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May 03, 2016

Washington Post CAIR Cover-Up Fails Readers

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The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), sells itself as a U.S. civil rights organization. Yet, as numerous terrorist analysts and the U.S. government has noted, CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) retrial, the largest terrorism financing case in the country’s history. CAIR staff members and co-founders, such as Ghassan Elashi, have been imprisoned, indicted, arrested and/or deported on weapons or terrorism-related charges. The Washington Post repeatedly—and often uncritically—quotes CAIR.

CAMERA has made The Post aware of CAIR’s history, both in several unpublished letters to the editor and in correspondence to the papers’ reporters. In addition to sending CAMERA’s Special Report “The Council on American Islamic Relations: Civil Rights, or Extremism? (July 2009), CAMERA has also sent to The Post documents such as FBI Assistant Director Richard Powers statement to members of the U.S. Congress. Powers wrote that the bureau was ceasing official cooperation with CAIR or its executives until it could resolve “whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas”—a U.S.-designated terror group.

However, The Post continually fails to print CAMERA’s letters to the editor regarding CAIR—despite the paper relying on the unindicted co-conspirator as a source. In the few instances where the paper has noted CAIR’s history (see, for example “Why the U.A.E. is calling 2 American groups terrorists,” Nov. 17, 2014), it obfuscates, asserting that CAIR is not a “terrorist organization” as has been alleged by “right-wing U.S. news sites” and “some American lawmakers.” Yet, this is not the issue as CAMERA’s communications to The Post have made clear. It obscures CAIR’s connections to the HLF trial, numerous documented apologias for terrorist group’s by CAIR officials and, as noted above, the members and associates of the organization who have been connected to terror-related investigations.

That The Post continues to misinform readers about CAIR raises questions, as does the paper’s seeming unwillingness to publish letters identifying the organization. As CAMERA noted before, “The Washington Post made its reputation, in part, by exposing cover-ups like Watergate. Why cover up for CAIR?”

The letter, listed below, was sent to The Post on April 25, 2016:

Dear Editor:

Washington Post coverage (for example, “For first-time lobbyists, a day of small victories,” April 20) continues to omit the history of a questionable source repeatedly cited: the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The Post uncritically calls the organization “one of the country’s largest Muslim advocacy groups.” But it fails note that CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding case in U.S. history, the Holy Land Foundation trial. At least five former staff or lay leaders from CAIR have been indicted, arrested or deported on weapons or terrorism-related charges.

The Post quotes CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, but omits his history of extremist statements. In 1994, Awad said “I am in support of Hamas”—a U.S.-designated terrorist group. In a March 1998 article in the Georgetown Voice, Awad trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy mongering claiming that U.S. foreign policy was “driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials.” In June 1996, CAIR signed an open letter to then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher calling for the immediate release from a U.S. jail of Mousa Abu Marzook—a Hamas leader.

It is perhaps for these reasons that Steve Pomerantz, the former counterterrorism chief of the FBI, has written, “Any objective assessment of the material…leads to the conclusion that CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups.”

The chronic failure by The Post to fully identify CAIR and its history misleads readers.

Sincerely,
Sean Durns

The writer is media assistant for the Washington D.C. office of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

Updated May 4, 2016:

In his May 4, 2016 article "'It could get a lot worse for Muslims in America,'" The Washington Post's Dana Milbank relied on CAIR as a source for alleged hate-crime statistics. Milbank wrote that the rise of presidential candidate Donald Trump "has coincided with a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents to the highest level the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever found." However, as CAMERA noted in its special report on the organization, "critics have charged that the council has shown a tendency to embellish statistics about hate crimes" against Muslims. For example, an examination by scholar Daniel Pipes showed that "an earlier CAIR hate crimes report in 2005...discovered that 'of twenty "anti-Muslim hate crimes" in 2004 that CAIR describes, at least six are invalid." In keeping with apparent Post practice, this didn't keep Milbank from relying on, and failing to identify, CAIR.

Updated May 12, 2016:

The Washington Post continues to cover for CAIR. Reporter Susan Svrluga used the organization as a source for an article on the Citadel, a U.S. military academy in South Carolina, refusing to allow a Muslim student to wear a hijab. The Citadel's president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa said that no exceptions could be made to the school's uniform. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper was quoted throughout the article. Hooper claimed that not granting religious accommodation amounted to a bar on any practicing Muslim.

CAIR's history was omitted by The Post. However, the article did quote Asra Nomani, co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. Nomani said, "The headscarf is not a requirement in Islam. It is a requirement of an interpretation of a fundamentalist, puritanical, political Islam that is sold by cleric in countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran."

Of course, that is precisely the kind of Islam that CAIR advocates for. Readers would know, if The Post identified its source.

Updated May 19, 2016

In an article on Ashraf Nubani ("Terrorism cases don't deter him," May 18, 2016), an attorney who represents clients accused of terrorism, The Post called one of his clients, Randall "Ismail" Royer, "an activist with the Council on American-Islamic Relations." As CAMERA has noted in its Special Report, Royer was more than just an "activist." He was an employee of the organization.

Nonetheless, this mention, almost in passing, of Royer's CAIR association, is a rarity for The Post.

Posted by SD at May 3, 2016 04:25 PM

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