A week ago, the FBI officially announced that it has cut ties with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The self-styled civil-rights organization is characteristically squawking, but the FBI’s move was patently overdue — so much so that we ought to be asking: Why on earth did the FBI have ties with CAIR in the first place?
While we should applaud the government for finally doing the right thing, we also must seize this moment to consider why this action was necessary, and what it says about the threat we are up against.
That threat is not, essentially, about terrorism. Given the life-and-death stakes involved, it is understandable that government is preoccupied by terrorism (or what Obama’s homeland-security secretary, Janet Napolitano, absurdly calls “man-caused disasters”). But jihadist terror is merely the means to a specific end: the installation of sharia, the Islamic legal code, which Muslim fundamentalists regard as the necessary precondition for the achievement of Islam’s universalist ambitions.
Sharia should be of grave concern to us because it is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution and to our way of life. It rejects several core American propositions: that liberty cannot co-exist with an established state religion, that free people have a right to govern themselves irrespective of any religious code’s dictates, that there should be freedom of conscience (sharia holds that apostasy from Islam is not merely a crime but a capital offense), sexual liberty (homosexuality is also a death-penalty offense), and equal protection under the law (sharia privileges Muslims over non-Muslims and men over women). Sharia, furthermore, is the rationale commonly trotted out by militants to justify the use of force (whether we call it “terrorism” or employ such sophistries as “resistance” or “man-caused disasters”) for resolving policy disputes — under the rationale that policies that do not privilege Islam constitute an attack on Islam and therefore justify jihadist violence.
Incrementally establishing sharia is the central imperative of CAIR and several other organizations to which our government has recklessly been reaching out for years, since long before the 9/11 attacks. In sum, administrations of both parties, and executive branch agencies including the FBI, have taken the position that government’s only legitimate concern is the comparatively tiny cohort of terrorists who construe Islamic scriptures to command mass-murder attacks.
Not only have we averted our eyes from the ideology that motivates jihadism. We have affirmatively anointed as Muslim “moderates” the purveyors of this ideology, who are anything but moderate. Worse, the effect has been to empower anti-American elements at the expense of authentic Muslim moderates and reformers who crave liberty.
CAIR is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian organization founded in 1928 that today boasts divisions throughout the world. The Brotherhood has been operating in the United States since the 1960s in a manner fully consistent with its motto: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Its website makes no bones about the fact that it seeks “the introduction of the Islamic Shariah as the basis for controlling the affairs of state and society.”
Last year, the government won convictions in a terrorism-financing trial that targeted an ostensible Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation, along with several of its top operatives. CAIR has complained long and loud because prosecutors identified it as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Its argument that this was a smear is specious. The issue is not whether the government named CAIR on a list disseminated pretrial; what’s germane is the basis for that listing. The government richly supported its assertion with evidence, and no citizen or organization has a right to expunge that which is proved in the public’s courts.
At trial, the jury was treated to a 1991 Brotherhood memorandum that described the organization’s “work in America” as “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” CAIR has been the linchpin of that strategy.
Some history is in order. In 1987, the Brotherhood had established Hamas (or “the Islamic Resistance Movement,” as it describes itself). As its charter professes, Hamas
is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterized by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgment, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.
In a memorandum filed in a Texas federal court, prosecutors further elaborated that, through the early 1990s, “the Muslim Brotherhood was controlled by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood members, and the leader of the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood was Mousa Abu Marzook, who in 1989 was selected to be the leader of HAMAS, a position that he held while residing in the United States and controlling the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.” To support Hamas, the Brotherhood established a “Palestine Committee” in the United States.
Marzook (deported in 1995, he is currently wanted on a U.S. terrorism indictment in Chicago) led the Palestine Committee. One of its most important members was Omar Ahmad, who became president of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which Marzook had formed years earlier. In 1993, the Palestine Committee convened a meeting in Philadelphia to plot a strategy for destroying the Oslo Accords’ vision of a two-state solution — Palestine peacefully co-existing with Israel, which Hamas is pledged to destroy. The meeting was secretly surveilled by the FBI, which caught Ahmad conversing with Nihad Awad, the IAP’s public-relations director, about strategies for deceiving Americans about their true intentions.
Less than a year later, Ahmad and Awad formed CAIR. The Holy Land Foundation, which was ultimately shuttered by the government and finally convicted for providing millions of dollars to Hamas, contributed part of the seed money. To serve as CAIR’s communications director, Ahmad and Awad tapped Ibrahim Hooper, another IAP veteran who has publicly acknowledged that his purpose is to establish sharia as the law of the United States.
Since its founding, several CAIR officials have been convicted or deported for terrorism-related activities and for other criminal offenses. CAIR, meanwhile, has sought to undermine national security — and the FBI specifically — at every turn: frequently mounting public-relations campaigns for indicted terror suspects, vigorously opposing the Patriot Act and the surveillance of suspected al-Qaeda communications, and even distributing a “Muslim community safety kit” that discourages cooperation with the FBI.
Despite that sordid record, government officials regarded CAIR as a representative and leader of American Muslims. Our law-enforcement and national-security agencies consulted with it closely and even permitted it to indoctrinate our agents during compulsory “sensitivity training” lectures. Doing so, they raised its profile, facilitated its radical, anti-American agenda, and dispirited our allies in the Muslim community, many of whom are in the United States precisely because they don’t want to live in the totalitarian misery the Muslim Brotherhood and its satellites would impose.
The major threat we face today is not what al-Qaeda may do to the grand structures that house our government and our institutions. It is what radical Islam is accomplishing inside those structures. Thankfully, the FBI has shown CAIR the door. But that only begins to address the problem.