Is repeatedly badmouthing the United States and fabricating an environment of a war against Muslims by the U.S. government a qualification for being sent on overseas travel at the taxpayers’ expense?

The State Department and a U.S. university seem to think so.

Consider the case of Christina Abraham, Civil Rights Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter. It is an affiliate of the national CAIR group that was described by an FBI agent in trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development as a front for Hamas. CAIR had also been declared an unindicted co-conspirator in that same trial, that resulted in sweeping terrorist convictions for all defendants last year. For the past 14 years, CAIR has defended Islamic terrorism, sponsored anti-Semitic conferences and has consistently attacked nearly all U.S. prosecutions of Islamic terrorists and asset forfeitures of Islamic terrorist charitable front groups as racist. Late last year, the FBI severed its relationship with CAIR because of its ties to Hamas.

In early 2008, CAIR’s Abraham participated in a program on “Building the National Identity and Civic Participation in the Philippines” conducted at Northern Illinois University (NIU) -- an event funded by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizen Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She served as what the program’s training manual described as a “resource person” who “provided…materials for the program,” which ran from May 31 to June 28 under the auspices of NIU’s International Training Office & Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

But that wasn’t the end of Abraham’s involvement in the government-funded program. This past January -- again with the State Department picking up the tab -- she traveled to the Philippines to join in a follow-on week-long seminar at the Vistamar Resort in Mactan, Cebu.

CAIR was so proud that it issued a press release on February 11, 2009 entitled “Civil Rights Director Participates in State Dept. Delegation to Philippines.”[1] CAIR-Chicago reported that Abraham “headed to the Philippines this January as a part of a delegation to the International Visitor’s [sic] Program (IVP) Conference in Cebu, Philippines.” From January 2-13, the release reported, she gave presentations “on civil rights workshops based upon CAIR-Chicago’s work for victims of discrimination.” And the reported noted: “Each of the U.S. delegates was chosen for their respective expertise in methods for constructive civic engagement.”

What was Abraham’s special expertise in “civil rights discrimination” and “constructive civic engagement” that merited her to be selected as an emissary of the United States to underdeveloped nations? Curiously, her record in the United States and that of her employer, CAIR, shows that she and CAIR have publicly issued fabricated allegations against the United States for its supposed massive and rampant racism against the majority of U.S. Muslims.

These false attacks were part of a much larger and strategic campaign by CAIR since its 1994 inception to paint a false portrait of massive racism against Muslims in the U.S. for their political beliefs. This campaign continues unabated, even though FBI hate crime figures unambiguously disprove the allegations, because it builds up CAIR’s reputation as a “civil rights” group and masks its true purpose as a front for Hamas. Hate crimes against Muslims as recorded by FBI statistics during the decade 1996 thru 2006 have been generally at most 15% of the number of hate crimes recorded against Jews, yet an ongoing examination by the Investigative Project on Terrorism of mainstream media coverage of CAIR shows that CAIR has managed in some years to get up to 500 hundred percent more media coverage of its hate crimes—of which some have been fabricated—than hate crimes against Jews.

Evidence from the terror-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) clearly establishes that CAIR’s birth was part of a secret Hamas-support network in the U.S. The FBI’s case agent said as much on the stand.[2] And internal documents show CAIR founders Nihad Awad were listed in a telephone book for this “Palestine Committee” created by the Muslim Brotherhood to help Hamas.[3] And both men participated in a secret 1993 meeting of Hamas supporters in Philadelphia, which included discussions of creating a new political entity to advance the group’s cause without being overtly identified as part of the Islamist agenda.[4]

Last November, jurors convicted the HLF defendants on all 108 counts.[5]

“Muslims in America worry every day about being singled out because of their religion,” Abraham wrote in a January 2007 article entitled, “The Malicious Prosecution of Muslims,” published by CAIR-Chicago. “They fear that their religious ties will make them targets of law enforcement, employers, colleagues, or hate-filled criminals.” [6] If that fear that Abraham claims “Muslims in America” worry about has any validity, it is a diabolical product of CAIR’s incessant (and demonstrably false) claims that a Muslim’s religion is the criteria by which they become targets of law enforcement and the demonstrably false assertion that nearly all U.S. counter-terrorist prosecutions and investigations are politically or religiously motivated.

In that same article, Abraham contends that Muslims are targeted simply because they are Muslims:

“One phenomenon recently observed by CAIR-Chicago is the malicious prosecution of Muslims. It begins when federal law enforcement investigates a Muslim for purported ties to terrorism. Then, when nothing can be found against them, other unrelated charges are brought.”

Her statement makes it seem as if the U.S. government randomly selects any Muslim it can find to prosecute for terrorism without any evidence at hand. This is flatly disproven by the successful prosecution of Islamic terrorists found in the United States, and in Chicago itself, who were working for Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and assorted other Islamic terrorist groups. Not only does her statement belittle the significance of Islamic terrorism in the United States—largely because CAIR does not believe that “Islamic terrorism” exists -- it also fosters an environment of paranoia and rage among those in the American Muslim community who may actually believe the incendiary conspiracy she draws.

In November 2007 she deemed the sentencing of Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Hamas activist who was convicted on charges related to his involvement with Hamas to be “apparently politically-motivated,” and said it “sends the unfortunate message that when American Muslims are involved, a jury's decision may be ignored.”[7] In fact, a jury did convict Ashqar of obstruction of justice and criminal contempt of court after refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Hamas support in the U.S. The allegation that the charges against Ashqar were “politically motivated” shows that CAIR does not believe Hamas is a terrorist group, a fact supported over and over again by CAIR’s refusal to condemn Hamas as a terrorist group when asked by reporters.

A 2007 article that Abraham co-authored with CAIR-Chicago staff attorney Heena Musabji, published in the DePaul Journal for Social Justice, paints a broader picture of supposed civil rights abuses in the United States posing a threat not just to Muslims but to all Americans: “The current post-9/11 climate in the United States today is one in which many openly advocate for racial profiling, despite its repugnance to the Constitution,” the piece asserts. “Moreover, the provisions of the PATRIOT Act, policies of the Bureau of Prisons and the Military Commissions Act have all contributed to the erosion of civil liberties in the United States - the effects of which will not solely be felt by Muslims in America.”[8] If there has been profiling concerning terrorism in America, it is due to the fact that we are at war with radical Islamists in Al Qaeda who declared war on America more than a decade ago and have successfully attacked us, and also due to the many other plots by radical Muslims that since that time have been successfully stopped. In the travel industry, the Transportation Safety Administration has spent billions of dollars to ensure all passengers are screened in the same manner—to avoid profiling. That is why 80 year Swedish grandmothers in wheelchairs undergo the same inspection as a Saudi graduate student studying in Texas.

The article’s conclusion repeats this theme: “Religious discrimination against Muslims in the post-9/11 era has taken on many forms. As has been illustrated here, such discrimination has manifested in restricting the Muslims right to travel, restricting the rights of inmates and denying due process rights to the accused.” [9] I think it is a fair argument to maintain that in the aftermath of 9-11, there were several cases of Muslims under suspicion of terrorist involvement who were incarcerated and moved around for a period of months that effectively denied them due process. US Government prosecutors and law enforcement officials, responsible for protecting the homeland, however vigorously dispute that charge. But to jump from that episode—during a period when no one knew when the next attack would take place -- to the wild generalization that Muslims are restricted in the right to travel speaks again to the “anti-Muslim” hysteria that CAIR is trying to create in the minds of American Muslims. At the same time this campaign seeks to alienate American Muslims, it aims to convince the American public that anti-Muslim discrimination is so rampant that law enforcement should be dissuaded from carrying out justice and pursuing Islamic terrorists.

CAIR’s original press release did not specify what activist groups Abraham met with on her visit to the Philippines. It did note that “Abraham also met with Muslim activists from the southern Philippines” -- activists “who work primarily in Mindanao, where discrimination against Muslims by the government, poverty and access to education are major concerns.”

“The Mindanao activists have established cooperative projects, created home and community building projects, sent impoverished children to school and worked on a peace and conflict resolution. Abraham discussed several ways that United States-based organizations could potentially help their case,” the release continued.

Mindanao is home to more than 80 percent of the estimated five million Muslims living in the Philippines. Recent years have seen fierce fighting in the region between the Philippine government and a Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Some 81 percent of the 88.5 million Filipinos nationwide are Catholics, according to the country’s 2007 census.

Despite Abraham’s allegations, her deprecation of the American justice system as intrinsically hostile and unfair to Muslims, and her and CAIR’s routine public demonization of the United States, she—an official of a group linked to Hamas-- was sent to the Philippines to meet with Muslim activists. Who knows what she said to those Muslim activists?

Given her and her organization’s documented record of unfounded allegations of a U.S. conspiracy against Muslims and belief that the American judicial system is corrupt, why would Abraham have been considered at all to be a member of this delegation? Where was the university’s due diligence? Why did the State Department rubber-stamp the selection of all members on this delegation without doing its own due diligence? The answer is rather depressing. State Department records obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism show that during the past decade, CAIR repeatedly has been selected to officially receive foreign delegations—including foreign Muslims leaders and western law enforcement officials-- visiting the U.S. as part of the State Department visitors exchange program. In addition, the State Department and other US agencies have subsidized CAIR officials and other Islamists on official U.S. Government trips, thanks to the largesse of the US taxpayer.

Since returning, Abraham continues spreading CAIR’s allegation of a U.S. war against Islam. At CAIR-Chicago’s 5th Annual Banquet held in early March 2009, Abraham repeated the same conspiratorial mantra in her talk to the hundreds of guests in the audience: “… throughout the past eight years we have experienced discrimination, demonization, and the degradation of our community at the hands of the intolerant, the greedy and the unjust.”

And President Obama wonders why the Muslim world hates us?

Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) and the author or co-author of 6 books on the terrorism and the Middle East.


[1] http://www.cairchicago.org/ournews.php?file=on_ca_philippines02112009

[2] Testimony of Lara Burns, US v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. (TXND 3:04-cr-00240) October 7, 2008.

[3] US v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. (TXND 3:04-cr-00240), Government Exhibit “Ashqar Search 1,” September 25, 2008.

[4] US v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. (TXND 3:04-cr-00240). Government Exhibit “Philly Meeting 5,” September 29, 2008.

[5] US v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. (TXND 3:04-cr-00240), Verdict, November 24, 2008.

[6] Christina Abraham, "The Malicious Prosecution of Muslims," CAIR-Chicago, January 23, 2007,

http://www.cairchicago.org/newsletter/issue51.html

[7] “CAIR-Chicago Dismayed by ‘Excessive’ Ashqar Sentence” CAIR, November 21, 2007, http://www.cair.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?mid1=777&&ArticleID=23816&&name=n&&currPage=2.

[8] Christina Abraham and Heena Musabji, “The Threat to Civil Liberties in America and its Effect on Muslims in America,” DePaul Journal for Social Justice, Vol.1,No.1, Fall 2007,

[9] Christina Abraham and Heena Musabji, “The Threat to Civil Liberties in America and its Effect on Muslims in America,” DePaul Journal for Social Justice, Vol.1,No.1, Fall 2007, http://www.cairchicago.org/pdf/civil_liberties_djsj.pdf.

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