Last night Paul Mirengoff wrote about Mary Jacoby's IPT report that the FBI has cut off voluntary association with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR holds itself out as a civil rights group and has insinuated itself into programs sponsored by government agencies as a bona fide spokesman for America's Islamic community. Knowledgeable observers have nevertheless long had their doubts about CAIR.
Last autumn, FBI field offices began notifying state CAIR chapters that bureau officials could no longer meet with them until CAIR's national leadership in Washington had addressed issues raised by the HLF trial, according to people with knowledge of the notifications.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper declined to comment Wednesday when the IPT called for comment. Before hanging up, Hooper said, "We're more than happy to cooperate with legitimate media. But we don't cooperate with those who promote anti-Muslim bigotry."
In one letter obtained by IPT News, James E. Finch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Oklahoma City field office, canceled a meeting of the local Muslim Community Outreach Program, a state-federal program designed to enlist Muslims in terrorism prevention and investigate reports of civil liberties violations.
"Regrettably, due to circumstances beyond my control, the meeting will be postponed until further notice as a result of the planned participation by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations," Finch's Oct. 8, 2008 letter to Muslim groups in the Oklahoma outreach program said.
Finch made clear the Oklahoma office valued its relationship with local Muslims. He said the stumbling block to further outreach was CAIR's national leadership.
"[I]f CAIR wishes to pursue an outreach relationship with the FBI, certain issues must be addressed to the satisfaction of the FBI. Unfortunately, these issues cannot be addressed at the local level and must be addressed by the CAIR National Office in Washington, D.C.," the letter said.
A spokesman for the FBI's Oklahoma City office referred questions about the letter to the FBI's national press office. In Washington, FBI spokesman John Miller said, "We've certainly been in contact with CAIR chapters" about the un-indicted co-conspirator designation. "The letter speaks for itself."
Letters with similar wording were sent in other states, people with knowledge of the matter said. It is not known how many letters were issued, but the FBI has had strong working relationships with CAIR chapters in states including Ohio, Michigan, Arizona and Florida.
Is the broad import of Jacoby's report accurate? It's difficult to tell. Jacoby nevertheless lucidly summarizes the evidence demonstrating that CAIR is a Hamas front group.
Operating in the guise of an Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation was Hamas's most important fundraiser. The Bush administration shuttered it in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The government subsequently brought criminal charges against HLF and its principals. In June 2007 the government designated CAIR one of approximately 300 unindicted co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation in the HLF prosecution.
Also included among the unindicted co-conspirators along with CAIR was the Islamic Society of North America. Audrey Hudson reported in August 2007 that the FBI paid for a booth at the ISNA convention in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. Has the FBI awakened to the nature of ISNA? Winfield Myers reported last month that the president of ISNA was to deliver a prayer at the National Cathedral during the National Prayer Service on January 21 as part of the festivities for the inauguration.
In response to its designation as an undicted co-conspirator of the HLF, CAIR sought to have itself delisted by the court. CAIR was understandably concerned that its association with the Holy Land Foundation prosecution might give people an idea about the organization. CAIR explained in its brief:
[T]he public "outing" of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator fundamentally undercuts their [sic] central mission to protect Muslim-Americans' civil rights and foster an atmosphere of acceptance of Muslims in American society. Any message that CAIR tries to deliver to the American public, will be undercut by the insinuation that they are a criminal terrorist organization. The American public and the media which CAIR uses to deliver its message will no longer believe in the veracity of such message because CAIR will be perceived as a terrorist front organization.
One can only hope that the message has gotten through.