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News Analysis

Report: CAIR Engaged in Money-Laundering to Hide Foreign Donors

Nihad Awad (C), Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Ibrahim Hooper (L), National Committee Director of CAIR during a press conference in Washington. Photo © Reuters

Nihad Awad (C), Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Ibrahim Hooper (L), National Committee Director of CAIR during a press conference in Washington. Photo © Reuters

by: 
Ryan Mauro

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity that portrays itself as a “moderate” representative of the Muslim-American community, has a complex and probably illegal scheme to hide its foreign financing, according to a blockbuster expose in the Daily Caller and the American Freedom Law Center.

The revealing of the previously unknown system shows “that CAIR is engaged in a thinly-disguised money laundering operation,” said David Reaboi of the Center for Security Policy. He says that CAIR is violating Internal Revenue Service laws and the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

Ironically, it was CAIR’s own attempts to silence its critics that exposed its shadowy activity. The documents were obtained as a result of CAIR’s lawsuit against the Center for Security Policy and Dave and Chris Gaubatz following the publication of Muslim Mafia. The book is based on data obtained by Chris Gaubatz when he infiltrated CAIR by becoming an intern. He recently talked with the Clarion Project about his experience.

The alleged scheme works like this:

CAIR was registered as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization involved in lobbying, required to report donors of over $5,000. Funding from Islamists and overseas threatens the group's legitimacy and could force it to register as a Foreign Agent.

In 2005, CAIR addressed the problem by setting up a parallel group named the CAIR Foundation that gets a 501(c)(3) status in 2007 so its donors could be anonymous to the public. Interestingly, both the original CAIR entity and the CAIR Foundation chose not to file the required tax forms from 2007 to 2010 and lost their tax-exempt status in 2011. It is unknown what transactions happened during this period.

CAIR chose not to reapply for its original 501(c)(4) status, instead leaving it as a for-profit entity with little transparency, according to the American Freedom Law Center. It instead worked to have the CAIR Foundation reinstated as a tax-exempt group in 2012.

"The result is that CAIR, the for-profit, now receives millions of dollars from foreign Islamist sources every year, acting in effect as a foreign agent for these foreign governments, but only has to report the amounts of its income and not its sources.  CAIR then transfers these monies to CAIR Foundation as loans or grants, and CAIR Foundation then only has to report its source as CAIR," the Center claims.

CAIR also established the Washington Trust Foundation (WTF) in June 2013 to serve as its charitable arm.

The Center points out CAIR can hide donations by having financiers write a check to "CAIR" without specifying which entity. Funds can be distributed to the for-profit CAIR, which can then route the money to the CAIR Foundation as a donation.

To give you an idea of how important foreign financing is to CAIR, consider what the Washington Times discovered in 2007. Its official membership had fallen over 90% since 9/11 and only one percent of its budget came from its less than 1,700 members. Remember that next time that CAIR portrays itself as the legitimate voice of the Muslim-American community.

CAIR’s alleged hiding of its foreign sponsors also may violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The government summarizes it as:

 “a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.”

CAIR is not registered as a foreign agent, but the Daily Caller reports “CAIR has met and coordinated with foreign principals on at least 35 occasions and engaged in more than 100 political influence operations on behalf of foreign principals in the United States.”

The documents show that CAIR has been given almost $2.8 million in donations from foreign principals, including a $2.1 million mortgage loan for its headquarters. In addition, it has pledges totaling a whopping $54.5 million from foreign principals.

It’s easy to understand why CAIR would hide the identities of some of these foreign principals once you learn who they are.

The government of Qatar, the main state sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, has given a minimum of $405,000 over five years.

The “Interests Section of Iran” donated an unknown amount in 2008, as mentioned during CAIR’s 14th annual fundraiser.

The now-deceased President of Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, was asked by top CAIR officials to help pay for the distribution of 1 million Qurans in September 2009. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad even asked him to fund the creation of yet another non-profit to be called the Muslim Peace Foundation.

Qaddafi’s regime was long labeled by the U.S. as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but was no longer at the time of the meetings.

The Sudanese government, listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism by the U.S. government, has been approached by top CAIR officials since at least November 2009.

Declassified documents show that on a single trip to Saudi Arabia, the CAIR leadership planned “to solicit $50 million in governmental and non-governmental contributions.”

Various sources in the United Arab Emirates, including its embassy in the U.S., have given over $450,000.

Think about CAIR’s record and where it stands today.

The U.S. government labeled CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator and a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for financing Hamas. Specifically, CAIR was labeled an entity of the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body established to support Hamas.

In 2009, the label was upheld by a federal judge because of “ample” evidence linking it to Hamas. The FBI has officially severed non-investigative contacts with CAIR because of its links to Hamas.

The planned prosecution of CAIR founder Omar Ahmad was stopped by the Justice Department in 2010. According to Muslim Mafia, at least 15 CAIR officials have been convicted or investigated in terrorism probes.

And now, there is solid evidence that CAIR is involved in money-laundering to disguise its foreign financiers.

When will CAIR finally get shut down?

Watch Clarion Project's clip about CAIR's extremist ideology, carefully hidden from the public eye.

 

Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.