Islamist groups proliferate but they also close down. This entry follows the latter developments.
(1) The first American Islamist organization to disappear was the American Muslim Council, about which I have written extensively (see "[The AMC:] 'Mainstream' Muslims?" and "United States of America v. Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi" in particular). AMC collapsed in late 2003 or so, done in by a combination of an incompetent director and a founder with large legal problems. Its vanishing was established when www.amconline.org, once AMC's website address, was put up for sale by its owner. Nov. 2, 2005 update: A new American Muslim Council, with a different website (http://www.amcnational.org/ - it had to get a new one, as www.amconline.org now hosts "your online supplies shopping resource, providing links to selected office and janitorial supply stores") and a mostly new cast of characters has sprung to life.
(2) The United Muslim Americans Association was dissolved on January 22, 2004, according to the website of the Illinois secretary of state; its website is also defunct. (UMAA should not be confused with UMMA, the Universal Muslim Association of America.) UMAA was founded by Sabri Samirah, called "an outspoken leader of Chicago's Muslim community who has helped run a group allegedly connected to Palestinian militants [and] has been barred from returning to the United States after visiting relatives in his native Jordan." Samirah's inability to return to the United States doomed UMAA. It's worth noting he was also chairman and had long been a board member of the Islamic Association for Palestine, an organization U.S. government officials have described as the American propaganda arm of Hamas. The UMAA also happened to share office space with the Islamic Association for Palestine. (July 17, 2004)
(3) KinderUSA announces in an undated letter to "Dear Respected Donors" that it is no longer accepting contributions. It blames this development on harassment by the authorities:
in recent weeks we have discovered that the federal government has targeted KinderUSA for investigation. This has taken the form of unwarranted and obtrusive surveillance by the FBI, wiretapping, attempts to bribe and subvert our employees (which has caused them to resign in fear), spreading of malicious disinformation about the organization, and the possible invasion of our office space.
In the current environment, we cannot in good faith continue to solicit donations when there are no safeguards in place to guarantee that the federal government will not seize these funds and divert them from their intended, legitimate destination. ... We feel it is in the best interests of the beneficiaries, donors and the foundation to enter into a period of evaluation and review of our options during the calendar year of 2005.
(Jan. 21, 2005) Oct. 6, 2006 update: KinderUSA is not defunct, after all. This evening, it held a Ramadan Iftar at the Holiday Inn Select in La Mirada, California. About 200 people attended the dinner, program, and fundraiser; they just about reached. the fundraising goal of $50,000. Oct. 7, 2007 update: Adam Shapiro headlines the annual fundraiser at the same hotel a year later. It's "for the Children in Palestine," it features a "Special Message from Congressman Keith Ellison," and it costs $40 for adults, $25 for students with ID.
(4) Islamic Association for Palestine is no more, according to a report by Joe Kaufman, drawing on information from Ahmed Rehab, director of communications for CAIR's Chicago chapter. Kaufman could not find out the reasons why, but he asks two good questions: "why is the organization that laid the foundation for CAIR gone? ... If the IAP is gone, could CAIR very well be next?" (Feb. 3, 2006)
(5) The Council on American-Islamic Relations may be flourishing but its "Independent Writers Syndicate," launched five days after 9/11 and "designed to offer a Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues" for newspapers has apparently disappeared into thin air. (Mar. 30, 2006)
(6) The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, with which I have a history (see "The U.S. Institute of Peace Stumbles" and "The USIP Responds to My Critique") has received the great majority of its budget from U.S. government sources, including the National Endowment for Democracy. Now, that narrow funding base leaves the CSID in jeopardy, judging by its "Important and Urgent Message":
CSID may be forced to close down in a few months because we do not have money to pay ongoing operational expenses. ... PLEASE do not let the dream and promise of CSID die!
(May 14, 2007) May 15, 2007 update: An e-mail arrived today:
From: Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy
Sent: May 15, 2007 12:01 PM
Subject: Office Space for Sublease in Washington DC
Dear Friends: Please forward the following information to anyone you know who might be looking for office space in Washington DC.
Shared Office Space Available, 1 to 4 offices, Prime Location, near DuPont Circle, Fully furnished, Flexible Terms, $1,000 to $1,500 per office, call Sami 202-265-1200
Thanks very much for your help.
May 31, 2007 update: More signs of CSID's financial problems, from its website:
OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE FOR SUBLEASE AT CSID
FURNISHED office space available for sublease at CSID office in DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON DC (1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 601,Washington DC). Space available ranges from 1 to 4 office rooms (fully furnished) and rent is between $1,500 and $4,000 per month. Rent includes use of board and conference rooms (from 10 to 80 people). Flexible lease: 3 to 12 months (renewable).
EXCELLENT LOCATION - next to Johns Hopkins, SAIS, Brookings, Carnegie Endowment, and USIP. Close to DuPont Circle metro.
For further information, please contact Sami Bawalsa at (202) 265-1200.
Feb. 4, 2009 update: CSID sent out an e-mail indicating it is again looking for a subleaser, but this time it has up to five rooms available, and this time it's Radwan Masmoudi himself who handles the details. Also note the higher rent:
We have some office space available for sublease at the CSID offices in Washington DC. If you know any person(s) or organization(s) who is/are looking for office space in DC, please let them know so that they can contact me as soon as possible. Please forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.
OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE FOR SUBLEASE
PRIME LOCATION & FURNISHED office space available for sublease at CSID main office in DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON DC (1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 601, Washington DC). Space available from 1 to 5 office rooms (fully furnished) and rent is between $2,000 and $6,000 per month. Rent includes use of board room, kitchenette, and conference rooms (up to 100 people). Ideal location and flexible terms.
EXCELLENT LOCATION - next to Johns Hopkins Univ., SAIS, Brookings, Carnegie Endowment, and USIP. Three blocks from DuPont Circle metro.
For further information, please contact Dr. Radwan Masmoudi at (202) 265-1200 or at email@example.com
Feb. 16, 2009 update: Recession is not a great time to off-load rental properties, so CSID has resent the Feb. 4 text in another blast e-mail.
Feb. 24, 2009 update: And again, the identical text went out today by e-mail.
Mar. 17, 2009 update: And again today.
Mar. 31, 2009 update: And today.
Apr. 13, 2009 update: And today.
(7) The United Association for Studies and Research and its website, http://www.uasr4islam.com/, have apparently both disappeared. (June 7, 2007)
(8) Ibrahim Ramey of the MAS Freedom Foundation announces: "The MAS Freedom Staff Says As Salaam Alaikum and, for now, Goodbye" He explains that "we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of not having the resources that would allow us to continue our advocacy and organizing work." (June 17, 2011) June 21, 2011 update: The Investigative Project on Terrorism comments on this development at "MAS' Activist Wing Closes Shop.
(9) According to Mohamed Nimer, who as an Islamist insider should know, American Muslims for Jerusalem was founded in 1999 and was defunct by 2005. (July 1, 2011)
(10) Without the outside world noticing, the Congressional Muslim Staff Association collapsed in 2011 as a result of the massive Republican electoral victory in 2010, reports Roll Call. Currently, efforts are underway to revive it. (July 21, 2014)
After several very difficult fundraising years in a row, CAIR-Chicago faces the real possibility of not being able to keep its doors open for much longer. We have put our final hopes on a strong Ramadan push this year, yet unfortunately we have still only managed to raise a small fraction of our $300,000 fundraising goal.
(July 9, 2015)