CAIR's Disappearing Leadership Act
November 12, 2008
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Within the last year and a half, the staff of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has dwindled tremendously. The latest casualty is that of CAIR-Miami's Communications Director and Hamas-defender, Omer Subhani. The causes for the drop-off, including that of scandal, vary as much as the excuses given.
On November 4th, in an article concerning Omer Subhani's refusal to acknowledge Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO as terrorist organizations, this author reported that Subhani had recently removed references to CAIR from his blog. It was a matter of interest, as he was one of the top staffers out of CAIR-Florida's main office.
In response to the article, Subhani had the following to say: "[M]y references to CAIR on this blog were taken down because I no longer work for CAIR. I have gone back to school full time since August." While he may well be telling the truth, Subhani has followed a current trend, whereby CAIR leaders have abruptly left the organization.
Ahmed Bedier, also a CAIR-Florida alum – he was CAIR-Florida's Communications Director and CAIR-Tampa's Executive Director – announced his retirement from the group in May of 2008. According to Bedier, who is infamous for having said that, prior to 1995, there was "nothing immoral" about associating with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), he left CAIR to work on a "new project." According to CAIR, he was forced out.
Another former CAIR-Florida rep, Parvez Ahmed, resigned as CAIR's National Board Chairman less than two months later, in July of 2008. Ahmed had been only the second Chair since the group began. He stated that he was tired of CAIR's "old guard mentality" – a guard that is widely recognized as having been built from Hamas. CAIR's National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR's National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, and Ahmed's predecessor Omar Ahmad all had come to CAIR, in 1994, via Hamas's American propaganda wing, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). [Ahmed is still listed as a director of CAIR-Florida's corporation.]
Arsalan Iftikhar was CAIR's National Legal Director until the middle of 2007, when he suddenly abandoned the group. Like many others within CAIR, when confronted, he has refused to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
Unlike the three staffers mentioned previously, Iftikhar never publicly announced his removal (or self-removal) from CAIR. At the time of his leaving, he was (and still is) a weekly contributor for National Public Radio's (NPR's) Barbershop show. On the June 15, 2007 Barbershop show, he was introduced as "editor and civil rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar." On the July 6, 2007 show, he was introduced only as "editor Arsalan Iftikhar." And on September, 11, 2007, during a guest commentary for NPR, he was finally introduced as "former representative to the Council on American Islamic Relations."
The mystery behind Iftikhar's abandonment and silence may very well be found in a federal trial, which began in July of 2007, dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. The defendants were part of a group associated with CAIR, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), and CAIR, over one month earlier, had been named as a co-conspirator for the trial. It is possible that Iftikhar got cold feet and no longer wanted to be linked to terror. He doesn't even list his involvement with CAIR within his extensive bio on his personal website.
Recently, a scandal which took the jobs of at least two more of CAIR's top staffers, the Executive Director and the Civil Rights Manager of CAIR-Maryland/Virginia, was revealed. Those staffers were respectively Khalid Iqbal and Morris Days.
CAIR-Maryland/Virginia, originally CAIR-Maryland, was incorporated in March of 2002 using a Bethesda, Maryland address. One of the first directors of the group was Abdurahman Alamoudi. The following year, Alamoudi became part of a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and would soon be sentenced to 23 years in prison. While Alamoudi's participation in CAIR-MD/VA went unnoticed for many years, recent accusations of fraud have brought the group into the spotlight, leading to CAIR-MD/VA's end.
On September 3, 2008, the Mapping Shariah Project (MSP) put out a press release revealing how CAIR was "threatening Muslims" with $25,000 penalties, if they were to reveal the "criminal fraud" that was allegedly being committed by CAIR-MD/VA's Civil Rights Manager, Morris Jamil Days. According to MSP, Days was falsely posing as a civil rights attorney (which CAIR-MD/VA and CAIR National promoted) to collect money for cases brought to CAIR. This, while Days was never licensed to practice law, and as such, legal services were never rendered.
As stated in the MSP release, Days' job with CAIR was terminated in February of 2008. The public announcement of this information (concerning the scandal) caused CAIR to close shop on its Maryland/Virginia chapter, and its Executive Director, Khalid Iqbal, was forced to go elsewhere, resurfacing as the Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, based in Herndon, Virginia.
Iqbal, in September of 2004, sent a personal letter to the CAIR Board of Directors, telling of his disgust regarding what he called the group's "employee turnover." At the time, he was Director of Operations for CAIR National. He stated that, in 2003, "14 people left CAIR… more than 50% of our workforce." He gave his reasoning for it, which included "low employee moral" and "loss of thousands of dollars to CAIR."
Is CAIR's fractured leadership a symptom of bigger problems within the Islamist group? How many more scandals have taken place but have gone unreported? And will these things ultimately result in CAIR's demise?
If CAIR's connections to and defense of terrorist groups do not lead to its downfall, then maybe CAIR will act to destroy itself.