Written by Ryan Mauro
On February 11, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent out a newsletter with the subject line, “Creating America’s War on Terror.” The message is that the U.S. government is victimizing Muslim Americans under the guise of a made-up war on terrorism. The Islamist terror threat is the creation of a money-seeking FBI. In making its case, CAIR linked to a radio segment on an interfaith-themed radio show. Since the war on terror began, CAIR and other groups with Muslim Brotherhood origins have depicted it as a war on Islam. Its newsletter linked to a February 7 segment on Interfaith Voices, a radio show carried on over 60 stations across the country. The summary of the show is as follows:
The FBI gets billions of dollars every year to fight terrorism–and they can’t come back empty-handed. That’s the conclusion of investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson, who documents how the FBI is hiring thousands of informants to infiltrate American Muslim communities and strike up conversations with anyone they believe might harbor a terrorist thought. If all goes according to plan, these would-be radicals agree to carry out a violent plot – a plot they wouldn’t be able to pull off without government help.
A look at the show’s archives shows why CAIR would be a fan. John Esposito, one of its foremost defenders, was the guest booked to discuss the alleged overuse of the term “Islamist.” On March 16, 2012, the show was about “Christian Zionism” and the “unholy alliance between Christians and Jews.” The guest was Max Blumenthal, an author that rails against the “Islamophobe” critics of the Brotherhood legacy groups. The show was replayed on December 21.
The newsletter also links to an article alleging that a Muslim charged with planning to attack a bank in Oakland as an act of jihad suffers from mental problems. It reports that he has a history of substance abuse and paranoia and was bipolar. He also has said that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of experiences with drug cartels.
The executive-director of CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter, Zahra Billoo, a supporter of Hamas and the elimination of Israel, suggested that the FBI committed entrapment. She is quoted in the article as saying, “Did the FBI take a [mentally ill] aspirational terrorist, make him an operational terrorist and then thwart their own plot?”
The goal, just like with CAIR’s fight against the word “Islamist” and its “MyJihad” campaign, is to shift blame away from ideology. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar affects about 5.7 million American adults each year and 7.7 million suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Waging armed jihad isn’t exactly a common symptom. This happened because of ideology, even if mental instability made him more susceptible to it.
CAIR’s newsletter also linked to a New York Times editorial and included the quote, “New York City police routinely selected Muslim groups for surveillance and infiltration, even when they did not sponsor unlawful or terrorist acts and were not accused of contributing to them.”
The NYPD did not pick Muslim groups or individuals at random to investigate. As I wrote when the controversy began, the NYPD came under heavy criticism for its surveillance of Muslim Students Association (MSA) chapters. The MSA was founded by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues and is listed in a 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo as one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”
The NYPD didn’t look into MSA chapters solely on this affiliation. The NYPD had specific reasons for their concern and information available in the public domain showed extremist tendencies in at least some of these chapters. Though CAIR and the Brotherhood legacy groups tried to rally the entire Muslim American community behind them, a group of about 20 Muslim American activists held a pro-NYPD rally.
CAIR’s newsletter is just its latest effort to convince Muslim Americans that the U.S. security agencies are out to get them and they need CAIR to defend them. The Brotherhood legacy groups went into propaganda overdrive when the U.S. government began investigating and prosecuting organizations linked to Hamas and the Brotherhood like the Holy Land Foundation. Imam Mohamed Magid, the current President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), accused elements of the U.S. government of being “intent on dismantling Muslim organizations and bringing them down.”
The Holy Land Foundation was found guilty of financing Hamas and five of its officials were convicted. ISNA and CAIR were labeled unindicted co-conspirators in the trial and as entities that were/are part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network. Again, they cried foul and went to court. In 2009, a federal judge upheld the labels because of “ample evidence” linking them to Hamas.
This is an ongoing campaign. ISNA has even held interfaith events about the “Islamophobia Network” in churches. In September, Hatem Bazian of American Muslims for Palestine spoke at Zaytuna, America’s first Muslim college, alongside Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir.
Bazian told the students that a “military-industrial complex” is behind the “Islamophobic production industry.” He said:
Those who are working on Islamophobia, they believe that the more hatred we have of Muslims in here, the more that we have reflexive hatred of Muslims abroad, thus authorizing or making the need for military action and the death and destruction more palatable to us without having to think we are actually killing humans.
CAIR and its allies make “Islamophobia” the issue and then interfaith partners and government officials engage them to address it. By addressing it, the issue is giving more prominence and CAIR is given a bigger platform. With this platform, CAIR shouts about the “Islamophobia” of its opponents, continuing the cycle.
The FBI and the other security agencies are not guilty of “creating” a war on terror. They are not bigots that make money by persecuting innocent Muslims. This accusation should result in the isolation of CAIR and its allies, not their embrace.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.