by Ryan Mauro
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General released a new report about its investigation into prohibited FBI contact with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. The report criticizes the FBI for failing to ensure compliance with the policy.
In 2008, the FBI officially ended its use of CAIR as a Muslim outreach partner after the organization was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, CAIR’s fellow U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, for financing Hamas. CAIR was listed by federal prosecutors as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body it set up to advance the Hamas and overall Islamist agenda.
In April 2009, the FBI Office of Congressional Affairs said that “until we can resolve whether there continues to be a relationship between CAIR or its executives with Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”
The Justice Department report also quotes the FBI as saying the policy was enacted to “ensure that the FBI is not supporting individuals who support extremist or terrorist ideologies.” It also mentions that evidence presented during the Holy Land trial linked two CAIR-National leaders to Hamas.
According to the report, in July 2008, field offices were instructed to follow guidelines that included “refraining from participating in any CAIR-sponsored events, avoiding being photographed with leaders of CAIR, and not engaging with CAIR in events such as fundraisers.”
The FBI acknowledged that there were “many close relationships between various FBI field divisions and local CAIR chapters.”
Although the agency does not consider all CAIR chapters to be “affiliated with terrorist organizations,” it said, “in order to stop CAIR senior leadership from exploiting any contact with the FBI, it is critical to control and limit any contact…”
FBI field offices were told that if CAIR is their main primary point of contact with the local Muslim community, they must find another liaison.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz began the review in March 2010 and focused on five engagements between the FBI and CAIR from 2010 to 2012.
The first incident was the fault of the Chicago Field Office and involves a July 20, 2010 speaking engagement at the American Islamic College.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism discovered that the FBI field office in New Haven, Connecticut was involved with CAIR in holding a Diversity Training Workshop in October 2010. The office got around the policy by making sure the FBI was not listed as a formal sponsor.
The third incident was also committed by the Chicago Field Office and took place on December 20, 2010. The event was a Department of Homeland Security Quarterly Chicago Roundtable.
The fourth and fifth incidents involved the Philadelphia Field Office. CAIR attended a training session in December 2010 and took part in Pennsylvania Human Relations Task Force meetings from August 2011 to June 2012.
The report disclosed that the Los Angeles FBI Special Agent-in-Charge willfully ignored the headquarters’ ban on non-investigative contacts with CAIR.
“Please instruct your folks at this time that are not to abide by the…[policy] but that their direction in regards to CAIR will come from the LA Field Office front office,” he wrote.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote a letter to the new FBI Director demanding action over the Justice Department’s findings. He specifically pointed out the “unacceptable and insubordinate behavior from a senior leader of the FBI,” referring to the Los Angeles Special Agent-in-Charge.
The FBI’s ban on non-investigative contacts with CAIR provides an opening for anti-Islamist Muslim groups like the American-Islamic Leadership Coalition to replace the Muslim Brotherhood front as the FBI’s liaison partner.
Unfortunately, it appears that many FBI field offices have replaced CAIR's role with the Islamic Society of North America, another unindicted co-conspirator in the same trial.
The FBI’s shunning of CAIR is a step in the right direction, but the standard that disqualifies CAIR as a liaison partner needs to be shared across the board. All Islamist groups, especially identified U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities, deserve the same treatment.
Excerpt from Dept of Justice Report – Reiterates that CAIR was named unindicted co-conspirator in terror financing case and that FBI should refrain from unnecessary contact "…to ensure that the FBI is not supporting individuals who support extremist or terrorist ideologies."
FBI Response to DOJ Criticism of Improper Ties to CAIR