by John Rossomando
To the FBI, Justice Department prosecutors, and at least one federal judge, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a dubious organization led by executives tied to a U.S.-based Hamas support network. To social media followers, CAIR officials include rabid anti-Semites – people who baselessly compare Israeli soldiers to ISIS and who endorse slogans calling for Israel’s annihilation.
To dozens of liberal foundations, however, CAIR is a deserving recipient of their largess, an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) analysis finds.
Sixteen state CAIR chapters and its Washington, D.C.-based national office received at least 265 grants of more than $1,000 from non-Muslim foundations across the country since 2010, totaling nearly $5.47 million. Some of those funders paid for a study that, among other things, tried to cast the negative press that CAIR and other Muslim groups gained due to the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Hamas terror financing trial as Islamophobic. These non-Muslim sources provide a small, but significant percentage of the operating budgets for CAIR and its chapters. Many of the grants support CAIR civil rights litigation, programs supporting refugees and migrants and opposing “Islamophobia,” and bullying efforts.
“The Left sees Muslims as victims of Western racism, imperialism, and fascism, so it excuses their misbehavior, from hateful comments to genocide. The only exception is if Muslims are seen as Western lackeys, in which case the indulgence is righteously suspended,” said Middle East Forum (MEF) President Daniel Pipes.
“Travel Ban” Leads to CAIR Windfall
By investing in civil rights work as it advances its broader Islamist agenda, the foundations see CAIR as a legitimate mainstream organization and not the offspring of a Hamas support network.
To see a list of all the foundation grants to CAIR included in this report, click here. IPT research found that CAIR and its state chapters collected at least $2.95 million in 2017 from non-Muslim foundations. Much of this stemmed from opposition to President Trump’s travel ban, statements on funder web pages said.
The policy doesn’t ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., but that didn’t stop CAIR and its funders such as the Proteus Fund from calling it a “Muslim ban.” Proteus coordinated the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign in conjunction with CAIR’s San Francisco chapter. It also gave CAIR four grants in 2017 totaling $27,000 to counter the ban and its impact on travelers.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided in June that CAIR’s argument that the ban was based on anti-Muslim animus was unconvincing.
“… [B]ecause there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.
Reframing the Issue: CAIR Donors Downplay Hamas Ties
A 2013 report by University of California Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian and Farid Senzai of Santa Clara University provided detailed information about Muslim demographics in the San Francisco Bay area and surveyed 1,100 Muslims. The six-county area is home to 250,000 Muslims, the report claims, “one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States.”
It included a passage portraying Islamist groups named in the HLF trial, including CAIR, as victims. An endnote in the report called the prosecution “politically motivated.”
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) commissioned the report in conjunction with the San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (APIP) under the umbrella of the One Nation Bay Area Project, a partnership aimed at assessing best practices for funding Muslim groups.
The study advises philanthropic institutions to support social and legal services for American Muslims to counter “bullying and discrimination,” aid immigrants, and to counter Islamophobia. APIP said the study could benefit “philanthropists and foundations” and be an “important tool for advocacy and media purposes, given that data about the community has often been misrepresented.”
APIP members that have donated to CAIR include: Bank of America Charitable Foundation; Blue Shield of California Foundation; the Bush Foundation; California Community Foundation; Headwaters Fund for Justice; Levi Strauss Foundation; the Open Society Foundations; Medtronic Communities Foundation; Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Minneapolis Foundation; and the Boston Foundation.
Bazian is a founder of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, which churns out academic papers through its Islamophobia Studies Journal.
He also has smeared his fellow Muslims as “Islamophobic” if they supported the Egyptian military’s 2013 ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.
In the 2013 report, he and Senzai tried to minimize post 9/11 terror support prosecutions, saying, “Muslim leaders locally, regionally and nationally … have been pursued legally for one reason or another. In addition, throughout the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case the government listed other Muslim organizations as ‘unindicted co-conspirators’ and thereby tarnishing their image and creating a cloud of suspicion over both the organizations and their leaders.”
HLF’s agenda was “intended to continue to promote and move forward Hamas’s agenda of the destruction of the State of Israel and establishment of an Islamic state in its place,” prosecutors wrote. A 2008 trial ended with HLF and five former officers convicted of conspiracy and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the HLF trial, ruled in 2009 that the evidence creates “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas.”
The FBI agrees. Formal policy since 2008 prohibits outreach communication with CAIR, which the FBI “does not view … as an appropriate liaison partner” due to evidence linking the group’s leaders to Hamas.
Support for Hamas by CAIR and its leaders is not something that can be disputed.
“I used to support the PLO, and I used to be the President of the General Union of Palestine Students which is part of the PLO here in the United States, but after I researched the situation inside Palestine and outside, I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO.” CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad said in 1994. Just after its creation that year, CAIR was included in an internal list of groups self-identified as the “Palestine Committee.” The committee, created by the Muslim Brotherhood, was charged with supporting Hamas politically and financially in the United States.
Exhibits admitted into evidence during the HLF trial directly linked CAIR and its founders to the Palestine Committee. It is unlikely the foundations giving CAIR money consider this history. To them, CAIR is a civil rights organization out to protect Muslims from discrimination and challenge government policy. But its support for the Palestinian cause, continuing the Palestine Committee’s original charge, continues. CAIR’s leadership often engages in both activities almost simultaneously.
For example, CAIR Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid defined CAIR as “defenders of the Palestinian struggle” in 2014 outside a hearing for now deported Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Rasmieh Odeh.
Read it all and this:
Editor’s Note: To see the IPT’s spreadsheet with each of the 265 grants that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) received from non-Muslim foundations click here.