The FBI is severing ties with a national Islamic rights group that wins praise in the liberal media but is seen by conservatives as a front for the radical Muslim movement.
The FBI for years has used the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a resource to teach agents about Islam and on how to relate to Muslims during counter-terror investigations.
But the agency has began sending out letters to CAIR state chapters canceling planned FBI-CAIR gatherings "until further notice," according to Steven Emerson, who heads the Washington-based Investigative Project.
"I congratulate the FBI for taking a long overdue action," Emerson told HUMAN EVENTS. "CAIR has been one of the most radical groups in the U.S. that pretended to be moderate. This deception successfully snared the media and government agencies."
CAIR's fall from grace is rooted in the FBI's investigation and the government's prosecution of the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). The Texas jury convicted HLF this summer of charges it supported Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group. Hamas violently took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It was invaded by Israel in January in a campaign to stop militants from firing rockets into southern Israel.
At the HLF trial, FBI agent Lara Burns testified that CAIR is a front organization for spreading the Islamist message. Such public condemnation from one of its own agents made it extremely awkward for the agency to continue its working relationship.
"It finally means at least with respect to CAIR it's no longer an acceptable partner with the FBI," Emerson said.
The Justice Department named CAIR, and its chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, as unindicted co-conspriators in the HLF case.
In his new book Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, scholar Robert Spencer takes aim on CAIR's adoring liberal press and U.S. government alliances.
"This mainstream image, however, is a carefully constructed facade behind which lies a more ambitious -- and sinister -- agenda," Spencer writes. "The 'moderate' public statements of CAIR spokesmen may fool some politicians and a large number of gullible reporters, but the group's radical nature is constantly being exposed by government prosecutors and terrorism experts. And the evidence compiled from CAIR officials' own actions and words indicate beyond any doubt that CAIR is a stealth jihadist organization that ultimately seeks the imposition of Islamic law in the United States."
Emerson obtained one of the FBI letters that went out to CAIR's Oklahoma chapter.
"Regrettably, due to circumstances beyond my control, the meeting will be postponed until further notice as a result of the planned participation by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations," said a letter from the FBI field office to Muslim groups.
Assistant Director John Miller from the FBI Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., gave this statement: "The FBI has had to limit its formal contact with CAIR field offices until certain issues are addressed by CAIR's national headquarters. CAIR's leadership is aware of this. Beyond that, we have no further comment."
Emerson's Investigative Project did an extensive report on CAIR last year. He relied in part on internal Justice Department documents that showed CAIR's founders in 1994 were Hamas sympathizers. They talked on wiretaps of using CAIR as a moderate-appearing group that would spread the Islamic movement.
CAIR styles itself as the Muslim version of the American Civil Liberty Unions. Emerson says CAIR has criticized the arrest of every Muslim terror suspect in the U.S., even those convicted.
The organization has put out a series of statements praising President Obama, such as, "CAIR is calling on American Muslims and others concerned with maintaining our nation's ethical standards to thank President Obama for signing an executive order today to close down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay within a year."
Mr. Scarborough is a national security writer who has written books on Donald Rumsfeld and the CIA, including the New York Times bestseller Rumsfeld's War.