The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group identified by the Justice Department as a Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated as terrorists by the United Arab Emirates, boasts of having 325 meetings with members of Congress or their staff over the last year.
The group says it also enjoyed $3 million worth free advertising through media appearances this year alone, resulting in 50 million views of its work.
A 2007 court filing by federal prosecutors notes how two of CAIR’s founders were wiretapped at a secret Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas meeting in Philadelphia in 1993, where they participated in a robust discussion of how to use deception to influence American public opinion in a direction favorable to the Islamist cause. It states:
“From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists … the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists.”
CAIR’s fundraising video boasts that there were 14,000 mentions of CAIR on radio or television this year alone, and that it has a database of 1.6 million media contacts to use. The organization said it has 65 trained spokespeople, 29 offices and 35 full-time lawyers.
The White House’s director of community partnerships said in 2012 that there had been “hundreds” of meetings between U.S. government agencies and CAIR. However, CAIR was curiously left out of President Obama's Countering Violent Extremism Summit in 2015, even though other Islamists were invited.
After participants were made known, CAIR attacked President Obama's event as Islamophobic.
CAIR’s power can give the impression that it is the leader of the Muslim-American community, but it is, in reality, the manifestation of a well-funded and well-organized Brotherhood network that has been building up its presence in the U.S. since the 1960s. CAIR was born out of this network in 1994 and has prospered with plentiful foreign financing.
A 2011 Gallup poll found that CAIR is most popular Muslim-American organization but only about 12% of Muslim-Americans say CAIR is the organization that most represents them, despite its strong name recognition, media presence and infrastructure.
CAIR’s boasts are a reminder of its power to intimidate, pressure and influence. However, since close to 90 percent of the Muslim-American community says CAIR does not represent them, there is a leadership gap that can be filled by a non-Islamist Muslim group whose values and record more closely reflect those of the Muslim-American community.
Muslims who are against Islamism have a steep hill to climb in competing with CAIR and its allies, but we must remember that they have low name identification and are attacked and excluded by their Islamist competitors who have had much more time and resources to develop.
If CAIR can accomplish all this, then imagine what a genuinely moderate organization could accomplish with time and resources.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.