The AP is responding to repeated requests by CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, which presents itself as moderate but acts as a front for extremists. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. Evidence also connects CAIR to Hamas, which was designated a terrorist group by the US in 1995.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism:
Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and trial exhibits show the Brotherhood created the Palestine Committee. CAIR officials adamantly deny any involvement with either Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. The Weich letter, however, shows that the Department of Justice has not wavered in its conclusion that the internal records it possesses prove a connection.
It echoes a letter last spring from an FBI congressional liaison explaining why Bureau policy bars communication with CAIR outside of a criminal investigation. In that letter, Richard C. Powers, an assistant director in the FBI’s office of Congressional Affairs, said evidence “demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders (including its current President Emeritus and its Executive Director) and the Palestine Committee.”
Other exhibits showed that the Palestine Committee was a fundraising and propaganda arm in the United States for Hamas, which has been a designated terrorist organization since 1995. “[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS,” Powers wrote, “the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”
Prior to the change, the AP’s definition of “Islamist” was:
Supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.
It was used to describe both militant, violent actors and those who eschew violence. The AP’s definition of “Islamist” now reads:
An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists.
Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.
There’s nothing wrong with getting specific, but the new definition draws distinctions between ideological and militant groups that have little bearing in the real world. The Muslim Brotherhood gave rise to al Qaeda and Hamas, and the latter gave rise to CAIR, which according to FBI evidence acts as Hamas’ fundraising and propaganda arm in the US. The Muslim Brotherhood is officially non-violent, but now that it has taken power in Egypt, Islamist violence against Christians and other Muslims is on the rise in that country.
CAIR is happy with the update, but would be less happy if the AP reported that its chairman, Ibrahim Hooper, has said that Muslims would seek to replace the US Constitution with Islamic sharia law if they ever became a majority. That comment and others he has made make him an Islamist by either of the AP’s definitions.