To what lengths would America's leaders go to protect a group that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) deemed a terrorist organization?
A bombshell new report from the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reveals the alarming answer.
It involves a man who in his almost 50 years of public life has done more for America's enemies -- first of the Communist variety and later of the jihadist brand -- than perhaps any other: Iran lobbyist-in-chief John Kerry.
In the most recent case, he did so in secret, apparently well aware of the political consequences of exposing the potentially catastrophic policy he was pursuing to the light of day.
As IPT's report details, Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) were classified as terrorist groups by the UAE in 2014, as two of the 83 entities identified as such for their ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
(Image source: Courtesy of the Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Furious at such a charge, CAIR pushed Secretary of State Kerry to lobby on its behalf. Kerry's State Department reportedly complied, meeting with UAE officials regularly to plead CAIR's case.
State signaled such a stance publicly almost from day one. As IPT notes:
At a daily State Department press briefing two days after UAE released its list, a spokesman said that State does not "consider CAIR or MAS to be terrorist groups" but that it was seeking more information from UAE about their decision. He added that "as part of our routine engagement with a broad spectrum of faith based organizations, a range of U.S. government officials have met with officials of CAIR and MAS. We at the State Department regularly meet with a wide range of faith based groups to hear their views even if some of their views expressed at times are controversial."
"Controversial" is an interesting way of describing the views of a group that makes common cause with jihadists and jihadist sympathizers. There is an irony, as IPT recounts:
Just days before the UAE's 2014 designation of CAIR as a terrorist group in the organization's San Francisco chapter bestowed its "Promoting Justice" award to Sami Al-Arian and his family. Al-Arian secretly ran an American support network for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group in the late 1980s and early 1990s. PIJ was responsible for terrorist attacks which killed dozens of Israelis and several Americans.
CAIR's jihadi ties are numerous and longstanding, involving not only the links of its founders and present leaders to Hamas, and as critics say, apologists for Islamic terrorism, but also for impeding counterterrorism efforts. Lawyers in a class-action lawsuit representing the family of slain former FBI counterterrorism official John P. O'Neill -- who perished in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center -- named CAIR part of a criminal conspiracy to promote "radical Islamic terrorism," and declared that CAIR has
"actively sought to hamper governmental anti-terrorism efforts by direct propaganda activities aimed at police, first-responders, and intelligence agencies through so-called sensitivity training. Their goal is to create as much self-doubt, hesitation, fear of name-calling, and litigation within police departments and intelligence agencies as possible so as to render such authorities ineffective in pursuing international and domestic terrorist entities."
More directly, as jihad expert Daniel Pipes noted in a 2014 expose, "At least seven board members or staff at CAIR have been arrested, denied entry to the U.S., or were indicted on or pled guilty to (or were convicted of) terrorist charge."
Because of the litany of actions that CAIR has taken on behalf of and in association with Islamic supremacists -- as was unearthed during the Holy Land Foundation trial, which represented the largest terror financing case in U.S. history and in which CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator -- back in 2008 the FBI officially ceased contact with the group.
During the Obama years, however, groups like CAIR were embraced under the jihad-enabling "countering violent extremism" (CVE) paradigm. CVE outsourced "de-radicalization" efforts to "peaceful Islamist," Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups. CVE was the antithesis of the comprehensive counterjihadist program America required.
With respect to John Kerry's efforts on behalf of CAIR in particular, the story gets worse:
In December 2014, CAIR met with top officials of the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department, asking them to pressure the UAE to remove them from the list, according to reliable sources intimately familiar with the communications. On December 22, 2014, CAIR issued a press release asserting that "the two American Muslim organizations and the U.S. government pledged to work together to achieve a positive solution to the UAE designations."
In response to a letter sent by CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad sent to Secretary Kerry protesting the UAE designation, Kerry responded on May 5, 2015 in a letter to Awad stating, "Let me reiterate, first, that the U.S. government clearly does not consider CAIR to be a terrorist organization. As your letter noted, the Department of State rejected this allegation immediately after the UAE designations were announced in November, and we will continue to do so....U.S. officials have raised the issue of CAIR's inclusion on the UAE's terror list with UAE officials on multiple occasions..."
That portion of the letter now appears on CAIR's website. But at the time that the letter was sent to CAIR, according to knowledgeable sources, there was an agreement between CAIR and the State Department to keep the letter secret. An excerpt from it was posted on CAIR's website only in May 2016, a year after it was received. The IPT has learned that Kerry and CAIR made this agreement to keep the letter secret
...to protect Kerry from public embarrassment. In light of CAIR's numerous ties to Hamas and other unsavory aspects of its record, Kerry had good reason to believe that the letter could cause a public relations disaster for him.
Kerry's efforts proved unsuccessful; the UAE did not budge.
The lifelong leftist enabler of America's foes, whose public career commenced with propagandistic testimony to the U.S. Senate on the Vietnam War, redounding to the Communist's benefit, and closed with his support for Islamists including CAIR -- not to mention the mullahs in Iran -- never paid a price for such efforts.
Meanwhile, CAIR continues freely to operate in America. In the wee hours of election night 2016, in fact, its Los Angeles office leader called for the overthrow of the U.S. government.
The Trump administration has stated its commitment to "eradicating" Islamic supremacism, including challenging the Muslim Brotherhood itself, which represents the tip of the Sunni jihadist spear. This stance is reflected not only in policy speeches delivered during the presidential campaign, but in the testimony, past public remarks and actions of the principal members of President Trump's National Security Council.
The Muslim Brotherhood may very may very well come under scrutiny in the near-term, as will the efforts of those who oppose the group, as Senator Ted Cruz has re-upped a bill that calls upon the Secretary of State to submit a report on its designation as a foreign terrorist organization.
That bill's text provides helpful background on just why it is that the Muslim Brotherhood deserves such a classification, noting:
- The many countries that have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization or barred it from operating
- The explicit calls for violent jihad, with the end goal of imposing Islamic law over all the world of the group's founder and spiritual leader Hassan al-Banna, and the consistently violent Islamic supremacist content of the Brotherhood's core membership texts
- The terrorist efforts of numerous jihadist groups explicitly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the efforts of individual Muslim Brotherhood members designated as terrorists by the U.S. government themselves
- The litany of terrorist financing cases involving the Muslim Brotherhood, including the aforementioned Holy Land Foundation case, whereby:
Department of Justice officials successfully argued in court that the international Muslim Brotherhood and its United States affiliates had engaged in a widespread conspiracy to raise money and materially support the terrorist group Hamas. HLF officials charged in the case were found guilty on all counts in November 2008, primarily related to millions of dollars that had been transferred to Hamas. During the trial and in court documents, Federal prosecutors implicated a number of prominent United States-Islamic organizations in this conspiracy, including the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA], the North American Islamic Trust [NAIT], and the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR]. These groups and their leaders, among others, were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the case.
According to a July 2008 Justice Department court filing:
"The mandate of these organizations [ISNA, NAIT and CAIR], per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support HAMAS, and the HLF's particular role was to raise money to support HAMAS' organizations inside the Palestinian territories."
Should the Trump administration challenge the Muslim Brotherhood, it is reasonable to think that it may threaten its offshoots, one of which is the very Islamic organization in CAIR that the Obama administration specifically sought to protect.
Should CAIR come under fire, it is a safe bet that the Left will close ranks, arguing that conservatives are on a witch hunt akin to the Red Scare to snuff out peaceful Muslims in America.
Those who wish to triumph over the global jihad must challenge this narrative fearlessly.
The argument against CAIR and similar groups is simply this: If you aid, abet or enable to jihadists, you will be prosecuted, and swiftly. You are standing with those who wish to kill innocent Americans, and the government's first job is to protect the life and limb of its citizens.
Efforts to rid America of jihadists, shut down their funding networks and punish those who give them aid and comfort are about defending the homeland against a subversive ideology of conquest that seeks to undermine our Constitutional system and supplant it with a totalitarian one based in Islamic law, Sharia.
"Liberals" or "Progressives" might seek to use CAIR as a cudgel to argue that "conservatives" wish to trample on the rights of Muslims. The task of the rest of us will be to expose a supposed civil liberties group as a cleverly-designed front for a theocratic, political Islamic supremacist movement that seeks to overtake the civil liberties of all Americans.
That is all the more reason why it is important to bring it to light.