CAIR con­cedes mem­ber­ship down, blames trial ter­ror list­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Au­drey Hud­son

The Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions (CAIR) says it’s suf­fer­ing a de­cline in mem­ber­ship and fundrais­ing and blames the Jus­tice De­part­ment for list­ing it as an unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor in a Texas case against a char­ity ac­cused of ties to ter­ror­ists.

CAIR asked a U.S. Dis­trict Court in Dal­las to strike it from the list of more than 300 other Mus­lim groups named as unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tors in the gov­ern­ment’s case against the Holy Land Foun­da­tion for Re­lief and De­vel­op­ment. The case is be­ing tried in Dal­las.

“The pub­lic nam­ing of CAIR as an unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor has im­peded its abil­ity to col­lect do­na­tions as pos­si­ble donors ei­ther do not want to give to them be­cause they think they are a ‘ter­ror­ist’ or­ga­ni­za­tion or are too scared to give to them be­cause of the pos­si­ble le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions of do­nat­ing money to a ‘ter­ror­ist’ or­ga­ni­za­tion,” CAIR said in an am­i­cus cu­riae brief filed in the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the North­ern Dis­trict of Texas.

The brief cites re­port­ing by The Wash­ing­ton Times as ev­i­dence of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s de­clin­ing mem­ber­ship. When this ac­count of de­clin­ing CAIR mem­ber­ship was pub­lished in The Times ear­lier this sum­mer, CAIR de­nounced it as a “hit piece.”

The Jus­tice De­part­ment shut down the Holy Land Foun­da­tion and in 2004 in­dicted sev­eral of its top of­fi­cers, who are ac­cused of rais­ing $36 mil­lion from 1995 through 2001 for the ben­e­fit of or­ga­ni­za­tions and per­sons linked with Ha­mas, des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1995. The foun­da­tion raised $12.4 mil­lion af­ter the des­ig­na­tion that made such fundrais­ing il­le­gal, prose­cu­tors say.

The 42-count fed­eral in­dict­ment ac­cuses the foun­da­tion’s of­fi­cers of con­spir­acy, pro­vid­ing sup­port to ter­ror­ists, money-laun­der­ing and in­come-tax eva­sion.

On May 29, the Jus­tice De­part­ment made pub­lic a list nam­ing 307 unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tors — in­clud­ing CAIR — in the case now be­ing tried be­fore U.S. Dis­trict Judge A. Joe Fish.

“The name of CAIR has been smeared by as­so­ci­a­tion with a crim­i­nal case that os­ten­si­bly in­volves the char­i­ta­ble fund­ing of a ‘ter­ror­ist’ group,” the brief, filed two weeks ago, sets out. The brief ar­gues that fed­eral prose­cu­tors had no le­git­i­mate gov­ern­men­tal in­ter­est in pub­licly re­leas­ing the names of CAIR and other unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tors. “In­stead, the dis­clo­sure is the vin­dic­tive at­tempt of the gov­ern­ment to smear a group which has been crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions in ag­gres­sively and se­lec­tively pros­e­cut­ing Mus­lim groups or per­sons,” CAIR told the court.

The Wash­ing­ton Times re­ported June 12 that IRS doc­u­ments showed CAIR’s mem­ber­ship de­clined more than 90 per­cent from 2001 through 2006, from 29,000 to fewer than 1,700. CAIR called that ar­ti­cle “false and mis­lead­ing” and a “hit piece” in an “ac­tion alert” mes­sage urg­ing re­cip­i­ents to “show The Wash­ing­ton Times what you think of its bi­ased re­port­ing [. . . ] by be­com­ing a mem­ber of CAIR.”

Ni­had Awad, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of CAIR, said in a June 12 state­ment that “our mem­ber­ship is in­creas­ing steadily, as is our donor base, an­nual bud­get, and at­ten­dance at CAIR events around the coun­try pro­mot­ing in­ter­faith un­der­stand­ing and re­spect for civil lib­er­ties.”

But in the brief filed in the Dal­las trial, CAIR three times cites The Times ac­count as ev­i­dence the or­ga­ni­za­tion was dam­aged by its des­ig­na­tion as an unin­dicted co­con­spir­a­tor in the Holy Land Foun­da­tion case.

The CAIR brief says “the amount of do­na­tions” to CAIR “has dwin­dled well be­low their monthly bud­get and as their as­so­ci­a­tional ac­tiv­ity nec­es­sar­ily re­lies upon do­na­tions from the pub­lic, the gov­ern­ment’s la­bel­ing of them as an unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor has chilled their as­soci- ational ac­tiv­ity.”

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice and Jus­tice De­part­ment, CAIR’s brief charges, are part of a “trend of the de­mo­niza­tion of all things Mus­lim” by mak­ing the unin­dicted co­con­spir­a­tor list­ing pub­lic: “Be­ing pub­licly la­beled as a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion, CAIR does not have any re­course un­der the law to fight this base­less ac­cu­sa­tion.”

Nam­ing co-con­spir­a­tors should be “un­con­sti­tu­tional, be­cause once the gov­ern­ment pub­li­cizes the names of the unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tors, the dam­age to their rep­u­ta­tions, eco­nomic well be­ing and ex­pres­sive as­so­ci­a­tions is done.”

“The re­sult of the pub­lic la­bel­ing of CAIR as an unin­dicted co­con­spir­a­tor has re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant in­flam­ma­tory re­torts from the Amer­i­can me­dia, sig­nif­i­cantly im­pair­ing the main mis­sion of CAIR to fos­ter un­der­stand­ing and ac­cep­tance of Mus­lims in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.”

The brief was filed by e-mail, and William Mof­fitt, at­tor­ney for CAIR, said the court could rule on his mo­tion with­out a hear­ing. Mr. Mof­fitt said he could not pro­vide any num­bers on CAIR’s mem­ber­ship, but “there has been a de­cline in mem­ber­ship.” Asked whether the num­bers con­tin­ued to de­cline af­ter pub­li­ca­tion of The Times ac­count on June 12, Mr. Mof­fitt said, “yes.”

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