The IRS has stripped the embattled Council on American-Islamic Relations of its tax-exempt status after the nation's most prominent Muslim group withheld donor records from the government.
The move by the federal agency follows an expose published by WND Books that revealed these and other violations by CAIR and triggered a federal investigation and audit.
As WND first reported in January 2010, CAIR's national office has failed to file financial records since 2007 as required by federal law. Registered as a 501(c)(3) organization, the group must detail its revenues and expenses to the IRS in annual reports known as form 990s to maintain its tax-exempt status.
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Under a new federal law, effective starting for tax years ending on or after Dec. 31, 2007, if an organization fails to file either Form 990-N, Form 990 or Form 990 EZ for three consecutive years, its tax-exempt status will automatically be revoked.
As a result, the IRS earlier this month purged CAIR from its list of tax-exempt organizations. Donations to the group are no longer tax-deductible, even though CAIR continues to claim on its website that contributions are deductible.
The gross delinquency raises new suspicions that CAIR – identified in a recent terror-finance case as a front group for Hamas – is concealing from the American public details about its already shadowy financial activities.
CAIR is a regular staple of the cable news programs where it claims to be a "Muslim-American civil rights group."
The Washington-based group receives millions of dollars in donations, pledges and other support from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other terror-tied Arab states, as revealed in the bestseller "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America."
As WND has reported, CAIR has filed a lawsuit against "Muslim Mafia" co-author P. David Gaubatz and his son, Chris, who collected thousands of pages of CAIR documents destined for a shredder while working as an intern.
CAIR's complaint asks a federal judge to expunge all copies of "Muslim Mafia". A lawyer defending the Gaubatzes says CAIR is attempting to eliminate evidence that could lead to criminal prosecution.
Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND and founder of WND Books, which published "Muslim Mafia," says "CAIR continues to think rules don't apply to them."
"CAIR filed suit against one of our authors without its attorneys noticing it was not even a valid corporation," he said. "The reason CAIR can afford to play fast and loose with the facts and the law is because of the way the media provide this terrorist front operation with open access to spew its lies and propaganda without accountability and by falsely billing CAIR as a 'Muslim civil rights group.' We'll see how many of their media friends bother to report that CAIR is still collecting tax-exempt donations despite losing its tax-exempt status."
The FBI has subpoenaed all the internal CAIR documents obtained by the authors of "Muslim Mafia."
Funding dries up
CAIR's grass-roots fundraising from Muslims in America has all but dried up in the wake of allegations the group is fronting for terrorists. CAIR must also report revenue from membership dues in its annual financial statements to the IRS.
"CAIR maintains an army of lawyers. There's no excuse for not filing three consecutive years of 990s. What's CAIR hiding?" asked terror analyst Paul Sperry, co-author of "Muslim Mafia."
Both CAIR and its outside auditor, Joey Musmar, declined comment.
Most of CAIR's 30 chapters have filed their 2007 returns, and many have filed their 2008 and 2009 tax forms. It's not clear why CAIR National has repeatedly failed to turn over its own financial records to the IRS.
CAIR in 2007 was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal scheme to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas suicide bombers and their families, prompting the FBI to cut off all outreach to the group.
"We do not have a relationship with CAIR. There are individuals in CAIR with whom we had issues with and continue to have issues with," FBI Director Robert Mueller testified earlier this year, specifically citing "concerns with regard to the national leadership."
His assistant, Richard Powers, earlier identified the individuals as "executives" currently working inside CAIR's national office in Washington, and the "issues" as the "connection" between the executives and the Hamas terrorist group. CAIR's current executive director is Nihad Awad. Powers confirmed the group and its leaders remain under FBI scrutiny.
CAIR has 15 months to seek reinstatement of its tax-exempt status. To do so, it must file the missing three annual 990 reports, along with a new application for exempt status. It also must explain the delay in filing the records. To waive separate IRS penalties, tax attorneys say, CAIR's national office must prove that "reasonable cause" and not "willful neglect" was behind its lengthy delay in filing.
Following the publication of "Muslim Mafia" in October 2009, several members of Congress asked the IRS to audit CAIR, citing evidence reported in the book.
"It has come to our attention that the Council on American-Islamic Relations may be in violation of both the anti-excessive lobbying provision of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 by their failure to register with Congress as a federal lobbying organization," wrote Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., John Shadegg, R-Ariz., Paul Broun, R-Ga., Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. in a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
The lawmakers cited an internal CAIR memo uncovered by "Muslim Mafia," which shows that in 2005, when Congress met for fewer than 150 days, CAIR by its own admission came to Capitol Hill no fewer than 72 separate occasions to lobby members of Congress to repeal the USA Patriot Act, which was passed overwhelming by Congress after 9/11 to help law enforcement crack down on Islamic terrorists.
"In other words," the lawmakers' pointed out in their letter, "half the days Congress was in session that year, CAIR was on the Hill lobbying against this piece of legislation."
According to "Muslim Mafia," CAIR is operating in the red as membership dues have plummeted to less than 1 percent of total revenues.
The group's national office reported revenues of more than $2.7 million in 2006, the latest IRS records available. Of that total, just $41,000 came from membership dues. In 2004, by comparison, dues totaled $119,000.
The bulk of the group's revenues comes from foreign donors, mainly in the Middle East.
Fundraising dinner donations have also fallen. And in 2006, CAIR reported an overall budget deficit of $161,000, after running a surplus of more than $338,000 in 2004.
'Front group' for Hamas
Recent terror charges have taken an additional toll on CAIR's membership and fundraising.
Citing new evidence emerging from a 2007 federal terror trial in which CAIR and its founding chairman were named as unindicted co-conspirators, the FBI cut formal outreach ties to CAIR's headquarters and all its branch offices.
The Obama administration has not lifted the ban on the organization, which was founded in 1994.
FBI agent Lara Burns testified at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas that CAIR is a "front group" for the Hamas terrorist organization, which has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians along with at least 17 Americans.
The Justice Department also listed CAIR as a member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood in America – parent of Hamas and al-Qaida, and the subject of the blockbuster "Muslim Mafia."
A federal judge denied CAIR's request to remove its criminal co-conspirator designation in the Holy Land case. In an appellate decision, a three-judge panel admonished the Justice Department for making the designation public, but did not order it expunged.
According to a June 2009 ACLU report, "Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity: Chilling Muslim Charitable Giving in the 'War on Terrorism Financing," CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, for one, has suffered a precipitous drop in contributions since the government's blacklisting of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator.
The ACLU reports the chapter president, Moufa Nahhas, saying the following:
"Contributions to CAIR have gone down, so we can hire fewer people, can run fewer activities. People are afraid to come to events. Mosques are also hesitant to open the doors to us, to the organization. In Richardson (Texas, the headquarters of the Holy Land Foundation), the mosque doesn't even want the administration of CAIR to come and pray there, because of fear. ...
"People don't want to serve on the board. They say they support us and want to help, but they don't want to be named as a member of the board. People don't want a letter or newsletter from CAIR coming to their house they don't want their name on the mailings."
CAIR's national office is also struggling financially. In fact, it has had to rent out one of the floors of its headquarters building, located within three blocks of the U.S. Capitol, to an outside tenant, according to "Muslim Mafia."
"There's no way to soften this: We need financial help," pleaded CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad in an appeal for money posted on the group's website in November 2009 after it s annual fundraising dinner fell short of its goals for donations.
"Now is the time to send in a generous donation, become a CAIR member or renew your membership," CAIR said in an "Action" item sent to Muslims before its October fundraiser, which was held just a week after a congressional press conference announcing an investigation into CAIR's lobbying activities based on the findings in "Muslim Mafia."
Insiders say the negative publicity has scared away some of CAIR's regular donors, including the UAE Embassy – which along with several other Muslim embassies, disappeared from the list of supporters at CAIR's 2009 fundraising banquet in Washington.
"How is CAIR funded?" asked former Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, now president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington. "The Departments of Justice and Treasury know that CAIR has received foreign contributions in the thousands and even millions, since Steve Emerson, Paul Sperry, Joe Kaufman, Andrew Whitehead, the Department of Justice prosecutors, the mainstream U.S. and Arabic press and others have publicized those foreign donations and pledges for over a decade.
"At their website, CAIR encourages foreign embassies to purchase tables at their fundraisers," he added. "Even this foreign support has declined as CAIR's power has faded."
Political support for CAIR even among liberal Democrats also is waning. Between 2006 and 2009, members of Congress attending CAIR's annual fundraiser fell from 23 to four.
And more and more Muslim-Americans are distancing themselves from the group.
According to CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, "CAIR has some 50,000 members," when in fact the organization has precisely 5,133 members – or a tenth of the figure Hooper claims– according to "Muslim Mafia," which cites an internal CAIR report prepared for a June 2007 executive staff meeting.
"Muslim Mafia" also presents evidence that Hooper has misled Washington reporters about the source of most of CAIR's financial support.
Hooper has repeatedly denied that CAIR receives foreign support, insisting it's a "grass-roots" nonprofit organization. In CAIR press releases, he has stated, unequivocally: "We do not support directly or indirectly or receive support from any overseas group or government."
However, smoking-gun video footage obtained during the Gaubatzes' six-month covert investigation of CAIR puts the lie to Hooper's claims.
In a private conversation with undercover researcher Chris Gaubatz, who was posing at the time as a CAIR intern, Hooper boasted that he personally can "bring (in) a half million of overseas money" a year, adding: "If some guy's got a lot of extra money in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), I don't mind taking it."
Hooper made the remarks Aug. 30, 2008, during the Islamic Society of North America's 2008 annual convention in Columbus, Ohio.
A State Department cable citing Hooper by name, moreover, directly contradicts Hooper's denials about foreign support, according to "Muslim Mafia," which exposes the secret inner workings of CAIR, among other radical Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America.
The sensitive but unclassified communique was written by U.S. Embassy staff in Saudi Arabia, who in June 2006 reported the following after meeting with a CAIR delegation: "One admitted reason for the group's current visit to the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) was to solicit $50 million in governmental and non-governmental contributions."
"(Saudi) King Abdullah knows CAIR very well," the cable added.
Among other things, CAIR said the money would be used to "counter negative stereotypes about Muslims in the U.S." media, a phenomenon described by CAIR as "Islamophobia."
The core delegation, according to the cable, consisted of Hooper, CAIR chief Awad and then-CAIR Chairman Parvez Ahmed. Besides Riyadh, the trio also visited Mecca and Jeddah.
Just three months after the trip, Hooper denied soliciting Saudi government funds.
"To my knowledge, we don't take money from the government of Saudi Arabia," he said in a September 2006 appearance on MSNBC's Tucker Carlson show.
CAIR in January 2007 prepared a secret "strategy" memo launching what the "Muslim Mafia" authors call a hostile influence operation against Congress to undermine homeland security and anti-terror efforts.
The memo states that CAIR would try to "influence" the intelligence committees, along with committees dealing with homeland security and justice, while placing interns in "congressional offices."
CAIR has been successful in both endeavors, using Mideast funds free of taxation in the process.
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