Robert Spencer: Hamas-linked CAIR: A Terror Organization

The United Arab Emirates last week approved a list of 86 “designated terrorist organisations and groups, including the usual suspects – the UAE Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State – along with two surprises, both with ties to Hamas: the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

This surprising listing probably stemmed from both groups’ links to the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan doesn’t want to find himself overthrown by Islamic hardliners, and replaced by a Sharia government.

When the story first broke, I wrote at my website Jihad Watch: “If this is authentic, no doubt Hamas-linked CAIR’s Nihad Awad and Ibrahim ‘Honest Ibe’ Hooper are furiously working the phones today, calling on all their contacts in the U.S. government and elsewhere to get this reversed. What fun it would be to be a fly on the wall in Honest Ibe’s sumptuously appointed office today. Will the Obama administration’s Justice Department now denounce the UAE for ‘Islamophobia’?”

Close. It wasn’t Justice, it was State. U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Monday that the Obama Administration was “aware that two U.S.-based groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, were included on the list.” Rathke said that the government was “seeking to gain more information on why, and “engaging UAE authorities” in order to do so.

A reporter then asked Rathke: “The State Department works…with CAIR all the time, no? I mean, there’s all sorts of outreach programs between the government and CAIR, right?”

Rathke seemed taken aback by the question: “I don’t know offhand whether we have a particular…I don’t have that information at my fingertips. But at any rate, we’re engaging UAE officials. These are U.S.-based groups so of course our – we are not in the lead then for domestically-based groups generally.”

It’s perfectly clear why CAIR and MAS were listed as terror organizations: because of their links to the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Obama Administration cannot accept that, as it has itself done so much to aid the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. Hence their inquiries to Emirati officials, which are a fresh indication of the unwholesome influence these groups wield in Washington. But the UAE has the right idea, even if it reverses itself under pressure from State — and we can only hope for a restoration of sanity in Washington that will end these groups’ influence before they do more damage.

CAIR is not a terrorist organization, if one considers violent acts an essential part of what defines terrorism: it doesn’t blow things up or exhort others to do so. It is, however, an Islamic supremacist organization with the same goals as those of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: the imposition of Islamic law wherever and whenever possible. And while CAIR is quite mainstream these days, this self-styled “civil rights group” was actually named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements. Its California chapter distributed a poster telling Muslims not to talk to the FBI. CAIR has opposed every anti-terror measure that has ever been proposed or implemented.

CAIR’s dark side has been well known for years. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) said that CAIR is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect.” Another United States Senator said of CAIR that “we know it has ties to terrorism,” and “intimate links with Hamas.” Those were the words of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and they have been proven correct.

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has said: “Time and again the organization has shown itself to be nothing more than an apologist for groups bent on the destruction of Israel and Islamic domination over the West.”



In June 2007, Federal prosecutors named CAIR as a participant in what the New York Sun called “an alleged criminal conspiracy to support a Palestinian Arab terrorist group, Hamas.” This was when CAIR was first designated an unindicted co-conspirator for its support for the Holy Land Foundation. The federal prosecution document described CAIR as a present or past member of “the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.” The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

CAIR was founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad. Awad had been the President of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), and Ahmad its Public Relations Director. The IAP, which was shut down by the government in 2005 for funding terrorism, was founded in 1981 by a Hamas operative, Mousa Abu Marzook. Marzook currently heads Hamas’s “political bureau,” and is engaged in negotiations with Fatah in hopes of forming a Palestinian unity government. In the course of these negotiations, Hamas reaffirmed its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist – which is tantamount to vowing its total destruction.

According to a report dated August 14, 2001, from the Immigration and Naturalization Services, the IAP was dedicated to “publishing and distributing HAMAS communiqués printed on IAP letterhead, as well as other written documentation to include the HAMAS charter and glory records, which are tributes to HAMAS’ violent ‘successes.’“ The same report also stated that IAP had received “approximately $490,000 from [Mousa Abu] Marzook during the period in which Marzook held his admitted role as a HAMAS leader.”

Randall Todd (“Ismail”) Royer was CAIR’s communications specialist and civil rights coordinator. He was part of the “Virginia jihad group,” which was indicted on forty-one counts of “conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas.” They were accused of association with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a jihad terrorist group.

Matthew Epstein of the Investigative Project has said that Royer helped recruit the other member of the group to the jihad while he was working for CAIR.

Royer was also among those charged in a separate indictment saying that they conspired to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban fight against American troops in Afghanistan. And Royer admitted to a grand jury that he had already waged jihad warfare in Bosnia – with and that his commander took orders from Osama bin Laden.

According to Daniel Pipes, “Royer eventually pleaded guilty to lesser firearms-related charges, and the former CAIR staffer was sentenced to twenty years in prison.”

Then there was Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter. He was charged in July 2004 with giving Hamas more than 12 million dollars while he was running the Holy Land Foundation. Elashi was convicted in November 2008 of providing material support to terrorism in connection with his role in the HLF. Earlier, Elashi was convicted in July 2004 of illegally shipping computers to two state-sponsors of terrorism, Libya and Syria. Then he was convicted in April 2005 of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, the senior Hamas leader who founded the IAP. Elashi was found guilty of conspiracy, money laundering, and dealing in the property of a designated terrorist.

Bassem Khafagi was CAIR’s community relations director. He pled guilty in September 2003 to lying on his visa application and passing bad checks, and he was deported. Before he worked for CAIR, he was president of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) — which is under investigation by the Justice Department for terrorism-related activities. According to court documents, the IANA was devoted to spreading “radical Islamic ideology, the purpose of which was indoctrination, recruitment of members, and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism.”

Rabih Haddad was a CAIR fundraiser who was arrested in December 2001 and deported. Again the charges were terror-related.

Maybe all these people had jihadist sentiments either before or after working for CAIR, but were completely moderate while working for it. Maybe. But this is just part of the picture. CAIR is, evidently, a moderate group has several onetime employees arrested on terror charges. It is a moderate group came out of another group that has been identified as the “primary voice in the U.S.” of a terror group. A moderate group that traffics in legal threats and intimidation against those of which it disapproves.

A moderate group?

No, the UAE was right: it’s a terrorist organization.