The Last Days of CAIR - Why the Council On American Islamic Relations days are numbered
December 17, 2008
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, December 17, 2008 FrontPage Interview's guest today is David Yerushalmi, a litigator specializing in securities law, public policy relating to national security, and public interest law. He has been practicing law for almost 25 years. He serves as general counsel to several policy think tanks including the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. headed up by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney and the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies in Potomac, Maryland. Mr. Yerushalmi is the author of an upcoming Utah Law Review article examining in-depth the civil liability and criminal exposure for U.S. financial institutions engaged in Shariah-compliant finance. He is licensed and practices in Washington D.C., New York, California, and Arizona.
FP: David Yerushalmi, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Yerushalmi: Hi, Jamie. Nice to be talking with you.
FP: It appears that CAIR is in quite a bit of trouble lately. Give us an update.
Yerushalmi: Four of my clients, who were all once clients of CAIR, have filed a federal civil complaint alleging criminal fraud and racketeering against CAIR.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, arises out of what we can call the Morris Days affair. CAIR's Herndon office, now shuttered, had hired Morris Days in June 2006 as their "Resident Attorney" and "Manager for Civil Rights". As it turns out, Days was in fact not an attorney as he and CAIR represented to the public and as one might expect, he did not provide the legal services for those clients who came to CAIR for assistance.
What many people don't realize is that CAIR operates and presents itself as a public interest law firm, much like the ACLU. As a PILF, it must comply with the codes of professional responsibility applicable to lawyers in the jurisdictions in which it operates and keep sacred the fiduciary duty it owes its clients. As the complaint sets out in careful detail, CAIR trampled on its clients and disregarded its professional obligations with a callous and calculating malice.
Specifically, according to the complaint we have filed on behalf of our clients, CAIR failed to conduct a background check on Days prior to hiring him and when CAIR officials did discover his massive fraud, they immediately set about to cover it up. CAIR officials purposefully concealed the truth about Days from their clients, law enforcement, the Virginia and D.C. state bar associations, and the media.
The complaint identifies CAIR as a racketeering enterprise under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is a criminal racketeering statute that allows victims to sue the defendants in civil court. In addition to damages, my clients are seeking injunctive relief under this and other statutes to shut down CAIR and to prevent the individual defendants from engaging in public interest legal work in the future.
The named defendants are: the Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network Inc. (dba CAIR); Nihad Awad aka Nihad Hammad who serves as executive director of CAIR National; Parvez Ahmed who was the chairman of the board of CAIR National during the relevant time period; Tahra Goraya who was the national director of CAIR but who has since resigned; Khadijah Athman who is the manager of the "civil rights" division of CAIR; and Nadhira al-Khalili, Esq., who is in-house legal counsel for CAIR.
Also named as defendants are Ibrahim Hooper and Amina Rubin, CAIR's director of communications and coordinator of communications, respectively. According to the complaint, these two were directly responsible for issuing fraudulent press releases about the Days fraud scheme, thus aiding and abetting the CAIR cover-up.
FP: Why in your view did CAIR behave in this way?
Yerushalmi: Fundamentally, I would surmise for two reasons. The first and one more specific to CAIR is the fact that they really don't care about "Muslims civil liberties". They have the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas agenda to pursue. They use American Muslims as "victims" to advance da'wa and lawfare against the US all in the name of Jihad fisabilillah—Jihad ("soft" or "stealth") in the name of Allah.
The second and more generic answer is something I have witnessed over my more than 24 years as a litigator dealing with securities fraud and other white collar issues. A criminal organization that presents itself as a legitimate law abiding corporate citizen invariably, when put under stress, falls prey to its own bad character. In this case, CAIR, and its host of bad actors, had a serious decision to make when they learned of the Days fraud. They could have come clean or covered up. The complaint is clear what choice they made.
FP: Can you talk a bit how CAIR exploited Muslim "victims" to advance the Islamist agenda in the U.S.?
Yerushalmi: To begin, the complaint shows that Muslims and non-Muslims, but certainly mostly Muslims, came to CAIR with a variety of legal problems. In the Herndon office, they saw hundreds of clients. Morris Days, in his capacity of "resident attorney" and "manager of the civil rights division" engaged with these clients and even took money on behalf of CAIR to represent these people. But, he was not a lawyer. The complaint explains that CAIR failed to conduct even a minimal due diligence or oversight to protect their clients from charlatans like Days. Days was not the first person in the world to claim he was a lawyer when he was not. CAIR owed its Muslim public and everyone else who came to them a fiduciary duty of care—that is the highest duty in the law. When CAIR discovered his fraud, they "joined" the fraud, per the complaint, by covering it up.
Why would a putative Muslim civil rights organization behave this way? Seemingly wholly at odds with the safeguarding of the legal interests of the very people they claimed to protect.
The answer of course is that they are not in the business of protecting individual Muslims. They are in the business of advancing the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas agenda in this country through lawfare and stealth jihad. And, that is not my characterization but the US Attorney's office which prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation. What we see in this particular case that we have brought in federal court on behalf of our clients is this characterization born out in real time.
FP: What is your own reading of this situation? What do you think this all says about CAIR?
Yerushalmi: CAIR is a criminal organization and its days are numbered. The Holy Land Foundation conviction was a serious blow. We also know from our investigation that CAIR has many other vulnerabilities. When we get into discovery, we will follow the path chosen by those sued by CAIR and who simply wanted the nightmare to end. In this case, we are CAIR's worst nightmare. And, once we get a judgment, the DC Bar Association will pick up its investigation and we can only surmise the U.S. Attorney's office is also taking a close look at how this unfolds. Much rides on this civil suit.
FP: Tell us briefly about the Holy Land Foundation conviction and also what you expect the judgment to be in this case.
Yerushalmi: The Holy Land Foundation is the work of valiant prosecutors fighting a upper political echelon that just doesn't get it. They showed the best of a class in their efforts and this will be part of the building blocks for other government prosecutors and private sector lawyers like me to go after our nation's enemies who for too long have operated freely and quite brazenly and shut them down.
As to the outcome in our case, I will just say this. I don't bring lawsuits for the publicity. I bring them to get a judgment. Anyone who reads our complaint will know that this is a fact laden and fact specific charge sheet. But at the end of the day, all good trial lawyers know that it is ultimately in the hands of the fact finder—be that the judge or the jury.
FP: Overall, what dangers is CAIR in now? What may happen to the group because of this development?
Yerushalmi: Under RICO, the court can shut it down. We have asked for that. We have also named the individuals so that if they are found liable, they won't be able to migrate to other Muslim Brotherhood front groups like ISNA, NAIT, MSA with impunity.
FP: Explain RICO for our readers.
Yerushalmi: The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was initially enacted to give federal prosecutors a more finely tuned statutory weapon to go after organized crime. Too often the mob was able to infiltrate legitimate businesses which gave a veneer of legality while secretly engaging in a pattern of criminal behavior. Wisely, Congress added a private right of action, treble damages, and injunctive relief to the statute and over time, increased the predicate offenses that could count toward the "pattern of racketeering" to include terrorism related charges. In our case, though, as set out in the complaint, CAIR acted pretty much like your garden variety racketeer by creating an image of a public interest law firm but one that had no legitimate public interest.
FP: What are some things we can do to stop groups like CAIR from pursuing their destructive agendas in the future?
Yerushalmi: Most people are not lawyers and even most lawyers don't have the expertise or interest in this type of work. But, people can speak out about CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood front groups. Demand that your politicians not legitimize them by giving them a platform. Protest media outlets that put them front and center to be the "spokesman" for Muslim Americans. Educate yourself; agitate. Without that, nothing is possible.
FP: David Yerushalmi, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Yerushalmi: As always, many thanks to Frontpage and your efforts to inform and move people to action.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz's Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev's Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at [email protected]. http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=1E2CA713-7658-4384-B61E-9E017121523C
CAIR's corporate charter revoked: From David Yerushalmi, the lawyer who is prosecuting CAIR in a civil suit for fraud, comes the news that the organization has lost its legal standing because the D.C. Corporations Division found it failed to file the necessary papers. In Yerushalmi's words:
Although a statutory "reinstatement" provision allows CAIR eventually to make up for its missing filings, in the interim the organization has lost the right to conduct business as usual. Yerushalmi writes: "every act by CAIR that is not one toward dissolution is a misdemeanor in the District of Columbia (D.C. Code § 29-301.87). That means its 14th Annual Dinner was illegal; it means its website is illegal; it means that anyone who contributes money after September 8, 2008 thinking CAIR is a legitimate 501c3 organization has been defrauded." (November 30, 2008) http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2004/03/a-cair-miscellany.html