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  • Writer's pictureAslam Abdullah

CAIR Chapter Chief fired for working for Islamophobic groups

The dismissal of the CAIR Ohio-Columbus executive director for serving as a mole for pro-Israeli Islamophobia groups has shocked the Muslim community all over the country. However, since the information became public, several CAIR leaders have issued explanations giving assurances that the alleged culprit was the lone man, and he did not have access to sensitive data.

Let us hope that the Islamophobic agent did not cause much damage, and the Israeli and Indian governments did not get the data on Muslim households in America that CAIR prepared with such hard work. First, however, the claim that the informant was a solo player needs to be scrutinized.

A person occupying the highest position in a local chapter recruited by Islamophobic forces is different from an office assistant.

They have access to donor and activist lists and know the mode of thinking of their board. As a result, they receive the highest briefing of the organization and the trust of their community.

While recruiting such high position personnel, the Islamophobic must have trained him well in the art of espionage, especially when Israel and its intelligence agency Mossad were the recipients of the information. One cannot rule out the possibility of recruiting others through their primary contact.

Data about Muslims and their organizations and volunteers may now possess Islamophobic forces who can sell it to any buyer. Several questions one must raise while the investigation is on.

Who recruited him, and under what conditions?

Did they check his background in detail?

Did he have access to the donor's list?

Did he have access to the activist's list?

Which Muslim organizations and centers did he represent the CAIR?

What meetings of the CAIR chapters did he attend?

Who were the people he was close to in the organization?

Who was he calling and in touch through emails?

It's a serious matter. Let us hope that the CAIR runs an independent inquiry and seeks professionals' help in reaching the bottom of the issue.

It is about CAIR, and every Muslim organization and center is vulnerable to internal espionage. It is a matter that deserves the highest priority of Islamic groups to protect their community.

We must realize that each one of us is capable of selling the interests of the community under duress, pressure, or greed. There are buyers willing to pay handsomely. After all, the FBI recruited some 15,000 informants from amongst us to find information. There are other buyers such as evangelical groups, Zionist agents, foreign governments, intelligence agencies such as RAW, MI-5, etc. One cannot control them or the agents working for them. But one can be cautious and careful.

However, our defense is our honesty, transparency, and accountability. The Islamophobic agencies and intelligence groups primarily recruit those who are weak and vulnerable. Our strength is our own commitment to our values and character.

Here is the letter issued by the CAIR on the issue.

Asalaamu alaykum brothers, sisters and friends of CAIR:

On behalf of our entire CAIR team, I hope that you and your families are doing well and staying safe. I am reaching out today to share important news about CAIR’s fight against Islamophobia.

As you know, a critical part of our work is monitoring and combatting anti-Muslim groups, which spend millions of dollars every year to demean, harass and endanger our community. Last year, our national office received extensive and unprecedented information about the inner workings of one of those organizations, the so-called Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

IPT was founded by Steven Emerson, a far-right extremist described as an anti-Muslim activist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Emerson faced international ridicule after a humiliating Fox News interview in 2015, and largely disappeared from mainstream media afterward.

However, the extensive information CAIR received showed that Emerson's hate group was still active and obsessively monitoring remarks delivered by Muslim public figures. Evidence indicated that Emerson was cursing, threatening and otherwise mistreating his staff for failing to produce enough Islamophobic content.

The evidence also indicated that Emerson's hate group was communicating with and providing assistance to Israeli intelligence with the office of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Let me say that again. The Israeli government was collaborating with an anti-Muslim hate group.

Although this was a major discovery, the evidence revealed something even more disturbing: Emerson's hate group had spent years trying to infiltrate and spy upon prominent mosques and Muslim American organizations using “moles” among their staff and volunteers. One of the organizations targeted was the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of CAIR.

After learning about this situation, we hired an outside law firm and a forensic specialist to vet the evidence we received and provide us with an evidentiary report. We also alerted other Muslim community leaders whose groups were targeted so that they could perform their own investigations.

Last month, our forensic investigator provided her report. The report confirmed that the key evidence we received was authentic and that an employee of a local CAIR affiliate had indeed been secretly working with a hate group.

That employee was Romin Iqbal of CAIR-Ohio.

For years, Mr. Iqbal was secretly sharing confidential information about our civil rights work—including surreptitiously recorded conversations, strategic plans and private emails—with anti-Muslim extremists. He did this in violation of his ethical duties to the organization and his moral duty to protect the Ohio Muslim community.

The local chapter’s Board of Directors has fired Mr. Iqbal--who confessed to working with the hate group after being confronted with the evidence against him-- and secured their organization’s key data, assets and infrastructure. CAIR National has also confirmed the safety and security of our systems. Mr. Iqbal never had access to our data or the data of other local offices, which operate separately and maintain strong security protocols.

We are now working closely with the CAIR-Ohio team to hold Mr. Iqbal, this anti-Muslim hate group and those who worked with them—whether foreign or domestic actors—accountable for their conduct, which may have violated numerous state and federal laws.

We thank Allah for exposing this plot to us, and we thank Allah for protecting us from harm. “…they plan, and Allah plans, and Allah is the best of planners.”

Sadly, this hate group’s attempt to spy upon mosques and Muslim organizations was not surprising. Civil rights advocates have been targeted by infiltrators for decades. From Malcolm X and Fred Hampton to anti-apartheid activists, those who stand for justice have repeatedly been targeted by those who stand for injustice.

The fact that anti-Muslim bigots are so obsessed with CAIR’s work is a badge of honor and a testament to the importance of our work. The great irony of this situation is that this hate group and its allies never found any damaging information to use against us or other Muslim organizations. That is a testament to the integrity of the Muslim American community.

Finally, please know that we continue to investigate this situation further. There is more information that we cannot share publicly at this time. Rest assured that we plan to do everything that we can to protect American Muslims from the harm of hate groups.

As always, we thank you for your trust and support. We encourage you to redouble your support for our work to fight anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.

With thanks,

Nihad Awad

National Executive Director

Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Ave SE

Washington, DC 20003

United States

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