The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is taking some heat from a radical Muslim cleric who is upset with the group's swift condemnation of the Fort Hood massacre.
CAIR called Major Nidal Malik Hasan's murder of 13 people and his wounding of dozens of others "wanton and indiscriminate violence" that "no religious or political ideology could ever justify."
In a recent YouTube video, American Imam Bilal Abdul-Kareem faults CAIR for leaping to conclusions about the case and for condemning the attack on U.S. soldiers. He argues that Hasan may have been trying to prevent more U.S. forces from reaching battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and killing more Muslims.
"We can't pretend - America is at war in Iraq - this is a declared open war. America is at war in Afghanistan. And Nidal Malik Hasan was reported to have been against these two wars," Abdul-Kareem said.
In that view, Hasan's actions were not criminal or terrorist acts, but legitimate acts of resistance against an enemy military installation:
"Those people who feel that this was an act of terror or this was a criminal act, I would [ask], would you say it is permissible to attack your enemy when they're still in their home country? Because this was a processing center for soldiers who were on their way to the theaters of war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. How did it become a wanton, indiscriminate, violent act? This was a military installation. It's not as if it took place in the middle of a park or a school or something of this nature.
… it is important that we keep in mind that America is a country at war with the Muslims in several different lands - Iraq, Afghanistan, help for the Israelis in Palestine, and so many other theaters of war including Somalia, Pakistan, where there are so many refugees. So I am curious to know how people can feel and say with a straight face that this was a terrorist act or this was a criminal act."
Some of that should ring a little familiar to CAIR officials, who have offered strikingly similar arguments when the terrorists target people other than American civilians. We've noted CAIR's willingness to speak out clearly against threats and attacks against the United States. But the group is far more nuanced, if not outright supportive, regarding other conflicts.
Following a 2003 Palestinian suicide bombing, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said he "would not criticize suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers. Instead, he spoke of Palestinians exercising 'the right to resist military occupation.'"
In 2004, rather than condemn attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, CAIR Research Director Mohamed Nimer affirmed Muslims'"right to self-defense" and noted that " CAIR criticized American bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq when the conduct of warfare contradicted Islamic values." [Emphasis added]
Even when four American civilian contractors were ambushed in Iraq in March 2004 and their bodies were burned, mutilated, dragged, and finally hung from a bridge, CAIR condemned only "the mutilation of [the] bodies," not the murders themselves and the terrorist murderers.
In 2001, CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad appeared at a press conference outside the State Department to rationalize Palestinian terrorist attacks as reasonable:
"What we urge, we urge the reduction of violence if it produces a result. But we should not pressure and blame the victims for resisting the occupation. Remember, it is the Israeli forces who come to the Palestinian neighborhoods and Palestinian towns and cities, and they provoke response… The aggression is coming from the Israeli side, not the Palestinians. The Palestinians are only responding to the root cause of the issue, which is the occupation." [Emphasis added]
Similarly, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. in May of 2008 then-CAIR chairman Parvez Ahmed excused suicide bombings as responses to legitimate grievances:
"Suicide bombings are the product of modern political violence. Suicide bombings by Muslims are not the result of any Islamic ideology, but rather they are the result of social political conditions of occupations." [Emphasis added]
It is also interesting to note that as Abdul-Kareem deemed the wars abroad as a "war with the Muslims," so have CAIR officials. Their record is so deep on suggesting the U.S. is at war with Islam that we devoted an entire section to it in our CAIR dossier. For example, In a November 2001 Connecticut Post report, Nihad Awad was quoted saying:
"The question [of a cease-fire] is a political one. If this war goes on and the U.S. continues to bomb Afghanistan , it will lose… [credibility] in the Muslim world in terms of support. It will be seen by Muslims as a war against Muslims. It's a phenomenon right now in the minds of some Muslims." [Emphasis added]
So to CAIR, terrorism is bad, unless it shares the killers' grievances? Then, it's "legitimate resistance." Abdul-Kareem's ideology is disturbing and abhorrent. But at least he's consistent.