In another publication from the same month, it claimed to have a total of 32 chapters across the United States. Five years later, it was claiming the same number of 32, "nationwide and in Canada." Somehow it lost at least four United States chapters in the interim. There is a website for a National Council of Canadian Muslims, elsewhere referred to as CAIR-CAN; even if this is a vibrant organization, there is no information about local chapters. Counting Canada, CAIR has a total of 29 chapters.
Defunct chapter links on the CAIR Kansas webpage
Defunct chapter links on the CAIR Kansas webpage
CAIR websites (e.g., CAIR Kansas and CAIR Ohio) list defunct hyperlinks to CAIR Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, and South Carolina, in addition to Massachusetts. CAIR's list identifies chapters in Georgia and Kentucky but atypically lists no website or email address for either. It does include a hyperlink to a website for CAIR New Jersey, but the account has been "suspended." It lists no chapters in Nevada, South Carolina, or Massachusetts.
There was an Atlanta-based "NGA" chapter, but it appears to be defunct. It has not filed a tax return since 2008, and reported no income after 2006. Its website returns "server not found," and it does not appear on CAIR's list.
Let's return to CAIR's national office. In 2000, the year before 9/11, it had a membership of 29,000. By 2006, five years after 9/11, membership had dropped to under 1,700. In 2000, it received $732,765 income from membership dues. By 2004, which is to say, three years after 9/11, this Muslim Brotherhood organization claimed to have received only $119,029 income from membership dues. Its income for the latter part of the decade cannot be determined because, for three years, it failed to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. For the years 2011-2013, it reported zero income from membership dues.
For the years 2011-2013, CAIR reported the income at right.
It should also be noted that in 2005, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc., set up a new corporation, CAIR Foundation, Inc., transferred some assets to the new entity ("new CAIR"), and eventually renamed itself the Washington Trust Foundation, Inc. The relationship between the two corporations is, at best, confusing, with hundreds of thousands of dollars being lent back and forth between the two.
In 2013, Washington Trust Foundation ("old CAIR") reported "contributions, gifts, [or] grants" totaling $381,500. It reported no income from membership dues or fundraising events.
It's unclear from where new or old CAIR's money is coming, but one thing is clear: it isn't membership dues from the American Muslims CAIR claims to represent, and little is coming from formal fundraising efforts to the American Muslim community. Whatever persons or groups are financing CAIR – which last year the United Arab Emirates designated as a terrorist organization – it is reasonable to suppose that CAIR is representing their interests, not those of its "membership."
Even if the national CAIR organization truly represented its "membership" in the national American Muslim community, why is it pretending to represent the Massachusetts Muslim community?
Johanna Markind is associate counselor at the Middle East Forum