Bankrolled by same wealthy Saudi prince, CAIR now regular guest on cable leader
Long a reliably patriotic media source in the war on terror, Fox News may now be among news outlets who have fallen under the spell of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ propaganda machine.
“We own the media,” CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper privately brags, according to a source currently working inside the aggressive Islamist lobby group.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last week invited the TV-savvy Hooper on his show to debate passenger profiling, the second guest appearance by the CAIR spokesman in a month. At the end of the segment, O’Reilly thanked Hooper and called him a “stand-up guy,” sending shockwaves through the conservative blogosphere.
CAIR is no ordinary guest. The government has blacklisted it as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator, and the group remains under criminal suspicion by the FBI, which has cut off outreach ties to it.
Congress and the IRS also are investigating CAIR, which has had no fewer than 15 executives and board members convicted or implicated in terror probes, including its founding chairman.
In addition, CAIR’s very existence as a legitimate corporation has been challenged in a lawsuit in federal court.
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Given CAIR’s proven ties to terrorism – which O’Reilly failed to mention – why would Fox offer the group’s top executives a virtually uncritical forum on prime-time cable TV? Saudi Arabian money may be a factor.
It turns out that the same billionaire Saudi prince who owns a major stake in Fox’s parent company also bankrolls Washington-based CAIR. And sensitive State Department records reveal Hooper – despite his repeated public denials – has personally solicited cash from the prince and other members of the ruling Saudi royal family during recent trips to the kingdom.
The common financial bond between Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and Fox, and between bin Talal and CAIR, raises questions not only about Fox News’s independence, but about the truthfulness of CAIR’s top spokesman.
Hooper repeatedly has denied that CAIR receives foreign support, insisting it’s a “grass-roots” nonprofit organization. In CAIR press releases, Hooper 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 a recent 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 the blockbuster book “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which exposes the secret inner workings of CAIR, among other radical Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America. (The book is based, in part, on voluminous documentary and videotaped evidence gathered by Gaubatz during his internship.)
The sensitive but unclassified communiqué 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 Executive Director Nihad 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.
At a meeting held that year at the Saudi headquarters of the kingdom-run World Assembly of Muslim Youth – whose U.S. branch was formerly run by Osama bin Laden’s nephew – CAIR announced the launch of a massive PR campaign and warned potential donors that the U.S. was trying to curtail the political activity of Muslims.
Awad, with Hooper at his side, said CAIR needed a well-funded endowment to change American opinion. He proposed spending $10 million annually for five years on the media campaign.
“We are planning to meet Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal for his financial support to our project,” Awad told the Arab press. “He has been generous in the past.”
Indeed, the Saudi prince donated at least $500,000 to CAIR after 9/11. He also presented a $10 million relief check to then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – or at least he tried. Giuliani rejected the gift after bin Talal blamed America’s “pro-Israel” policies in the Middle East for the attacks.
Prince Bin Talal’s voting stake
Bin Talal, a member of the Saudi ruling family, owns a 5.5 percent voting stake in Fox News’ parent News Corp., run by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The prince has said he is willing to increase his share in Fox’s parent to fend off hostile takeover bids by rivals. Murdoch, in turn, has invested in bin Talal’s Saudi-based enterprises.
It is not immediately clear if bin Talal has influenced Fox’s decision to book CAIR. But there is strong evidence that bin Talal has directly influenced Fox News content in the past.
As WND reported, during violent street protests involving Muslim immigrants in France in 2005, the Saudi prince persuaded Murdoch to change a screen banner that identified the unrest as “Muslim riots.”
“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty,” bin Talal said. “Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from ‘Muslim riots’ to ‘civil riots.’ “
Fox News has acknowledged it changed the banner after receiving complaints from unnamed Muslims abroad. It has not denied bin Talal’s influence in its internal operations.
Bin Talal isn’t the only member of the ruling Saudi elite bankrolling CAIR.
Bank wire records published exclusively in “Muslim Mafia” show another Saudi royal family member has pumped six-figure sums into CAIR coffers. In 2007, for example, Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad transferred $112,000 directly into CAIR’s bank account at Citibank.
The Saudi bank transfers further undermine the official line peddled by Hooper, who has a reputation for dissembling.
Longtime CAIR critic Andrew Whitehead, for one, calls him “CAIR’s liar-for-hire,” and argues he cannot be trusted as a media spokesman. CAIR sued Whitehead for defamation and lost.
“The record shows CAIR habitually engages in deception,” said terror expert Steven Emerson, executive director of the “Investigative Project on Terrorism” and author of “Jihad Inc.”
In 2003, for example, CAIR accused WND of “demonizing Muslims” for citing a Bay Area newspaper’s report that CAIR’s then-chairman, Omar Ahmad, told a gathering of Muslims that Islam was in America to dominate and that the Quran would one day rule over America. In a phone interview, Hooper insisted to WND that CAIR had sought a retraction from the newspaper. But Hooper was forced to backtrack when confronted with the fact that the editors and reporter had just declared they never spoke with CAIR and, furthermore, stood by the story.
Despite CAIR’s dubious reputation, Fox has recently given Hooper and other top CAIR leaders an unchallenged platform to persuade the American public to back off passenger profiling and other measures to counter an ominous upswing in terrorism.
Since the Fort Hood terrorist attack by a Muslim Army officer, CAIR’s leaders have been invited on Fox at least four times, even though there are several other Muslim groups considered genuinely moderate who could speak for the Muslim community, such as the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
“The issue,” Emerson said, “is whether CAIR is an honest and reliable broker for American Muslims.”
Hooper was invited on “The O’Reilly Factor” twice to shoot down profiling following the attempted airline attack by a Muslim would-be suicide bomber who concealed explosives in his underwear. In both appearances, Hooper – looking less fundamentalist without his trademark kufi skull cap – was given a full segment unopposed and unanswered by other guests.
In the wake of the Fort Hood attack, CAIR chief Awad was invited on Fox, and in an interview with Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum, Awad denied Islam had anything to do with the deadly massacre – even though it was known at the time that the shooter was Muslim and had yelled “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire. Awad also got a full segment unopposed.
Free spin on Fox
Most recently, CAIR’s chief lobbyist Corey Saylor appeared on Fox New during an interview with anchor Bill Hemmer. Fox did not balance Saylor with an opposing guest to challenge the CAIR spokesman during his full segment, in which he contended young Muslim men are no more “security threats” than 85-year-old grandmothers.
Washington recently added Saudi Arabia – CAIR’s patron – to a list of 14 mostly Muslim nations whose travelers will undergo extra airport security screening. Saylor slammed the new Obama administration policy as “across-the-board profiling” and complained “Muslims will pay the price for this one.”
At no time during any of the four appearances by CAIR leaders did Fox bring up the fact that the FBI has cut off ties to CAIR or that the Justice Department has blacklisted the group as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator – information critical to the public’s understanding of CAIR’s possible bias in delinking terrorism from Islam and arguing against Islamic terrorist profiling.
Curiously, even O’Reilly of “no-spin zone” fame failed to so much as hint at the many controversies surrounding CAIR in his introduction of Hooper.
O’Reilly also let Hooper get away with a glaring falsehood during his most recent appearance.
Hooper maintained CAIR does not share al-Qaida’s “talking point” that America and the West are “at war with Islam.” Yet after the Iraq war, CAIR’s chairman declared: “The United States is at war with Islam itself.”
Detractors say the misleading statement is yet another example of CAIR’s deceptive tactics, which should give the media pause before booking CAIR representatives as the official voice of Muslim Americans.
Investigative journalist Paul Sperry, co-author of “Muslim Mafia,” says giving CAIR’s leaders a media platform is “like giving Hamas and the terrorist enemy a platform.”
He notes that while CAIR may bill itself as a “civil-rights advocacy group,” the FBI says that far from being a benign nonprofit, it’s an American front group for Hamas terrorists and the radical Muslim Brotherhood – the parent of both Hamas and al-Qaida. The bureau last year cut off formal ties to CAIR’s national office in Washington and all 30 of its branch offices across the country.
CAIR at the time blamed its ban on the “right-wing” Bush administration and confidently predicted that a Democrat administration would restore relations. Yet fully a year into the Obama administration, CAIR remains frozen out of any formal outreach with the FBI.
“Even the Muslim-friendly Obama has not helped CAIR,” Sperry pointed out.
At the same time, the Justice Department has blacklisted CAIR as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in the largest terror finance case in U.S. history, against the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation. The trial ended in convictions on all 108 counts.
Prosecutors have also connected CAIR directly to the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement that seeks to institutionalize Saudi-style Shariah law in America and the West through immigration, coercion and political infiltration.
“From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists,” assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg stated in a court filing.
Sperry says “that makes CAIR mouthpiece Hooper an advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorists, and a fiercely effective one at that.”
He adds that the Saudis and CAIR’s other Arab patrons pay him well for it – more than $95,000 a year in total compensation, IRS records show.
Who is ‘Dougie’ Hooper?
He also commands a six-figure annual budget for conducting opposition research against CAIR’s enemies – which internal documents revealed in “Muslim Mafia” include, ironically, Fox’s O’Reilly and other “right-wing” media personalities.
A Canadian immigrant, the 53-year-old Hooper was known as “Dougie” before he converted to Islam. His birth name is Cary Douglas Hooper, according to government records.
He became a member of the Cairo Foreign Press Association while working for periodicals in the Egyptian capital, the global headquarters of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Hooper also worked for local TV stations in Minnesota, where he once let it slip out that he favored Islamic rule in America.
“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future,” Hooper said in a 1993 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”
“This is Hooper’s real agenda,” Sperry said, “make no mistake.”
In an October interview with CNN, Hooper denied charges of Middle Eastern influence-peddling: “We have no ties of any kind to any foreign group in any form.”
However, CAIR is on record promising to do the bidding of its Arab backers.
In 2006, shortly after a company owned by the United Arab Emirates lost a controversial bid to take over control of several major U.S. ports, Awad, Hooper and other CAIR officials traveled to the UAE to meet with its rulers.
It was agreed that the UAE would set up an endowment in the U.S. run by CAIR to fund an “education” program to change negative perceptions about Islam that the UAE believes contributed to the public outcry that derailed its multibillion-dollar ports deal.
The endowment caught the attention of the U.S. government, which issued another sensitive State Department cable regarding the unusual deal.
It noted UAE Minister of Finance Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum endorsed a proposal to build a $24 million property in the U.S. to serve as an endowment for CAIR to launch its $50 million image-building campaign through 2011.
“The endowment will serve as a source of income,” Awad told the Arab press at the time, “and will further allow us to reinvigorate our media campaign projecting Islam and its principles of tolerance.”
CAIR is working out details of its endowment with the Dubai-based Al-Maktoum Foundation, founded and controlled by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. The anti-Israeli charity has held telethons to support families of Palestinian suicide bombers and other so-called “martyrs.” Not surprisingly, the Arab press reported CAIR “values highly the stances of Al-Maktoum Charity Foundation.”
After 9/11, the Al-Maktoum Foundation took a nearly $1 million stake in CAIR’s headquarters property, just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, as first reported by Sperry in his 2005 book, “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”
‘Selling its services’
The United Arab Emirates fears if its image is not repaired, its business interests will continue on a downward slide in America. CAIR’s leaders, who promised to act as a bulwark against any further backlash, described the planned $50 million endowment as more of a business contract than charity.
“Do not think about your contributions (to CAIR) as donations. Think about it from the perspective of rate of return,” former CAIR chairman Ahmed told finance ministers in Dubai, according to the Arab press.
“The investment of $50 million will give you billions of dollars in return for 50 years” if a sufficiently Arab-friendly environment can be created in America to allow sheiks to buy up key U.S. assets, he said.
CAIR critic Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, says the group is “selling its services to the Saudi and UAE governments by doing their ideological and financial bidding.”
Yet CAIR is not registered as a foreign agent, as required by the Justice Department. And it has never disclosed its foreign funding or relationships with countries tied to 9/11 and potentially still hostile to U.S. interests.
According to the U.S. Embassy cable, CAIR has other wealthy Emirate benefactors as well, including: the Bin Hamoodah Group, a $500 million-a-year trading company; and wealthy stock trader Talal Khoori, a UAE national of Iranian origin who is said to have donated $1 million to CAIR.
It’s plain that, notwithstanding Hooper’s denials, CAIR’s major funding comes from foreign sources largely in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE – two nations that formally recognized and supported the Taliban rule in Afghanistan – and not from grass-roots domestic supporters as Hooper and CAIR publicly claim.
In fact, membership dues now account for a tiny 1 percent of CAIR’s total revenue, according to IRS records cited in “Muslim Mafia.” As CAIR’s domestic grass-roots support has dried up, it has stepped up its overseas fundraising efforts. Tax records show its travel budget for fundraising purposes has doubled since 2004.
Awad makes frequent pilgrimages to the Gulf to personally solicit funds. And he’s often joined by Hooper, who over the years has obtained several passports and is described by government officials as a “heavy traveler,” according to “Muslim Mafia.”
CAIR’s board recently proposed hiring an “international events manager” to help coordinate all the fundraising and other foreign activities. It has even created a special committee on “international affairs” headed by Awad to help tailor its pro-Arab message to American policymakers.
The amount of the UAE’s pledge toward the $50 million CAIR endowment is undisclosed. But it’s hardly the only Arab government funding it.
According to CAIR board meeting notes, revealed in “Muslim Mafia,” a Washington PR firm used by the Emirates – Hill and Knowlton – has put together a “business plan” to help CAIR raise money from other Gulf states.
“The UAE ambassador is willing to gather all ambassadors of the Gulf Cooperating Council to listen to a presentation,” Awad reported to the board. “In return, hopefully they will write to their respective people to ask for support.”
The six-member Gulf Cooperating Council was set up by the Saudis as a regional common market that includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
Investing in CAIR means having a reliable lobby for Arab interests in Washington, critics say.
“CAIR’s leaders have clearly stated their intention to use Arab funds to promote Arab interests in America, even though CAIR is not a registered foreign agent or even lobbyist,” Sperry said, adding that the interests of Saudi Arabia and the UAE – two nations tied to 9/11 – are more often than not at odds with those of America.
“Is O’Reilly aware of this?” Sperry asks, “And if he is, why does he withhold this critical information from his viewers when he books CAIR spinmeisters on his show?”
After the FBI in 2008 severed ties to CAIR, citing court evidence that its leaders were participating in an “ongoing” conspiracy to support terrorists, Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York requested that the FBI’s anti-CAIR ban be made “government-wide policy.”
“I would second that, and add an anti-CAIR ban in the media,” Sperry said. “Of all people, Fox should know better than to give the enemy voice. There are other legitimately moderate Muslim voices out there who can better speak for the broader Muslim community, and they aren’t hard to find. Why Fox keeps going back to CAIR really makes one wonder about the influence Saudi money is having at Fox.”