Attorney General Eric Holder made an unannounced visit to a Los Angeles mosque last week.
What went unsaid: A leading Muslim advocacy organization, the Council and American-Islamic Relations, has been working to stoke tensions in local Muslim communities over FBI investigative tactics. CAIR is angry at the FBI, because the bureau embarrassed it. How? By cutting off contacts with CAIR’s national leadership last year. Why did the bureau do that? Because evidence in a major terrorism-support prosecution in Texas showed CAIR’s origins as a propaganda arm of Hamas.
Hamas, which has waged a campaign of suicide bombings in Israel, is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and it’s against the law to provide financial or political support to it.
CAIR understands that the truth often matters less than perceptions. So the organization has been shamelessly flacking the notion that the FBI is abusing Muslims’ civil rights by using informants to tell them what’s going on inside mosques. Read the LA Times’s wide-eyed piece on the FBI mosque controversy here, with prominent quotes from CAIR leaders.
But in Minneapolis, some Muslims have turned against CAIR, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported last month. The FBI has been probing a group of Somali-born men who disappeared from Minneapolis and turned up in Somalia for jihad. CAIR’s Minnesota chapter urged Muslims to have a lawyer present when they speak with the FBI, warning of potential civil rights violations. But other Muslims have condemned CAIR for hampering the FBI’s investigation.
The uncle of a young man who was allegedly slain in Somalia by an Islamist group told the newspaper:
“We don’t want anyone to come into our community and tell us to shut up … Law enforcement will not be able to do anything without information from the community.”
The case that exposed CAIR’s ties to Hamas was against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity found to have been raising money for Hamas. The U.S. won convictions on all counts in the case last year in Dallas after an earlier trial in 2007 ended in deadlock on some counts and acquittal on others.
CAIR’s recently retired chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, was also named an undicited co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. FBI wiretaps released in the case showed CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, participating with Ahmad in early Hamas-related organizations meetings with the charity’s officers.