Friday, January 30, 2009

FBI, CAIR, and Hamas - This is Interesting, but Not News

The FBI cut ties with CAIR last summer.

Apparently, because CAIR may have ties with Hamas.

And, this little matter hasn't been in the news.

CAIR: Unindicted Co-Conspirator in Texas Holy Land Foundation Trial

CAIR is one of many unindicted co-conspirators in the Texas Holy Land Foundation trial. I've written before about my views on "unindicted co-conspirators" and the Holy Land Foundation trial: " looks like federal law enforcement is being thorough, compiling a list of who might, possibly, be involved in funding terrorists, and letting the judicial process sort out who's actively involved, and who's not...."

CAIR may or may not be tied to Hamas. And, the FBI's severing of ties with CAIR doesn't prove that a link exists. As a letter from an FBI special agent, explaining why CAIR affiliates could not participate in an FBI program, put it:

"...As you know, members of the United States Government, especially those serving in a law enforcement capacity, have a duty to be judicious in our activities as representatives of the Federal Government. As a result, if CAIR wishes to pursue an outreach relationship with the FABI, certain issues must be addressed to the satisfaction of the FBI. Unfortunately, these issues can not be addressed at the local level and must be addressed by the CAIR-National Office in Washington, D.C...."

CAIR, Hamas Linked - Maybe

This isn't J. Edgar Hoover's FBI of the sixties.

I don't have unconditional confidence in the FBI, any more than I do in any other human institution. But, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is not the Keystone Cops collection of incompetents and ideologues that traditional news media depicted four decades ago.

I have trouble believing that the top federal law enforcement organization would drop ties with an advocacy group like CAIR without very good reason. CAIR is not just America's "largest Muslim advocacy group" - it seems to have a great deal of clout with traditional news services.

In October, 2007, I speculated about why CAIR gets such polite coverage from old-school journalists:
I could be wrong, but I'd guess that there are two major reasons why so many news outlets don't report the a major civil rights group (allegedly) helping the other side of the War on terror:
  • Most editorial boards are staunch supporters of civil rights, and the groups they think are supporting civil rights
  • CAIR has a marked tendency to identify any attack, real or imagined, on a Muslim person or group, as some sort of bigotry - at best
(October 22, 2007)

FBI: Islamophobic? Bigoted? Racist?

That letter from the FBI ended with:

"...The FBI continues to be an ardent supporter of maintaining valuable dialogue with American Muslim communities and its leaders to forge new and enhanced relationships at both the local and the national level. The goal of the FBI's outreach is to eliminate retaliatory, hate-motivated crimes against Arab/Muslim-American individuals and to enlist the American Muslim communities' cooperation in the global war on terrorism.

"It is hoped the issues with CAIR can be resolved in a expeditious manner. In the near future the FBI will be contacting you to reschedule this important event."

I don't see indications of bigotry, racism, or islamophobia in that, but I don't work for CAIR.

CAIR, Hamas Link Suspected, FBI Drops CAIR Connection: This Isn't News?

What impresses me is old-school news media's lack of awareness of, or interest in, the FBI's blackballing of CAIR last summer. No matter what sort of editorial stance was preferred, the story's dramatic:
  • FBI Rejects CAIR Overtures
    Islamophobia in high places?
  • CAIR-Hamas Link Suspected
    Terror connection: investigation continues
  • CAIR Participation in FBI Events Postponed
    Pending trial affects outreach program
I'm sure there are other possible angles on the story.

The point is, the FBI's decision to sever relations with CAIR involves war, international intrigue, community programs, civil rights: and, for all I know, Hollywood stars and the endangered bog turtle.

Traditional news media should have been having a field day with the story. Instead, they maintained the sort of polite reticence that has helped make the blogosphere a serious competitor of traditional information gatekeepers.

Vaguely-related posts: Background:
  • USA v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Exhibit List
  • copy of October 8, 2008, letter from FBI special agent James E. Finch to "MCOP Invitee" (pdf)
    • MCOP is "Muslim Community Outreach Program"
  • "FBI Cuts Ties With CAIR Following Terror Financing Trial"
    FOXNews (January 30, 2009)
    • "The FBI is severing its once-close ties with the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas.
    • "All local chapters of CAIR have been shunned in the wake of a 15-year FBI investigation that culminated with the conviction in December of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
    • "The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.
    • "An official at the FBI's headquarters in Washington confirmed to FOX News that his office directed FBI field offices across the country to cut ties with local branches of CAIR.
    • "In Oklahoma, FBI officials had worked with CAIR's local branch from its founding in 2007 and attended the fundraising banquet that launched the office. But just over a year later, the local FBI froze all its programs involving CAIR...."
  • "Beware Of CAIR"
    Investor's Business Daily, Editorials & Opinions (January 30, 2009)
    • "Homeland Security: You'd think the Council on American-Islamic Relations would be savoring the results of an election that favors its agenda. Instead, it's having to do major damage control.
    • "Over the past several months, the Washington-based pressure group has suffered a series of punishing blows to its reputation as a self-proclaimed "moderate" voice for Muslim-Americans. In the latest setback, a "Dear Colleague" letter sent out to every House member warns lawmakers and their staffs to "think twice" about meeting with CAIR officials.
    • " 'The FBI has cut ties with them,' the letter says. 'There are indications' CAIR has links to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.
    • "The letter, signed by five Republicans, including the head of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, is attached to an article by a homeland-security news service. It reports that the FBI has been canceling outreach events across the country with CAIR, following a recent directive from headquarters to cut ties with the group.
  • "CAIR's True Colors"
    The Investigative Project on Terrorism (January 30, 2009)
    • "Though it represents itself to be a Muslim civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) devoted most of its resources earlier this month to mobilizing opposition to Israel's attempt to neutralize Hamas militarily. It organized petition drives and bus caravans from chapters across the country to a protest held January 10th in Washington, D.C.
    • "On Thursday, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that the FBI has cut off contact with CAIR due to unanswered questions about the organization's roots in a Hamas-support network. Earlier this month, the IPT showed how CAIR officials dutifully avoid mentioning Hamas by name when discussing the conflict. Yet no major media outlet or political figure is challenging CAIR's positions or tactics...."
  • "Investigative Project on Terrorism: CAIR's Hamas Ties Prompt FBI Cut Off"
    PR Newswire (January 29, 2009)
    • "WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The FBI has cut off communications with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the wake of damning court evidence that ties the group's founders to a Hamas-support network in America, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has learned."
    • "It is a stunning rebuke to the organization which promotes itself as 'arguably the most visible and public American Muslim organization.' The decision to end contacts with CAIR was made quietly last summer as federal prosecutors prepared for a second trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), an Islamic charity convicted in November for illegally routing money to Hamas. CAIR was named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the case...."
  • "FBI Cuts Off CAIR Over Hamas Questions"
    The Investigative Project on Terrorism (January 30, 2009)
    • "The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has cut off contacts with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) amid mounting concern about the Muslim advocacy group's roots in a Hamas-support network, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has learned.
    • "The decision to end contacts with CAIR was made quietly last summer as federal prosecutors prepared for a second trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), an Islamic charity accused of providing money and political support to the terrorist group Hamas, according to people with knowledge of the matter...."
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.
Update (January 31, 2009)

Except for FOXNews, the FBI-CAIR-Hamas situation still isn't in American national news.

It is, however, getting discussed in the blogosphere. And, there's a 'contact Congress' campaign going on, More, at "FBI to CAIR: Take a Hike" (SlantRight (January 31, 2009)).

As I've said before, this isn't the 'good old days' - and traditional information gatekeepers have stiff competition.


SlantRight 2.0 said...

Brian you are welcome to make shameless plugs at SlantRight at anytime. Keep the good work (better work than mine I might add).


Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for the offer: It's taken me a while, getting caught up on comments.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.