On March 23, 2019, Rep Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. was the featured speaker at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The 4th Annual Valley Banquet was held at the Hilton Woodland Hills in California.
Rep. Omar made the following remarks, which made national headlines and the rounds on social media:
CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties
CAIR was founded after 9/11 in response to Muslim discrimination.
There are two elements that need to be examined in this claim review, the first being the date and second the reasoning behind the founding of the organization.
As it relates to the timeline, CAIR was founded in June 1994. The first case the group took on was in 1995, and involved the alleged discrimination of a Muslim employee who was denied the right to wear the hijab at work.
As it relates to the reasoning, some have claimed the group was at least in part founded in response to the action film True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 1994 action film was condemned by Muslim groups for stereotyping Arabs as Villains.
It was released in July, a month after the official founding of CAIR.
The United Arab Emirates and others have accused CAIR of being an Islamist supremacist group pursuing an Islamist agenda, and claimed the group is connected to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In documents obtained by The Investigative Project as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made a series of allegations surrounding CAIR.
- CAIR was founded by two members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s now-defunct “Palestine Committee” (PALCOM).
- The Palestine Committee (PALCOM) was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to advance Hamas’ political and financial agenda in the United States.
- Nihad Awad, who currently serves as executive director for CAIR, was one of those former committee members and a close associate of Hamas leader Moussa abu Marzook.
The case, which came to be known as the Holy Land Foundation, was ultimately dropped by the Obama Administration.
In early 2007, an article in The New York Times claimed “more than one [U.S. government official] described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.”
Yet, Fox News reported in 2009 that the FBI severed all formal outreach with CAIR, a direct result of their concern about CAIR’s ties to Hamas.
Nevertheless, the primary element of this claim is verifiably false and the supporting details surrounding the claim are at best in doubt.
This rating indicates the primary claim reviewed is verifiably false, and peripheral or supporting relevant details can not be confirmed.
Learn more about the rating system used for PPD FactCheck here.
- The North American Muslim resource guide: Muslim community life in the United States and Canada. Mohamed Nimer, Taylor & Francis, 2002.
- Muslim minorities in the West: visible and invisible. Hadda, Yazbeck, and Smith, Jane I. p. 35, Rowman Altamira, 2002
- Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. Shaheen, Jack. 2001
- United States Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, Office of the Immigration Court, p. 10. Dallas, Texas, 2010.
- Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S.,The New York Times. March 14, 2007.
- FBI Cuts Ties With CAIR Following Terror Financing Trial Archived November 28, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, January 30, 2009.