The Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR)'s financing over the years challenges its self-description as a benevolent group out to protect the civil rights of the Muslim community in the United States.
The clichéd admonition to "follow the money" gives a clear picture of the group's actual role as an enabler for organizations linked by the U.S. government to Islamic terrorism, prominently including the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
Indeed it shows a two-way flow of support both to and from HLF, which since has been named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization and indicted on charges of providing material support to Hamas. Our examination of CAIR focuses today on its finances.
· HLF made a $5,000 donation to the then-newly formed CAIR as early as 1994. Apparently sensitive to the impact public disclosure of their group's funding by HLF could have, CAIR's leaders repeatedly denied any such connection.
Asked during a 2003 civil deposition, "Did they [HLF] give you any money to help start CAIR?" Omar Ahmed, one of its incorporators, flatly responded, "No." CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad echoed that position in testimony prepared for a September 10, 2003 Senate hearing, declaring, "Our organization did not receive any seed money from HLFRD."
After IPT produced a copy of HLF's $5,000 check at the hearing, however, Awad acknowledged in supplemental testimony that CAIR had, indeed, received money from the group. Explaining, "CAIR is a nonprofit, grassroots organization. Our only source of income is through donations and the amount in question was a donation like any other," he added in mitigation that the "relatively small donation" had come seven years before the Justice Department froze HLF's assets.
· CAIR, in turn, repeatedly co-sponsored fundraisers for the Hamas-linked organization. Such funding appeals were made in 1999, ostensibly to help refugees forced to flee Kosovo, and again in 2000, at a time when the U.S. Agency for International Development already had announced plans to terminate HLF's USAID registration on grounds that it was "contrary to the national defense and foreign policy interest of the United States."
But those appeals were trumped by a further solicitation soon after the murderous attacks of 9/11. CAIR's website, advising readers "what you can do for the victims of the WTC (World Trade Center) and Pentagon attacks," urged them to donate to charities that included HLF.
· CAIR claims it does not receive funding from Saudi Arabia and other foreign sources. In a November 2001 press release, the group stated, "We do not support directly or indirectly, or receive support from, any overseas group or government."
Yet the records tell a different story. To cite a few examples:
· A Saudi embassy press release issued in August 1999 reported that the Islamic Development Bank, a Saudi-based entity, donated "$250,000 as a contribution to the purchase of land in Washington D.C. to be the headquarters for an education and research center under the aegis of the Council for American Islamic Relations."
· In an article headlined, "US Muslims Split Over Saudi Donations," the Associated Press reported that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal had given CAIR $500,000.
· CAIR has received significant financial support from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi-supported group that publishes materials promoting religious hatred -- for example, advising Muslims to "teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors…and make jihad for the sake of Allah." In December 1999, WAMY announced at a Riyadh press conference -- attended by Awad -- that it "was extending both moral and financial support to CAIR in its effort to construct a $3.5 million headquarters in Washington, D.C."
· Again, in November 2002, The Muslim World reported that CAIR and WAMY would cooperate on a million dollar public relations campaign and that Awad was scheduled to meet with Prince Walled Ibn Talal.
· CAIR has received repeated donations from the International Relief Organization (IRO), the American branch of the Saudi-funded International Islamic Relief Organization. IRO's Virginia offices were raided by the FBI in 1997 as part of a money laundering and terrorism investigation, and again in 2002 by Operation Greenquest, a federal task force targeting the financiers of Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.
Between 2000 and 2003, CAIR received $19,500 from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Significant financial, ideological and personal connections exist between IIIT and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), which the U.S. government has identified as a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
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A bad day for CAIR
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