After negative press forced the removal of a poster urging Muslims to “build a wall of resistance” against the FBI, the Council on American-Islamic Relations insisted it has consistently maintained a policy of cooperation with federal authorities investigating terrorism in the Muslim community. Accounts by law enforcement officials and recently obtained documents cast doubt on the claim, however.
CAIR’s poster, which was posted on the national group’s San Francisco chapter website, advises Muslims: “Don’t talk to the FBI.”
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper maintained the poster, which pictured row houses with doors slamming on a sinister-looking FBI agent, was misinterpreted.
“We have a consistent policy of positive and constructive engagement with law enforcement officials,” Hooper told Fox News.
In fact, CAIR has a long history of hostility toward law enforcement, officials say. And Congress plans to hold hearings next month on what authorities say is an increasing lack of cooperation by Muslim groups and leaders.
The FBI severed ties with CAIR in 2008 after the U.S. Justice Department named the Washington-based group as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal scheme led by the Holy Land Foundation to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas suicide bombers and their families.
“Until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner,” advised assistant FBI Director Richard Powers in a 2009 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The FBI has suspended all formal outreach activities with CAIR.”
Years before the ban, CAIR officials coached Muslim terrorism suspects and witnesses to mislead investigators and obstruct their terrorism investigations.
Evidence is contained in a six-page confidential report generated by a senior CAIR official, who on the third anniversary of 9/11 helped a prominent Muslim figure under FBI inquiry to obstruct a line of questioning by agents. The document was first disclosed in the bestselling book, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which exposes CAIR and other radical Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America.
In September 2004, a pair of agents arranged an interview with the Muslim leader of a Maryland mosque that the FBI was investigating for suspicious activity. The mosque leader alerted CAIR, and CAIR sent Shama Farooq, then-civil-rights director for its Maryland chapter, to coach him through the interview.
Farooq wrote a detailed plan covering what Dr. Sayeed Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Western Maryland, should and shouldn’t say. The predominantly Pakistani mosque is controlled by the Islamic Society of North America, recently named an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator by the federal government.
“Oftentimes, these meetings are used to get information about other community members,” she warned in the plan she devised. “It is important, first of all, not to talk about anyone else at all.” (Emphasis in the original.)
‘Do not address questions related to terrorism’
Also, “If the agent wants contact information for anyone else, you should not give any numbers or addresses out – let him find the people the same (way) he found you,” she advised. (Emphasis in original.)
Farooq also insisted Ahmed turn his cell phone off, and keep it out of the sight and reach of the agents during the interview.
Finally, she advised, “You are not required to tell them which Islamic centers you attend, how many times a day you pray, who you give charity to, and which organizations you are associated with.”
“Definitely,” she stressed, “do not address any questions relating to terrorism or violence and their place in Islam.”
Then Farooq and Ahmed went to lunch the day of the scheduled interview with the FBI – Sept. 1, 2004 – to review her ground rules, the CAIR report details. They agreed she would sit in on the meeting.
Following lunch, they went back to his office and continued to “discuss strategies,” including introducing her to the agents only as “a sister in Islam,” while not identifying her position with CAIR up front. And she again specifically advised Ahmed not to answer any questions regarding information he may know about terrorism or violence.
The agents arrived at Ahmed’s office on time, and over the course of their interview, Farooq stepped in to stop Ahmed from answering several questions she felt could “incriminate” him, even though she was not his attorney.
As a result, Ahmed withheld critical information from the FBI. For example:
- agents inquired about his recent travels abroad, and he mentioned only Canada, while neglecting to inform them that he’s also traveled to Saudi Arabia
- agents asked him about his charitable donations, and he withheld the fact that his wife had given cash to the Holy Land Foundation, which he knew at the time was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.;
- agents inquired what he knew about the Islamic Center of Morgantown, W.Va., and he failed to tell them that one of his sons is a vice president there who’s contributed more than $10,000 to its coffers.
The FBI agents, who were attached to the bureau’s Pittsburgh field office and led by agent Terry Grzadzielewski, left the meeting unaware they were denied information relevant to their investigation – thanks to CAIR’s operative running interference on behalf of the subject of their inquiry that day.
Farooq reported details of the FBI meeting, including Ahmed’s omissions, to CAIR-Maryland/Virginia chapter executive director Rizwan Mowlana, who had assigned her to spy on the FBI.
At the end of her report, Farooq recommended CAIR gather local Muslims who worship at Ahmed’s mosque in Hagerstown, Md., to formally train them in similar deception and obstruction tactics.
“Since the Hagerstown community seems to be a center of attention for several FBI agents,” she wrote, “I recommend CAIR conduct a know-your-rights lecture at the location with some recommendations (on) how to respond to FBI agents when approached by them.”
Also in 2004, the FBI raided an Islamic “cultural center” in a northern Virginia suburb on suspicions of terrorist activity. But before agents executed the search warrant, the FBI, as a courtesy, informed CAIR that the raid was going to take place, so that CAIR officials could be on site to monitor the conduct and sensitivity of agents.
By the time agents showed up at the Saudi-controlled Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America in Merrifield, Va., the building was practically an “empty box,” as one investigator described it in “Muslim Mafia.”
‘They were warned by CAIR that we were coming’
“By the time we went in, the place was sterile. They’d cleaned it out,” said the senior investigator, who works with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington. “It was bad. It was really bad.”
“They were warned by CAIR that we were coming to do a search warrant,” explained the law enforcement official, who helped execute the search warrant. “We were pissed. It was obvious to us they knew we were coming.”
Who got the courtesy call from the FBI that morning? The same CAIR official cited earlier – CAIR-MD/VA executive director Rizwan Mowlana – who’d assigned the “sister in Islam” to coach the Maryland mosque president and help obstruct the FBI’s questioning of him.
CAIR refused requests for comment.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., says such obstructionist practices will be a focus of next month’s hearings into the rising tempo of Muslim radicalization and homegrown terrorism in America.
“We get very little cooperation from people living within the Muslim community,” King said in a recent interview, adding that “the leadership of the Muslim community” is telling individuals not to cooperate with terrorism investigations.
“The fact is,” King continued, “the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.”
The lawmaker says he routinely hears from law enforcement about the lack of cooperation.
“When I’m talking with police officers, talking to federal law enforcement authorities, and when I raise the raise the question of Muslim cooperation, they look at me, like, of course not,” King said earlier this month on Secure Freedom Radio. “There’s no cooperation.”