Dear Mr. Shulman:
I write in regard to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) recent decision to terminate the tax-exempt status of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). I have long been concerned that CAIR may be in violation of federal tax law and applaud the agency for pursuing this matter and acting decisively.
It is my understanding that CAIR repeatedly failed to file its annual disclosure report, Form 990, for at least the last three years. Compliance with this law is the only assurance the public has that an organization claiming tax-exempt status is not abusing this privilege. Given CAIR’s status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case, this failure to comply with federal disclosure laws is all the more troubling.
In light of CAIR’s flaunting of tax rules regarding Form 990, I also wanted to share the enclosed copy of a recently disclosed letter from CAIR executive director Nihad Awad to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in which he appears to solicit money for a CAIR project. Specifically, Awad detailed an effort to set up the “Muslim Peace Foundation,” discusses the need to raise $15 million and thanks Gaddafi for his “generous support.”
Long before Gaddafi’s brutal and murderous assault on his own people, which has dominated the news in recent months, his deplorable human rights record was well-known. Gaddafi also has a long history of supporting international terrorist attacks. Earlier this year, former Libyan justice minister officially confirmed that Gaddafi personally ordered the terrorist attack on Pan Am flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 innocent victims.
It was to this same Gaddafi that Awad wrote, “I am pleased to send Your Excellency in my name the most solemn assurances of thanks and appreciation for the efforts you exert in the service of Islam, Muslims and all mankind through your initiative to teach Islam, spread the culture of Islam, and solve disputes, for which you are known internationally.”
I am concerned that Awad and CAIR may be soliciting — and receiving — funds from other unsavory foreign governments and organizations, including some that may be sponsors of terror. Additional information has come to my attention that Awad and other CAIR representatives may have traveled to Sudan to solicit funds from Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir, an internationally indicted war criminal. Are you aware of these reports?
Today in Sudan we see unfolding before us what can only be described as a recurring nightmare — a genocidal government hell-bent on maintaining its grip on power, treating civilian populations as mere collateral damage. Recently I met with a young former intern in my office who has been living in Sudan for the last two years and engaged in humanitarian and development work. He was back in the U.S. briefly but remains in close contact with folks in Sudan, including in areas that are presently cut off from the rest of the world. What he described is bone-chilling –door-to-door targeted killings of southern Sudanese supporters, mass graves, and Antanov bombers indiscriminately shelling civilian populations. In short, Bashir’s assault on southern Sudan is an emerging tragedy of the highest order, unfolding before our eyes. I have enclosed graphic photos of some of these atrocities.
A June 20 New York Times article confirmed many of these reports: “Over the last two weeks, northern Sudanese forces have led an unbridled assault in the volatile Nuba Mountains region of southern Kordofan. Witnesses describe execution-style killings of ethnic Nubans. In surrounding areas, the Sudanese government has acknowledged carrying out an aerial bombardment, forcing tens of thousands to flee.”
For these reasons, I request that the IRS investigate whether Awad and CAIR may have violated U.S. law in soliciting or accepting money from foreign governments or agents during the period that CAIR failed to file Form 990. I look forward to a full report on your findings.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress