Anti-CAIR: Challenging Radical Islamism in America
by JINSA Editorial Assistant Gabriel Sassoon.
by JINSA Editorial Assistant Gabriel Sassoon.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has, since 1994, billed itself as a ‘grassroots civil rights and advocacy group’ that seeks to ‘put forth an Islamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented.’ It has forged relationships with a range of civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, NAACP, Hispanic Unity, Organization of Chinese Americans, among others. CAIR has purported to represent the Muslim community in the mainstream media, and it has also made some powerful connections to official Washington. Its stated platform seems, after all, innocuous enough. The reality is far more sinister.
Following September 11, Andrew Whitehead, a concerned American citizen who suspected that there was something more to CAIR than most people believed, began to investigate the organization, and quickly confirmed that it is not what it purports to be. In response, he established Anti-CAIR, a website that seeks to expose CAIR’s real agenda. (Whitehead’s project has been mostly self-funded and has accepted contributions from private donors.) While CAIR presents itself as a ‘grassroots’ Islamic advocacy group, Whitehead found that CAIR had grossly exaggerated the size of its membership (under 1,700 as of last year, down 90 percent since September 11, 2001), was funded by foreign sources including the government of the United Arab Emirates, supported Islamism and Islamist terror groups, and used legal ‘bully tactics’ to maintain its cover of legitimacy.
Whitehead and his attorney, Reed Rubinstein, spoke at JINSA’s Spring 2007 Board Meeting, May 3-4, about the true nature of CAIR and about the lawsuit CAIR launched in an attempt to muzzle Whitehead and Anti-CAIR. Rubinstein, of the Greenberg Traurig law firm, represented Whitehead pro bono. Whitehead pulled no punches when it came to describing CAIR’s deception. According to Whitehead, CAIR is ‘a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists.’ CAIR, Whitehead claimed, was founded by self-identified Hamas supporters who indicated in the past that they desire the overthrow of America’s constitutional government and that radical Islam becomes the dominant religion in the United States. While CAIR continues to have sustained links with Islamic terrorists, it has, perversely, retained credibility in the mainstream media as a supposedly legitimate representative of the American Muslim community.
Rubinstein praised Whitehead as a ‘real American hero’. He explained that CAIR’s mainstream credibility is built on its partnerships with legitimate organizations like the NAACP, ACLU, and Jewish groups, but that ultimately CAIR ‘fears the sunlight’. The media, evidently, has been soft on CAIR for fear of being seen as ‘anti-Muslim’ rather than simply ‘anti-Islamist’. But the truth, says Rubinstein, ‘will stop CAIR cold.’
In 2004, CAIR served up what had been a standard operating procedure when faced with vocal denunciations of their mission and associations: a ‘cease and desist’ letter, sent by the law firm retained by CAIR. When Whitehead and Anti-CAIR refused to take down the website, CAIR filed a lawsuit that claimed that the statements Anti-CAIR made about CAIR were ‘false and defamatory’.
Rubinstein spoke at some length about the charges Anti-CAIR had made against CAIR, explaining that CAIR had managed to silence criticism for years by threatening lawsuits just like the one they were pursuing against Anti-CAIR. Rubinstein said that by simply examining the foundational documents of an organization, as well as the statements of its leaders, much could be learned of the true nature of the organization. ‘People tend to mean what they say,’ he argued.
During the lawsuit, Anti-CAIR issued over 300 separate interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admission – all legal instruments intended to narrow the issues. In effect, Anti-CAIR had called CAIR’s bluff. CAIR amended its lawsuit and completely dropped its complaint against Whitehead’s accusation that its connections to Hamas and other terrorist groups constituted a ‘false and defamatory statement’.
After CAIR was forced to narrow the scope of their lawsuit, Anti-CAIR seemed poised for a decisive victory. The Anti-CAIR legal team had carefully documented the statements endorsing violent jihad and supportive of known terrorist groups made by CAIR’s leaders, employees and members. It had also exposed CAIR’s heavily foreign sources of funding – which included extensive funds from Arab state governments and terrorist ‘charity’ front groups like the Holy Land Foundation. Realizing that it no longer had grounds on which to sustain a ‘false and defamatory’ lawsuit, CAIR settled for an undisclosed sum.
CAIR’s membership has been in rapid decline over the last few years, as many of its leaders, employees and members have been jailed for bona fide connections with and funding of terrorist organizations. Andrew Whitehead added that, thanks to ‘groups like JINSA,’ the truth is finally coming out about CAIR.