On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced the death of Islamic State (ISIS) caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. While Americans celebrated the demise of this Islamist terrorist — who had brutally murdered many Muslims, Christians, homosexuals, and more — the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which bills itself as America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, remained strangely silent.
A PJ Media review of CAIR’s Twitter account and press releases found many tweets and press statements drawing attention to CAIR’s upcoming gala but not a single mention of Baghdadi’s death. Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, has not tweeted in about a week. The organization has not responded to PJ Media’s request for comment.
This seems particularly strange, given that even Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — an outspoken Muslim congresswoman who works closely with CAIR — publicly celebrated Baghdadi’s death. “Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was an evil man and a terrorist, who terrorized the world with violence and a message of hate. The world is a safer place without him,” Omar tweeted. “We have deep gratitude for the brave men and women who carried out this dangerous operation.”
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was an evil man and a terrorist, who terrorized the world with violence and a message of hate.
The world is a safer place without him.
We have deep gratitude for the brave men and women who carried out this dangerous operation.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 27, 2019
M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim reformer who is founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), drew attention to two statements shared by local CAIR leaders. Jasser, who fights Islamism and sharia supremacy, champions American-style freedoms and the separation of mosque and state. He noticed an anti-American trend in the local CAIR statements and a tendency to whitewash the Islamist roots of the Islamic State.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director at CAIR Greater Los Angeles, used Baghdadi’s death as an opportunity to … blame America and Israel for terrorism.
“The death of Al-Baghdadi will reduce terrorism, but not end it. Here’s how we end it,” Ayloush began. “Baghdadi’s terror career started in a U.S. torture prison after an illegal and immoral U.S. invasion of Iraq. Baghdadi’s terrorism, for the most part, harmed the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and others and their struggle for freedom. His ISIS terrorism served all the repressive governments that opposed freedom and democracy in that region.”
Ayloush warned that “unless the root cause of the problem is addressed, bloody symptoms such as Baghdadi, Bin Laden, and Joulani [a Syrian terrorist leader] will continue to surface and cause mayhem on innocent people. The root cause is the tyranny and abuses brought down by the autocratic regimes of people like Assad, Sisi, MBS, MBZ, Khamenei, and other dictators and by Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies against the people of that region.”
He warned that terrorism can only be eliminated when Western governments “stop supporting, funding, arming, and protecting such despotic regimes and their practices,” a status quo which involves “the brutal suppression of Muslims and Islam’s universal social justice order (driven by centuries of Western Islamophobia).”
That Islamic “universal social justice order” might be a reference to sharia (Islamic law), and a desire to see governments in the region enshrine Islamic religious law as civil law. While Ayloush and CAIR interpret sharia differently than the Islamic State, this sharia supremacism actually inspired Baghdadi and ISIS to carry out their acts of terrorism. The Islamic State was an attempt to unite Islamic lands under Baghdadi as caliph — who claimed to be the successor to Mohammed — and create a government run by sharia.
Yet Ayloush was not the only local CAIR leader to address Baghdadi’s death. CAIR-Arizona Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi retweeted a long statement from Huthaifa Shqeirat (son of the senior imam of the Phoenix, Ariz.-area mosque), in which Shqeirat also blamed America for Baghdadi’s radicalism.
“Baghdadi was not a Caliph; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. A demon molded by the cruelty of US soldiers in Abu Ghraib and then set loose to terrorize the local population. As he was killing Muslims, those who created him kept pointing the finger of blame at his victims,” Shqeirat tweeted. He dismissed those who call Baghdadi a “product of Islam” as “fools,” saying the would-be caliph was not a “Muslim scholar.”
“Bin Laden and Baghdadi are merely symptoms, and unless we seriously address the role of the US in cultivating environments that facilitate the growth and development of terrorism, we will relive this entire cycle again and again, with a worse villain each and every time,” Shqeirat concluded.
“Even when they speak up, they blame America,” Jasser told PJ Media. “I think it’s because their narrative is to blame America for Baghdadi, so their default is to say nothing.”
‘They don’t see ISIS for what it is — a natural manifestation of Islamism, Salafi-Jihadism, and Caliphism,” Jasser added. The messages from local CAIR leaders also confirm “their disgust for America and grotesque penchant to conspiratorially blame America for our own sharia supremacism.”
“They are so deeply anti-American that they can’t even celebrate a victory of the death of the greatest stain on Muslims in the world at the hands of American patriots,” the Muslim reformer told PJ Media. “Instead they again spew a narrative that further radicalized Muslims instead of proclaiming victory of good over evil. They basically claim that we are the source of the evil. That is Islamism.”
“That response is classic ‘Ikhwani,’ the Muslim Brotherhood ‘avoidance’ response to dealing with the Salafi-jihadists like al-Qaeda and ISIS, from which they are ideologically upstream,” Jasser concluded.
CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-funding case, and wiretap surveillance reportedly captured proof that CAIR’s original mission was to assist “Sister Samah,” which the government claimed was its founder’s code-name for Hamas. CAIR opened its first office with a $5,000 grant from the Holy Land Foundation.
CAIR claims that the unindicted co-conspirator label is misleading and that it does not maintain connections to Hamas or any other terror group. This Muslim organization’s advocacy is notably different from the extreme positions of Islamist groups like Hamas — CAIR champions LGBT people while under Hamas homosexuality is punishable by death, for instance.
However, CAIR’s silence on the death of Baghdadi is troubling, as is the trend of local CAIR leaders condemning America rather than addressing the Islamist roots of ISIS.
CAIR’s history of attempting to silence critics is also troubling. Joining with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), CAIR has pressured charities to blacklist conservative nonprofits falsely branded “anti-Muslim hate groups.” Early this month, CAIR and the SPLC pressured Mar-a-Lago into canceling an event with ACT for America, an organization Jasser and other Muslim reformers gladly partner with in the fight against Islamism. After that success, CAIR launched a second campaign against the Center for Security Policy.
Muslims should follow the lead of Zuhdi Jasser in condemning sharia supremacy, rather than blaming America for the terrorist leader who died in a raid carried out by U.S. troops. American foreign policy blunders did allow for the rise of ISIS, but Muslims cannot overlook the Islamist inspiration of this terrorist group.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.