There’s a brand-new Muslim conspiracy theory in town.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding that it explain a report that they dropped a probe of suspected terrorism ties among Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) officials. “It raises the most serious question for the Justice Department to decline to even attempt to prosecute individuals and organizations, accused by a US Attorney and found by a federal judge, to have a nexus with fundraising for an organization which conducts terror attacks upon civilians,” King wrote in his letter.
It all started with a report last week by Patrick Poole of Pajamas Media, a conservative blog outfit, citing an anonymous “high-ranking source within the Department of Justice,” who claimed that in March 2010 political appointees in the DOJ, and perhaps even the White House, stopped the Dallas U.S. Attorney from indicting several leaders of Islamic groups, — among them Omar Ahmad, the founder of the CAIR.
CAIR is a frequent target of the right — including, memorably, in Peter King’s Islamic radicalization hearings in March. Jerry Markon of the Washington Post laid out the history behind the claims on Monday:
They based the allegation on the Bush administration’s designation of CAIR, along with more than 200 other individuals and organizations, as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in the terrorism financing case.
In that case, a federal jury in Dallas in 2008 convicted five men with ties to the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development — once the nation’s largest Muslim charitable organization — of providing material support to Hamas. The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.
The FBI officially cut off ties to CAIR in 2009 after the trial, Markon reports, because of evidence that “individual CAIR founders” had tied to Hamas. Prior to this, the group had been a part of the federal government’s move to reach out to Muslims after September 11.
But Poole’s source claimed the DOJ stopped the probe of CAIR officials related to the trial because they are “still the administration’s interfaith allies.”
“It’s kind of hard to prosecute someone on material support for terrorism when you have pictures of them getting handed awards from DOJ and FBI leaders for their supposed counter-terror efforts,” Poole’s source says. “How would Holder explain that when we’re carting off these prominent Islamic leaders in handcuffs for their role in a terror finance conspiracy we’ve been investigating for years? This is how bad the problem is.”
Poole followed up his report with another quote from his unnamed and purported DOJ source on Monday, who claimed that “this bizarre fetish we’ve had about Muslim outreach since 9/11 has even damaged ongoing terrorism investigations and is eventually going to get people killed. I really believe that.”
And Peter King seemingly picked up on the reports, saying that he’s been “reliably informed” that the decision was “usurped by high-ranking officials at Department of Justice headquarters over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas.”
“Their opposition to this decision raises serious doubt that the decision not to prosecute was a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” King wrote.
Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post reports that CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper called King’s letter part of a “personal vendetta against the American Muslim community.”
“This is an obvious attempt at political payback for criticism of the anti-Muslim bias in Mr. King’s recent hearing,” Hooper added. “Representative King is abusing the power of his office to carry out a political witch hunt targeting American Muslims.”
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd didn’t mention the decision in a statement, but said that “determination of whether to charge unindicted co-conspirators, were guided only by the law and the facts; any suggestion to the contrary is false and unfounded.”
The notion that an individual suspect or organization is immune from Justice Department prosecution solely because of their affiliations, memberships or political leanings is not only false but an affront to Department prosecutors nationwide who bring charges against defendants daily without regard to such considerations.
As a matter of longstanding policy, other than through charging documents and other public filings, the Department does not confirm or deny whether any particular individual or entity is or was the subject of an investigation, nor does the Department comment on any internal investigative or prosecutorial deliberations.
But, of course, the right-wing blogs have picked up on the part of the Pajamas article that blames the report on “Muslim outreach”:
Andrew McCarthy wrote on National Reviews’s The Corner that “we’re reaching out not to mobsters and their apologists but to the agents of organizations that want to destroy the West.”
Erick Stakelbeck, the News Terrorism Analyst for the Christian Broadcasting Network called the article “infuriating and revealing,” which “the mainstream media will undoubtedly ignore as it continues to carry the President’s water and accuse patriotic opponents of the Brotherhood of ‘Islamophobia.’”
And Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs wrote that “outreach is a euphemism for submission/surrender to jihad” and called the report “more stunning revelations about the subversive activity of the DoJ and Muslim Brotherhood groups.’”