CAIR Sees 'Islamophobia' Behind Terrorist Claims

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - Smear campaigns organized through a network of "small but vocal anti-Muslim bigots" are driving allegations of terrorist ties now facing the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), according to document recently released by the group.

However, Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, sees duplicity in CAIR's rhetoric. The organization's claim to moderation does not square with its activities, financial ties and hiring practices, Spencer said. Moreover, he contends, CAIR has been working to silence reformers who are willing to challenge radical Islam.

A lawyer representing CAIR sent a letter to the Young America's Foundation (YAF) last week, demanding that the conservative group either cancel or restrain a planned session with Spencer entitled, "The Truth about the Council on American Islamic Relations."

YAF officials told Cybercast News Service they have received no further communication from CAIR or its attorneys.

CAIR's letter also called attention to the group's activities that supposedly indicate "a principled position against terrorism and extremism." The CAIR attorney, Joseph Sandler noted, for instance, that CAIR backed a "fatwa against terrorism" in 2005. But Spencer was unmoved by this claim.

"This fatwa was vastly flawed," he said in an interview. "It was flawed in particular because it condemned attacks on innocent civilians without defining what an innocent civilian is. If you read the writings and statements of jihadists they will tell you American, Israeli, and British citizens are not innocent and are not civilians. That's what needs to be addressed.

"What we need is a statement by CAIR, if they choose to give us one, saying American civilians [and the citizens of other Western nations and American allies in other parts of the world] are innocent civilians under Islamic law and cannot thereby legally be victimized by Islamic Jihadist attacks. But there has been no such statement."

Spencer also said CAIR has declined to condemn the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas whenever it is asked to do so. This point is addressed in CAIR's document. The document does not denounce Hezbollah or Hamas by name. Instead, it says, "We are unequivocally against terrorism and any group that hurts innocent civilians deserves condemnation."

Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, did not acknowledge a Cybercast News Service invitation to comment further on the legal threat against YAF. But he did provide the document challenging allegations of terrorist ties.

As previously reported by Cybercast News Service, Spencer gave his speech as scheduled with YAF's full support.

YAF's Jason Mattera said: "CAIR, you need to be reminded that this is America, not Saudi Arabia, and in America we have something called the Bill of Rights. I advise you to review amendments one and two."

Spencer was equally defiant. "They can come and kill me," he said. "But I will not submit."

While CAIR claims to be the victim of "false and defamatory statements," a look at its history suggests otherwise, said Spencer. CAIR's co-founders were once active with the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an organization shut down in 2005 as a result of its financial support for terrorist activity, he said.

He also cited a U.S. government report that described IAP as being closely affiliated with Hamas, a radical Islamist group that the State Department has identified as a terrorist organization. CAIR officials who once were active with IAP include Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, and Hooper, the CAIR spokesman.

However, in an email to Cybercast News Service, Hooper denied having worked with IAP.

Spencer further noted that CAIR had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror-funding case involving Hamas. He also quoted Steve Emerson, a counter-terrorism expert, who has described CAIR as "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."

The federal prosecution document identifies CAIR as being a past or present member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian Committee, Spencer said. He also reminded audience members that the Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Hamas and is also closely linked to al-Qaeda.

CAIR's support for an Islamic charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) has been charged with funneling money to Hamas, Spencer said.

The federal prosecution of CAIR in the HLF case is ongoing. In recent testimony, an FBI agent said HLF leaders met at a Philadelphia hotel room in 1993 where they were overheard plotting against a Middle East peace accord.

CAIR claims the payment to HLF was made "at a time when there was no public concern raised" about the charity. Moreover, the connection critics see between CAIR and Hamas derive from accusations that lack a proper "historical and political context," reads the CAIR document.

For example, critics point out that Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director, expressed support for Hamas at Barry University in Florida in 1994. But the public is being misled here because Awad made this statement before CAIR was formed and before Hamas was identified as a terrorist organization, according to the group's communication officials.

"The disinformation about CAIR is the moral equivalent of saying that any past political support for Sinn Fein, a legal political movement established in 1905 dedicated to removing British forces from Northern Ireland, makes one complicit in the future terrorist actions of the Irish Republican Army...It would be ridiculous to accuse someone of terrorist sympathy because they may have shared the political views of Sinn Fein prior to the IRA's terrorist activities," CAIR contends.

At the end of his YAF speech last week, Spencer challenged CAIR officials and CAIR lawyers "to set aside the weapons of legal threats and intimidation, and the reckless purveying of personal smears and defamation, and enter into a genuine discussion."

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