Once again, New York Times reporter Neil MacFarquhar is auditioning to be the chief public-relations mouthpiece for radical Islamic front groups in the United States.
In an article published Thursday, titled “Speakers at Academy Said to Make False Claims,” MacFarquhar writes:
The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.
The three men were invited as part of a week-long conference on terrorism organized by cadets at the academy’s Colorado Springs campus under the auspices of the political science department.
And just who are the “Muslim and religious freedom” groups that MacFarquhar cites? One outfit called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and none other than the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In fact, MacFarquhar twice in his article refers to “Muslim” and “Arab” organizations — in the plural — as objecting to the conference, but the only Muslim or Arab group he cites is CAIR, once again giving CAIR its desired, and undeserved, platform as the sole spokesman for Arab and Muslim communities.
Indeed, this whole “controversy” started with a CAIR press release on Tuesday, February 5, dutifully reprinted word for word by some newspapers, and virtually parroted by the New York Times and MacFarquhar. He writes:
Muslim organizations objected to the fact that no other perspective about Islam was offered, saying that the three speakers — Mr. Anani, Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat — habitually paint Muslims as inherently violent. All were born in the Middle East but Mr. Saleem and Mr. Shoebat are now American citizens, while Mr. Anani has Canadian citizenship.
“Their entire world view is based on the idea that Islam is evil,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on Islamic American Relations. “We want to provide a balancing perspective to their hate speech.” (emphasis added)
But it wasn’t “Muslim organizations,” it was CAIR. And in a fairly ironic moment, MacFarquhar quotes a radical Islamic convert, Ibrahim Hooper, to pass judgment on the credibility of a group of Christian converts, letting Hooper slander the message of the speakers as “hate speech.”
On that subject, Hooper and CAIR have absolutely no credibility whatsoever, but they do have experience. CAIR co-sponsored a conference at Brooklyn College in which radical Islamic cleric Wagdy Ghoneim told the audience, in Arabic, “The Jews distort words from their meanings.” He also led the crowd in a song which began with the lyrics, “No to the Jews, Descendants of the Apes.” An event, by the way, which CAIR has never repudiated, although its coterie of spokesman have spent years denying they had anything to do with the conference, despite the physical evidence to the contrary.
Yet you certainly won’t read about that incident in the New York Times (even though it happened in its backyard). The mere fact that the Times would cover this Air Force Academy conference story is telling, but hardly surprising. Apparently, the Times seems ready to do an exposé on anyone CAIR asks them to, yet they categorically refuse to give CAIR the same treatment.
In March 2007, MacFarquhar tried his hardest to resuscitate CAIR’s faltering image after the organization had suffered several public setbacks, including having an award from California Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, originally given to CAIR spokesman Basim Elkarra, rescinded in a very public manner over CAIR’s extensive ties to terrorists and long history of extremism. Instead of using the opportunity to report on CAIR’s sordid history — chiefly its original and continued links to the terrorist organization Hamas — MacFarquhar assured his readers that CAIR is a totally benign, transparent organization. MacFarquhar quoted former FBI official Mike Rolince, himself a sought-after speaker on the Islamist lecture circuit, who said, “Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” and then proceeded to do no independent reporting. Had he done so, he would have found, amongst other highly troubling and revealing facts:
* CAIR founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad attended a three-day conference of Hamas members and sympathizers in 1993 aimed at finding ways to “derail” the Oslo Peace Accords, which the group feared would isolate the Islamist Hamas movement.
* CAIR founder and executive director Nihad Awad stated in 1994, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”
* CAIR included the arrest of terrorists such as top Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook and the U.S. justice system’s treatment of the infamous “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdul Rahman, in its 1996 report on “hate crimes” titled, The Price of Ignorance. In fact, CAIR officials spearheaded the “Marzook Legal Defense Fund.” Marzook is currently the chief deputy of the political bureau of Hamas in Damascus.
* CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-fundraising trial in Dallas against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), and has been linked by federal prosecutors to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations several times.
* In a federal court filing in December 2007 in the Eastern District of Virginia, federal prosecutors described CAIR as “having conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists.” The government also stated that “proof that the conspirators used deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists was introduced” in HLF trial last year and the Chicago trial of two Hamas operatives in 2006.
* Four CAIR officials have either been convicted of terrorism related offenses or deported for ties to terrorism, and CAIR officials have a long history of acting as the spokesman for terrorists linked to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In fact, in response to Rolince’s unfounded assertion about CAIR, former FBI agent Mike Rolf stated, “It is clear that CAIR has had a number of people in positions of power within the organization that have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country. There are no blank stares from people working in counterterrorism in the U.S., and it is troubling that CAIR seems unable to directly and specifically condemn terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Later, MacFarquhar writes:
Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. (emphasis added)
But he cites none of the organizations and quotes none of their leaders, anointing Ibrahim Hooper and CAIR the sole spokesmen of the Arab-American community. Meanwhile, MacFarquhar systematically ignores CAIR’s long history of trying to stifle free speech, including filing lawsuits against to attempt to stifle its “critics.”
In CAIR’s most high-profile litigation, initiated against Andrew Whitehead and his website, anti-cair-net.org, CAIR eventually withdrew its suit during the discovery process. Whitehead’s attorney, Reed Rubinstein, described CAIR’s motivations for dropping the lawsuit, “It would have opened up CAIR’s finances and their relationships and their principles, their ideological motivations in a way they did not want to be made public.” And indeed, CAIR has a lot to hide. Just do not expect MacFarquhar to report on what CAIR wants to keep secret from the American public.
Yet CAIR’s intimidation tactics often work, and this incident is no exception. Aside from the Times’s assist in pushing its agenda, the Associated Press reported that Air Force Academy spokesman, Maj. Brett Ashworth, is trying to deflect CAIR’s criticism, saying, “The academy assembly has nothing to do with religion or evangelical Christianity for that matter … This is not going to be a discussion on Islam. It’s a discussion on terrorism.”
Removing the topic of radical Islam from any discussion on terrorism is patently ridiculous on its face, yet it is exactly what CAIR wants. And that is exactly what I will say when I speak at the conference today. But you do not have to just take my word for it. Take the word of Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya. He <a href="c/section/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/wrote, rather bravely, “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”
– Steve Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.