Backgrounder: What Critics Say About CAIR [Excerpts]
Criticism leveled at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has focused primarily on its sources of funding and on terror-related convictions handed to some office-bearers in the organization.
The most controversial organization with a known affiliation to CAIR was the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, shut down in 2001 when the U.S. Treasury Department froze its assets after alleging it provided funding to Hamas.
Tax records reveal that some of the largest gifts to CAIR, a non-profit organization, have come from abroad.
According to published reports in the Arab press, CAIR began recruiting money in the Middle East in the summer of 2006 for a $50 million, five-year, public relations campaign in the United States, and met with Dubai businessmen in the United Arab Emirates.
Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project, a data-gathering center on Islamist groups, said the fact that CAIR has accepted so much foreign money should raise alarms.
"Who is pulling the strings?" Emerson asked Cybercast News Service.
"Should they register as a foreign agent?"
Emerson, a long-time CAIR critic, argued that the organization "should be forced to disclose how much money is coming from outside the country."
Lawmakers and others critical of CAIR have often pointed to the controversies surrounding some of the organization's office-bearers.
Among them, according to court records:
Randall Royer, a civil rights coordinator for CAIR, pleaded guilty in January 2004 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to possession of firearms and explosives after being indicted on terrorist conspiracy charges and helping four others gain entry to a terrorist training camp, and was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment;
Ghassan Elashi, founder of CAIR's Texas chapter, was reportedly convicted in July 2004 of sending computers to Libya and Syria and in April 2005 of doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook (a senior Hamas leader who has been on the U.S. government's list of "specially designated terrorists" since 1995 and remains on the most up-to-date list published last week.) Elashi is serving a six-year prison term and faces further charges;
Bassem Khafagi, a former CAIR community relations director who was born in Egypt, pleaded guilty in September 2003 to lying on his visa application and passing bad checks. He was deported; and
Rabih Haddad, a CAIR fundraiser, was arrested and deported for his work with the Global Relief Foundation, designated by the U.S. Treasury Department to be a sponsor of terrorism.
(Lucas, CNSNews, 01/16/07)