The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, says its aim is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
Maybe so, but federal prosecutors have also named the group an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a plot to fund the terrorist group Hamas, several of CAIR’s leaders have been convicted on terror charges since 9/11, and one of its founders has reportedly declared that America should be governed by Islamic sharia law.
Adding to the controversy over the high-profile lobby group, CAIR is now being sued by radio talk show host Michael Savage over CAIR’s attacks on him and what he says constitute illegal use of his broadcasts.
The lawsuit alleges CAIR is a “political vehicle of international terrorism” that seeks to do “material harm to those voices who speak against the violent agenda of CAIR’s clients.” Filed in U.S. District Court in California, the suit seeks damages equal to the ongoing donations from CAIR supporters “who expect CAIR to act in this manner in exchange for continuing financial support” as well as “actual damages according to proof.”
The focal point of the lawsuit is a series of audio clips CAIR has been using in its promotions and fundraisings.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, told WND the group would not comment on the action until the document had been reviewed.
Although the news media generally have portrayed CAIR as a legitimate civil rights group, the organization has had a hard time maintaining its squeaky clean image.
FBI agents arrest CAIR Texas founder Ghassan Elashi and brothers in 2002.
For instance, as WND has reported, Ghassan Elashi, a board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted in 2005 of channeling funds to a high-ranking official of Hamas – which the U.S. government officially designates a terrorist organization.
As WND reported in October 2006, Elashi was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for financial ties to a high-ranking Hamas terrorist and for making illegal computer exports to countries that back terrorism.
Other CAIR figures convicted since 9-11 are Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, a former communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, and Bassem Khafagi, former director of community relations.
Royer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges he trained in Virginia for holy war against the United States and sent several members to Pakistan to join Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri terrorist group with reported ties to al-Qaida.
In a plea bargain, Royer claimed he never intended to hurt anyone but admitted he organized the holy warriors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
After his arrest, Royer sought legal counsel from Hamas lawyer Stanley Cohen, who said after 9-11 he would consider serving as a defense lawyer for Osama bin Laden if the al-Qaida leader were captured.
Khafagi was arrested in January 2003 while serving with CAIR and convicted on fraud and terrorism charges.
Current CAIR leaders also have made statements in support of Hamas and the domination of the U.S. by Islam.
As WorldNetDaily reported, CAIR’s chairman of the board, Omar Ahmad, was cited by a California newspaper in 1998 declaring the Quran should be America’s highest authority.
He also was reported to have said Islam is not in America to be equal to any other religion but to be dominant.
Just this past June, CAIR itself was named, along with two other prominent U.S. Islamic groups, as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a plot to fund Hamas. Federal prosecutors also cited the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust as participants in a plot with five officials of the defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
CAIR is a spinoff of the defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, launched by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and former university professor Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Last March, the House Republican Conference urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cancel an event hosted on Capitol Hill by CAIR, calling the group “terrorist apologists.”
And the group’s regular meetings with the Justice Department and FBI have prompted complaints from case agents, who say the bureau rarely can make a move in the Muslim community without first consulting with CAIR, which sits on its advisory board.
CAIR has even conducted “sensitivity” and cultural training with federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and with the military. In June of last year, a senior Department of Homeland Security official from Washington guided CAIR officials on a behind-the-scenes tour of Customs screening operations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in response to CAIR complaints that Muslim travelers were being unfairly delayed as they entered the U.S. from abroad.
Last year, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., withdrew an award she gave to a local CAIR official, saying she was concerned about some statements by CAIR leaders.
Savage’s lawsuit follows a CAIR campaign to influence advertisers to abandon the popular talker’s program. CAIR’s recent announcement said OfficeMax, a leading office products retailer, had joined “a growing list of companies” withdrawing advertising from Savage’s program because of his opinions regarding Islam.
That prompted the group ACT for America to launch an alert suggesting people call OfficeMax to encourage the company to reverse its decision.
“Call the OfficeMax office headquarters … and when you get an operator, in a polite but firm manner, tell the operator you have heard about the company’s decision to stop advertising on the Michael Savage program because of the pressure from CAIR. Tell them you will no longer shop at OfficeMax until OfficeMax reverses this ill-advised decision,” the advisory said.
“If CAIR can succeed in this effort to silence Michael Savage, consider the chilling effect this will have on every talk radio host in America,” wrote American Congress for Truth founder Brigitte Gabriel in the alert.
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