C.A.I.R.'s Director of Communications wrote a letter to the president of the company that published Daniel Pipes' book Militant Islam Reaches America. Following is the letter and my comments, which are bracketed and in bold face.
June 10, 2002
Mr. Drake McFeely
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10110
Via Fax: 212-869-0856
Via E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. McFeely:
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and spirits.
As we discussed in today's phone conversation, our organization has grave concerns about the accuracy and objectivity of Daniel Pipes' new book "Militant Islam Reaches America," to be published in August by W.W. Norton.
Mr. Pipes has a long history of defamatory attacks on the American Muslim community. At a recent meeting of the American Jewish Congress (10/21/01), Pipes even cautioned against the enfranchisement of American Muslims. He said: "I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews."
[FACT: It is no secret that fundamentalist Muslims want to kill all Jews. Therefore consider this, reported by Daniel Pipes: "One of the few non-fundamentalist leaders in this country, Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, warned the State Department in early 1999 that extremists had "taken over 80 percent of the mosques" in the United States."]
This is a man who also says Islam should not be taught in a positive light in our schools, that 15 percent of all Muslims are "potential killers," who once described "the American Muslim threat to the Jewish community" as a "freight train coming down the track and headed for us. . ."
[FACT: Mr. Pipes has made very clear his opinion in many articles. For example: "The problem at hand is not the religion of Islam but the totalitarian ideology of Islamism. As a faith, Islam has meant very different things over 14 centuries and several continents. What we can call 'traditional Islam,' forged in the medieval period, has inspired Muslims to be bellicose and quiescent, noble and not: one can't generalize over such a large canvas. But one can note two common points: Islam is, more than any other major religion, deeply political, in the sense that it pushes its adherents to hold power; and once Muslims do gain power, they feel a strong impetus to apply the laws of Islam, the shari`a. So Islam does, in fact, contain elements that can justify conquest, theocracy, and intolerance."
Mr. Pipes estimates that fundamentalist Muslims accounts for 10-15 percent of the Muslim population and are therefore potential killers: "Individual Islamists may appear law-abiding and reasonable, but they are part of a totalitarian movement, and as such, all must be considered potential killers." The letter dishonestly drops the context of the statement and the reasoning behind it, which clearly makes sense.]
. . . and who claimed to have a special mental "filter" with which he can detect those who want to "create a Muslim state in America."
[FACT: The President of C.A.I.R. reportedly said: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. . . The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." [More about this later.] Clearly Mr. Pipes is reporting the truth.]
(Pipes once told an audience: "The Palestinians are a miserable people...and they deserve to be." [Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2001]) . . .
[FACT: Here is Pipes' reply: "I never said anything along the lines of 'The Palestinians are a miserable people …and they deserve to be.' That's not how I think, speak, or write." As a regular read of Mr. Pipes, I attest that that is not at all how he writes, at least. ]
Along with his attacks on the American Muslim community and its leadership, Mr. Pipes has for a number of years focused his smears and distortions on our organization. He has a long list of false, and potentially legally-actionable, charges that he uses whenever writing about CAIR.
The charge he has referred to as the "smoking gun" is an alleged quote by our Board Chairman Omar Ahmad indicating that CAIR has "aggressive ambitions." This fake quote is based on a July 4, 1998, article in California's San Ramon Valley Herald. The statements referred to in the article, which Mr. Ahmad denies making, are not even within quotes. They are the reporter's words, not Mr. Ahmad's.
[FACT: This article, linked above, indeed has quotation marks around that statement, so the letter's author is blatantly lying here. Whether the president said those things or not, I do not know.]
The following is a point-by-point analysis of other false charges Mr. Pipes uses to attack CAIR:
1) CAIR's challenge to the appropriateness of a Los Angeles billboard with the image of Osama bin Laden indicates our support for terrorism.
Facts - As with many of Pipes' allegations, the opposite is true. CAIR asked that billboard with the image of bin Laden and the headline "Our Sworn Enemy" be taken down several years ago because we believed the general public would not see it as an indictment of Osama bin Laden (he was not identified on the billboard), but would instead view it as a stereotypical statement against all Muslims. We asked that it be taken down to prevent Muslims from being associated with Osama bin Laden.
[I don't know the truth about the history of this story. While it is true that before 9/11 few people would recognize a picture of bin Laden and the billboard may be construed to be anti-Arab, I doubt that CAIR would have had a different position if it clearly named bin Laden as "Our Sworn Enemy." Someone should test that theory and see how CAIR reacts.]
2) Pipes claims that I denied Osama bin Laden's involvement in the East African embassy bombings when I was quoted in an AOL online interview as referring to "misunderstandings of both sides."
Facts - What Pipes failed to mention is that the "both sides" I referred to were the West and the Muslim world, not bin Laden.
[No comment; I can't find evidence one way or the other. But the statement is vague, in the least, and subject to interpretation by Mr. Pipes and others.]
3) Pipes says that CAIR failed to condemn Osama bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks.
In reacting to a videotape of Osama bin Laden released December 13, 2001, by the Pentagon, CAIR stated:
"For anyone who was not convinced of Osama bin Laden's complicity in the events of September 11, the content of this videotape should remove all doubt. Bin Laden clearly spoke as someone who had foreknowledge of the attacks.
"The tape was particularly disturbing for several reasons: 1. Bin Laden seemed to revel in the death and destruction in Washington and New York. 2. He falsely implied that the acts of the hijackers were justified by Islamic beliefs. 3. He made the sickening statement that the attacks 'benefited Islam greatly.'
"As we have stated repeatedly, the tragedy that occurred on September 11 cannot be justified by any cause or religion. We restate our condemnation of those who committed this crime and look forward to seeing the perpetrators brought to justice."
[FACT: This issue arises from a criticism of an article by Jake Trapper by the author of this letter, Mr. Hooper, who originally made this accusation about CAIR. The fact is that CAIR denied Bin Laden's complicity until this video made their position too preposterous to maintain. As Pipes wrote, "In 2001, CAIR denied his culpability for the Sept. 11 massacre, saying only that "if [note the "if"] Osama bin Laden was behind it, we condemn him by name." (Only in December was CAIR finally embarrassed into acknowledging his role.)"
These are most interesting points that neither Mr. Hooper nor anyone else at CAIR, as far as I can tell, has not addressed.]
4) "CAIR consistently defends other militant Islamic terrorists." Pipes falsely claims CAIR called the conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing "a travesty of justice" and termed the conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman a "hate crime."
Facts - CAIR never called the conviction of Sheikh Omar a "travesty of justice." We never called the conviction of Sheikh Omar a "hate crime." In fact, other than a one-paragraph mention in the 1996 CAIR report on Muslim civil rights, CAIR never dealt with this case in any shape or form. (The events leading to the trial occurred before CAIR even existed.) To quote from the 1996 CAIR civil rights report: "Lawyers defending Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman complain that his trial was far from free and fair." That is it. No mention of "hate crimes."
[FACT: Daniel Pipes (and others) quoted Jake Trapper, who wrote:
To substantiate its claim about "hate crimes," CAIR publishes annual reports on alleged hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims. Upon closer scrutiny, a large proportion of the complaints have been found to be fabricated, manufactured, distorted or outside standard definitions of hate crimes. The most egregious example of this is the fact that CAIR classified the arrest of Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk and the conviction of World Trade Center bombing conspiracy ringleader Sheik Omar Abudl-Rahman in its annual survey of "hate and bias crimes" against Muslims."
However, Mr. Trapper later apologized : "let me first apologize for one error in my story. I wrote that CAIR had called the conviction of Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman, whom U.S. authorities deemed the ringleader of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, a 'hate crime.' In fact, in 1996 CAIR published a book called 'The Price of Ignorance' which dealt with the 'status of Muslim civil rights in the United States.' That book listed 'incidents of anti-Muslim bias and violence,' on which CAIR included the trial of Abdul-Rahman, which ended with his conviction for conspiring to blow up the Lincoln Tunnel and other New York City landmarks. CAIR listed the trial on that list of "incidents of bias and violence" because Abdul-Rahman's lawyers said that his trial had been 'far from free and fair.' They did not call it a 'hate crime.' I regret the error.
What still stands uncontested is that CAIR fabricates hate crimes. What else is interesting is Trapper's response to Hooper's criticism:
Hooper claims I somehow have twisted his words over his inability to offer an unqualified condemnation of Osama bin Laden. He does so by -- again -- refusing to offer an unqualified condemnation of bin Laden. Hooper also never even mentions Hamas and Hezbollah, despite the fact that a major part of the story -- and point of serious concern among Muslim critics of CAIR -- is that CAIR and the AMC tacitly support these groups, which the U.S. State Department classifies as "terrorist" for killing Israeli civilians in terrorist acts and, in the case of Hezbollah, American soldiers.
Also notice that Hooper continues to refuse to clarify CAIR's position on the "innocence" of the civilian victims of terrorism. Fundamentalist supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah are known to consider Jews and Israelis evil, and therefore justify murdering them, even children. They do not consider it to be terrorism. But instead of clarifying that that is not the position of CAIR, Hooper writes that that the group does not believe in a "hierarchy in which some civilian victims of terrorism are 'innocent' and others are not." Again, why the obfuscation? If CAIR believes killing civilians -- including Jewish and Israeli civilians -- is terrorism, and wrong, why not just say so? Surely most American Muslims would have no problem condemning bin Laden with no qualifications. Why can't Hooper?
5) "CAIR also backs those who finance terrorism." This is a reference to the American Muslim community's outrage at the closure, without a court hearing, of the largest Muslim relief organizations in this country. Pipes quoted CAIR saying the government's action was "unjust" and "disturbing."
Facts - Pipes must also think U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler backs terrorism when she said this week that, "It seems the government's approach [to the Holy Land case] is too simplistic" and that the case raised "significant and distressing allegations" about government actions in its war on terror. (Washington Post, 4/23/02)
The American Muslim community sees the closure of its relief organizations, based on evidence that is not made public, to be "unjust" and "disturbing." All we ask is that these groups have their day in court and that the funds are unfrozen and directed to those in need.
[FACT: Grand Jury indictments (see example here) must be obtained to close these organizations, and the evidence presented is never public in the United States. It is preposterous for CAIR to call the American judicial process "unjust" and "disturbing" if they have any less than complete contempt for totalitarian governments of Islamic countries, where there is no due process at all.]
6) "CAIR even includes at least one person associated with terrorism in its own ranks."
Facts - This old and distorted allegation again relies on the public's inability to get the real story. The person referred to by Pipes is Imam Siraj Wahhaj, one of the American Muslim community's most respected leaders. As part of the original World Trade Center case, the prosecutors released a long list of people who "may be alleged as co-conspirators."
This list included anyone who came within 100 miles of Sheikh Omar. Since Wahhaj was a leader in the New York community in which Sheikh Omar lived, his name was included on the list. He was never charged with any crime, nor was there any evidence presented that he was involved in the conspiracy in any way. Pipes knows this but continues to smear a respected Muslim leader.
[FACT: Pipes indeed wrote that: CAIR even includes at least one person associated with terrorism in its own ranks." But it's true: "On Feb. 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named Siraj Wahhaj as one of the 'unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators' in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments."
It was much more than geographic proximity that led to the connection between Wahhaj and the trial: Wahhaj called for the U.S. government to be replaced with a caliphate. I think that raises suspicions beyond geographic proximity--and I bet there is a lot more circumstantial evidence.
7) Pipes quotes former FBI official Steven Pomerantz, saying "CAIR, its leaders and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."
Facts - Now we come to the unacknowledged source of Pipes' "facts." That source is Steven Emerson, a self-proclaimed "expert on terrorism" who also has a long history of attacks on the American Muslim community and its leadership. (Pipes was at one time Emerson's employer and is quoted in Pipes' promotional materials praising "Militant Islam Reaches America.") The Pomerantz quote comes directly from Emerson's Islamophobic playbook.
And just how is Steven Pomerantz connected to Emerson and Pipes? John Sugg, former Senior Editor of Florida's Weekly Planet newspaper noted the following about sources characterizing American Muslim groups as allies of terrorists. Sugg wrote:
"These sources are Steven Pomerantz and Oliver 'Buck' Revell. Not noted is that Pomerantz and Revell are officers of the same institute, and that both have a close association with Emerson. They are hardly independent sources. In fact, the three spend most of their time nowadays quoting each other about what excellent terrorism experts they all are...Of course, these...people spend their time (and make money) out of portraying Arabs and Muslims as terrorists..."
[FACT: Who cares what the source of the quote from Pomerantz is? The issue is whether this expert said this or not. Is the author of the letter denying that he said it? No--but he is certainly implying it, and trying to obfuscate the issue. The fact is that Pomerantz's quote is all over the Web, and here's another one from the spring 1998 issue of The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International: "...CAIR is but one of a new generation of groups in the United States that hide under a veneer of 'civil rights' or 'academic' status but in fact are tethered to a platform that supports terrorism."]
8) CAIR "intimidates" so-called "moderate Muslims." In one case, Pipes claims CAIR actions led to a death threat against a Muslim author.
Facts - Pipes refers to Khalid Duran, a mysterious and controversial author whose new book CAIR challenged as inaccurate and stereotypical. ("Duran" is apparently not his real name.) Of that same book, the Chicago Tribune wrote: "When asked by the Tribune to examine the contents...several experts on Islam and veterans of interfaith dialogue concluded that some of those fears [about the book's stereotypical content] may be justified."
Last year, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) tried to interest reporters in an article published in Jordan from what the State Department called "a fairly marginal newspaper with a limited readership" that criticized Khalid Duran. The AJC and Duran's attorney attempted to portray the article as a "fatwa" and "death edict" from the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. That group, and the author of the article, said no such ruling had been issued. (Associated Press, 6/30/2001)
Duran's attorney, Michael J. Wildes, is the same person who promoted a 1998 story about an alleged Pakistani scientist who claimed that country was planning a nuclear first-strike on India. Scientific experts who interviewed the defector pronounced him a fraud. (USA Today, 7/7/98) SEE: http://www.fair.org/extra/9901/emerson.html
[FACT: Here is what Mr. Pipes says about the Khalid Duran incident. In an interview he said, "A gentleman by the name of Khalid Duran, who is a Muslim, a moderate Muslim, an author, wrote a book on Islam. CAIR came out with a vicious attack on it. And, as a result of that, a militant Islamic leader in Jordan put a death edict on Mr. Duran, said-he lives, by the way, outside of Washington, Mr. Duran does. CAIR, instead of denouncing this edict coming out of Jordan, denied that it ever took place. So what one sees here is a kind of one-two punch, where CAIR attacks an American, the Jordanian launches a verbal and potentially criminal assault on him, and CAIR then backs away, and says: 'We have nothing to do with it.' Over and over again, one see this pattern."
Here's a more elaborate account of the incident:
"[CAIR] issued two press releases in which it insulted Durán personally and demanded that [his book] Children of Abraham be withheld until a group of CAIR-appointed academics review the book to correct what it assumed (without having read the manuscript) would be "stereotypical or inaccurate content."
CAIR being part of an international network of Islamists, like-minded publications in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East quickly picked up its message. With the retelling. naturally, the story hardened. Thus, Cairo's Al-Wafd announced that Durán's book "spreads anti-Muslim propaganda" through its "distortions of Islamic concepts."
The campaign of vilification culminated in early June, when a weekly in Jordan reported that 'Abd al-Mun'im Abu Zant, one of that country's most powerful Islamist leaders, had declared that Durán "should be regarded as an apostate" and on this basis called for an Islamic ruling that "religiously condones Durán's death."
Days later, Durán's car was broken into, with a dead squirrel and excrement thrown inside. And CAIR, far from apologizing for the evil results of its handiwork, has the gall to accuse the AJC of fabricating the death edict as a "cheap publicity stunt to boost book sales."
ABU ZANT was applying the "Rushdie rules" that Ayatollah Khomeini had established back in 1989, whereby anyone critical of Islam or Islamism is liable to be fined, jailed, or perhaps threatened with death. Already applied in most Muslim countries and many Western ones (Canada, Holland, France, Israel), these rules now threaten to be extended to the United States.]
Nat Hentoff in the Jewish World Review claims that technically there is no fatwa, but rather an "edict" against Durán:
An edict against Duran -- not a full-blown fatwa -- has been issued by Shaykh Abdul Al-Menem Abu Zant, an Islamic cleric in Jordan and a leader in the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. This party celebrated the June 1 Tel Aviv suicide bombing that killed 20 Israelis, and the Palestinian bomber, as "a heroic martyrdom operation."
The edict is a prelude to a command to murder Duran -- because of a book he wrote intended to advance Muslim-Jewish understanding, newly published here by the American Jewish Committee. The edict called for all Muslims in the United States "to unify against Duran" because he has vilified Islam in his book.
Whether it is a fatwa or an edict, it is an evil pronouncement nonetheless – which CAIR has not condemned.
9) CAIR is "embracing murderers" by monitoring the trial of Imam Jamil Al-Amin to make sure he received his legal rights unencumbered by anti-Muslim bias.
When Imam Jamil was arrested, CAIR issued a statement that read in part: "We are not here today to judge the guilt or innocence of any party to this tragic series of events. Just as we do not prejudge, we ask that others wait until all the facts are known. In America, as in Islam, anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty."
After his conviction, we wrote: "We do not believe the facts presented in court warranted a guilty verdict against Imam Jamil. His defense team offered credible evidence indicating that he was not the person who shot the deputies. We believe Imam Jamil will be exonerated on appeal...The American Muslim community and its leadership will continue to support the cause of justice in this case and will work to ensure that Imam Jamil is able to exercise all the rights he is entitled to under the law." Pretty radical stuff, eh?
[Sounds like an O.J. case to me.]
10) CAIR "promotes anti-Semitism." He offers as evidence CAIR's supposed co-hosting of an event in New York at which anti-Semitic remarks were made.
CAIR did not sponsor the gathering in New York. If our name was listed as a sponsor, it was done without our permission or consent.
We believe it is a fear of the growing Muslim political voice in America, not a genuine desire to fight terrorism, that drives bigots like Pipes. W.W. Norton should not let itself be used in Pipes' vendetta against American Muslims.
[Mr. Pipes is bigoted? I challenge anyone to find a more bigoted statement than what the president of CAIR said: "Everything we need to know is in the Koran. We don't need to look somewhere else."]—Ed.
CAIR will carefully examine any charges against our organization made by Mr. Pipes in his upcoming book. Any false or defamatory material will be referred to our attorneys for the strongest possible legal action.
I await your reply.
Cc: Haig Kalbian, Esq.
I am indebted to Paul Blair for bringing this letter to my attention, as well as his assistance with research and suggestions.
The alleged quotation is from http://www.wrmea.com/archives/july01/0107057.html. The author is "a Palestinian human rights activist in Oregon" and the journal publishes editorials by Pro-Palestinians such as Edward Said. There is no other published source that back ups the claim that Mr. Pipes said this, as far as I am aware.