By Jennifer Riley
CBS reportedly told a gay dating site that its proposed Super Bowl ad would be reviewed for possible airing and would be considered if a spot becomes available.
ManCrunch.com submitted a 30-second commercial to CBS on Jan. 18 and, as of Jan. 22, CBS reportedly said “the spot hadn’t been officially approved yet” by the network standards and that all spots for the big game on Feb. 7 had been sold out, according to Fox News. But CBS agreed to consider running the ad if an advertiser dropped out.
The ad involves two men watching the Super Bowl when their hands touch as they reach into a chip bowl. The two men then begin to kiss each other as another man sitting nearby watches in shock.
In response to the purported ad, a spokesperson for the conservative pro-family group American Family Association said it would be “totally irresponsible” of the network to air the ad during the most watched TV program of the year.
“CBS should not put parents in the position of answering embarrassing and awkward questions from their children while they’re just trying to enjoy a football game,” said Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, in a statement Thursday. “CBS should quit dithering around and reject this ad out of hand.”
In addition to pressure from pro-family groups, CBS is also coming under fire from pro-choice groups for approving an ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mom, Pam.
Though the exact content of the ad has not been revealed, many are speculating that it will recount Pam Tebow’s refusal to have an abortion while she was pregnant with Tim despite having suffered from a life-threatening infection at the time.
Focus on the Family, which produced the ad, said earlier this month that Pam Tebow would share a personal story centered on the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”
“The Tebows said they agreed to appear in the commercial because the issue of life is one they feel very strongly about,” Focus on the Family reported.
“Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive,” added Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly.
Focus on the Family’s Super Bowl ad, which still needs to receive final confirmation, will be Christian group’s first Super Bowl commercial.
Super Bowl broadcasts are typically viewed by over 90 million people each year.
This year’s Super Bowl, which pits the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints, will kick off at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 7.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback says he stands up for what he believes. Even so, the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad against abortion threatens to politicize ‘Super Sunday’ and turn some fans and NFL coaches against him.
By Patrik Jonsson
In a historic career at the University of Florida, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow has kept his faith and his convictions confined mostly to a few square inches beneath his eyes: Every Saturday, he would write a Biblical citation on his eye black.
Now, at the very moment when his hope of becoming a pro football quarterback hangs in the balance, Tim Tebow is taking on perhaps the single most divisive topic in America – abortion – in an advertisement set to air during the single most-watched television program of the year: the Super Bowl.
For a handsome and humble young man, who has become revered throughout much of the South for his devoutness as well as his on-field skill, it is an astonishingly bold decision. In the 30-second ad against abortion, he will speak from his own experience of how his mother did not abort him despite medical advice to do so.
Abortion-rights groups are already calling for the ad’s removal, saying that the group behind the ad is “anti-woman” and “anti-equality.” Online chatter is expressing an unease about Tebow’s willingness to infuse Super Bowl Sunday – an apolitical American rite – with politics. And, perhaps most concerning for Tebow himself, pro football teams already skeptical of his ability to transition to the National Football League might see this as further reason to avoid him on draft day.
“I do stand up for what I believe,” Tebow told Sports Illustrated last summer. “And at least you can respect that.”
Raised on a farm outside Jacksonville, Fla., by the son of an evangelist preacher and a mom who home-schooled him, Tebow is an amalgam of charismatic leader, world-class athlete, and devout Christian Southern boy. His faith resonates among fans in the Deep South.
But by targeting the Super Bowl, his “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life” ad ranges far beyond the familiar confines of the conservative South. Fans and coaches in the NFL might resent him for pushing a cultural message on a day usually reserved for quarterback matchups and halftime extravaganzas.
“We’re going down a road here that is filled with potholes, moral and otherwise,” writes Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz, suggesting that the ad could lead to more advocacy ads, which Super Bowl broadcaster CBS has said it will consider.
The ad, funded by the Focus on the Family organization, is expected to tell the story of Tebow and his mother, Pam. Ill while pregnant with Tim, Pam refused suggestions to abort her son. Those who have seen the ad describe it as “uplifting.”
“I asked God for a preacher, and he gave me a quarterback,” Tebow’s dad, Bob, has famously said about the trying pregnancy.
The appropriate venue?
But various groups, including the National Organization for Women, have called for CBS to withdraw the ad. They say that both the ad’s advocacy content, as well as the group behind it are unacceptable. So far, CBS has said it intends to run the ad.
“This un-American hate doesn’t have a place in this all-American pastime,” Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, told Fox News.
Tebow has for years had to walk the line between the conviction of his faith and open proselytizing. But the ad comes at a crossroads for Tebow. Professional scouts have said Tebow’s throwing motion and skill-set are poorly suited for the NFL, and his preparations for the upcoming Senior Bowl, which offers coaches a first up-close look at college prospects, haven’t gone well so far this week.
“The anti-abortion ad that he’s in that will possibly run during the Super Bowl will likely create an uproar for him as well that some teams might not want to get involved in,” writes Mark Miller on Yahoo! Sports.
Yet it is the timing of his ad – and not necessarily the content – that could knock Tebow down a few notches among NFL fans. Indeed, a May 2009 Gallup poll found that, for the first time since the poll began in 1995, more Americans are anti-abortion than pro-abortion rights. But timing is everything.
“There are going to be about 100 million of us who won’t be happy for 30 seconds of the Super Bowl,” writes CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel. “I’m not complaining about the ad because it’s anti-abortion and I’m not. I’m complaining about the ad because it’s pro-politics. And I’m not. Not on Super Sunday.”
Outspoken Christian Quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement from the National Football League on Friday, thanking God for the opportunities he received both on and off the field.
“As always, as it started in 1999 when I was up on the podium holding up a trophy, the first thing I want to do is give thanks to God,” Warner said during a press conference in Tempe, Ariz., referring to his widely-heard shot out to the Almighty following his Super Bowl win with the St. Louis Rams.
“My Lord Jesus brought me here. I know he brought me here for a purpose. And it’s been an amazing ride,” he added.
Though Hall of Fame-bound Warner stands out as one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history – with an impressive list of achievements that includes three MVP awards, a Super Bowl win, and the second-highest completion percentage in NFL history – Warner is most noted for his King David-esque rise to stardom, which was twice witnessed.
Not only did Warner go from stocking shelves at a grocery store in 1994 to a winning a Super Bowl in 2000, he also returned to the spotlight after his time appeared to be up, leading the Arizona Cardinals to the franchises’ first-ever Super Bowl in 2009.
“I don’t think I could have dreamt out that it would have played out as it had. But I’ve been humbled everyday that I’ve woke up for the last 12 years and amazed that God would choose to use me to do what He’s given me the opportunity to do over 12 years,” Warner said Friday.
But the one-time Super Bowl MVP made it clear that the opportunities he was given were not only on the football field. For him, it’s not just about the successes and the Super Bowls and the wins and the losses.
“[I]t’s also been the opportunities that He (God)’s given to me off the football field,” Warner stated.
Since his rise to stardom, Warner has been a featured speaker across the country for numerous churches, non-profit organizations, men’s conferences, and corporate events.
Warner’s work both on and off the field, meanwhile, resulted in him being awarded the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2008 and the Muhammad Ali Sports Leadership Award in 2009. Warner was also selected by USA Weekend as the winner of its annual Most Caring Athlete Award for 2009 and, just last month, topped a Sports Illustrated poll of NFL players to name the best role model on and off the field in the NFL.
First Things First Foundation, a non-profit public charity that he and his wife established in 2001, has been involved with numerous projects for causes such as children’s hospitals, people with developmental disabilities and assisting single parents.
“So I hope that when people think back over my career – maybe it’s just over the next couple of weeks as they reflect on it or maybe it’s years to come – that that’s what they remember more than anything else,” Warner said Friday.
“Not the way I threw the football, not particular games that I won. But that they remember that here’s a guy that believed, that worked hard, and – although things didn’t always go in his favor – he continued to press through. And with his faith in himself and with his faith in God, he was able to accomplish great things,” he concluded.
As for his future plans, Warner said earlier at the press conference that he’s just as excited about the next 12 years as he has the past “12 unbelievable years – 12 of the best years of my life.”
“I’m excited about what lies in front of me. I’m excited about spending more time with my family and seeing what God’s going to do next,” he reported.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Warner will keep his charitable foundation going, perhaps do some speaking, writing, ministry work, and maybe some football analyst work on TV or radio.
First Things First Foundation, which draws its name from Warner’s famed post-Super Bowl response in 2000, is dedicated to impacting lives by promoting Christian values, sharing experiences and providing opportunities “to encourage everyone that all things are possible when people seek to put first things first.”
The charity’s guiding principle is Matthew 6:33, which states “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
North Korea ratcheted up tensions with the South after firing an estimated 30 shells into the two countries’ no-sail zone, which may be a precursor to the testing of short-range missiles.
Seoul, South Korea
By Donald Kirk
North Korea raised the stakes Wednesday in the fight-talk contest for advantage in negotiations with live-fire artillery exercises that once again put tensions on edge between the two Koreas.
In a risky game of punch and counterpunch, North Korean gunners opened the episode in the morning by firing off 30 rounds into the Yellow Sea off the Korean west coast, judging from the number of geysers of water reportedly kicked up in the sea where they landed. South Korea responded with as many as 100 warning shots, according to South Korean defense officials, while the South’s Defense Ministry protested in a faxed message to the North.
The contest resumed in the afternoon with the North firing another dozen or so rounds after asserting its right to stage “exercises” in waters long disputed by the two Koreas. This time, however, the South did not fire warning shots – apparently in hopes of tamping down tensions while pursuing talks on issues ranging from the North’s nuclear program to resumption of tourism.
The shootout dramatized the dangers in troubled waters while North Korea pursues a peace treaty to mark a formal ending to the Korean War that broke out nearly 60 years ago.
North Korea earlier declared the area a no-sail zone, telling ships to stay away during test-firing.
The North Korean warning suggested that the North might plan to test short-range missiles, as it has done in the past, but the firing Wednesday was limited to artillery. Unlike in previous tests, however, the shells landed close to the “northern limit line” (NLL) set by the UN Command in 1956 three years after the Korean War, below which North Korean vessels are banned.
The General Staff of the North Korea’s Korean People’s army said the firing was part of an annual drill, that it had every right to stage live-fire exercises – and may go on doing so. South Korea’s defense ministry called the artillery exercise “a grave provocation” and demanded North Korea rescind the no-sail warning.
North Korea has repeatedly repudiated the NLL, and the area was the scene of bloody shootouts in June 1999 and in June 2002 when a number of sailors on both sides were killed. In the most recent previous incident, on November 10, a North Korean vessel retreated in flames after South Korean ships fired on it when it strayed across the line.
This time there were no reports of casualties, but South Korean officials worried that the firing was a sign of a two-track strategy in which North Korea has appeared interested in negotiations but has engaged in harsh rhetoric against South Korea.
North Korea “has been blowing hot and cold,” says Wi Sung Lac, the South’s chief nuclear envoy, back from four days of talks in Washington last weekend.
North Korea accused South Korea of making “an open declaration of war” after South Korea’s defense minister said the South would have to attack first if North Korea appeared likely to stage a nuclear attack. North Korea also responded with outrage, warning of war, after learning that the South was engaged in “contingency planning” in case of the collapse of the North Korean regime.
Mr. Wi says it’s “difficult” to ascertain the North’s intentions but hopes that North Korea would soon return to six-party talks on its nuclear weapons. South Korean officials have hinted that talks on a peace treaty, long sought by North Korea to replace the Korean War armistice, might be held simultaneously with six-party talks rather than after North Korea has done away with its nuclear program.
After months of tension, South Korea has resumed shipments of aid, mostly fertilizer, to North Korea, and North and South have agreed on talks next week on easing restrictions on South Korean companies and personnel at the economic complex at Kaesong, 40 miles north of Seoul, above the line between the two Koreas. North and South Korean negotiators also are expected to open talks soon on resuming tours to the Mount Kumkang region, suspended in July 2008 after a South Korean woman was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier when she wandered outside the tourist area.
A South Korean spokesperson said Wednesday’s shelling did not endanger a South Korean vessel returning with a load of silica through nearby waters from the North Korean port of Haeju on the Yellow Sea.
Move by Turkey gives Putin way to keep treaty organization at arm’s length
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
As Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, turns away from its Western links, it is aligning itself more and more with Iran, Syria and Russia, especially because of its quickly developing energy and trade connections to the central part of what was the old Soviet Union, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
From a strategic standpoint, the development gives Moscow an opportunity to further undermine a plan by NATO to spread its security arrangement further east in a region Moscow considers to be its sphere of influence.
During a recent visit to Moscow to meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed multi-billion dollar agreements on trade and energy.
While both parties agreed to increase trade from the current $35 billion to $100 billion within the next five years, the most significant development was an agreement in their strategic relationship on energy cooperation.
In addition to concessions on various pipelines between the two countries, Erdogan pledged to pursue Russian construction and operation of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.
The Turks were left with little choice but to involve Russia more in its energy future, given that Turkey imports some 70 percent of its natural gas from Russia.
That dependency also gives the Russians considerable political and economic leverage over Ankara and increases Moscow’s influence over Europe’s energy future through greater control of existing and proposed pipelines that provide European countries with more than 40 percent of their energy needs.
Various pipelines with Turkish participation as a gate to the West, however, are but one source of control Russia is exhibiting over the Turks.
The more significant one is Russia’s proposal to construct and operate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.
Erdogan and Putin signed a commitment to construct the nuclear power plant, even though there is some domestic opposition due to the existing heavy reliance on Russia for energy.
The plant is to be built on the Mediterranean coast near Akkuyu. A consortium to construct the nuclear power plant includes Russia’s Atomstroyexport, Inter Rao Eus and Turkey’s Park Teknik.
Putin said that Russia had “significant advantages over the competition” to build the nuclear plant in Turkey. In one sense, he was alluding to the virtual energy grip Moscow enjoys over Ankara.
Riyadh ‘confident’ it has an atomic option
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was partially financed by Saudi Arabia, with the two countries sharing nuclear technology, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.
“The Saudis are confident they have a nuclear option via Pakistan,” said the security official. “The Pakistani nukes are also Saudi nukes.”
The official said an agreement between the two countries was secretly inked seven years ago, although at the time such a pact was strongly denied by both Saudi and Pakistani officials.
Pakistan in the late 1990s became the seventh country to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons. The Pakistani arsenal is estimated at between 35 and 95 warheads, according to the U.S. Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict.
Analysts have been keeping a close eye on the rise of Islamic militants in provinces close to Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.
Saudi-Pakistan cooperation has been extensive for decades. The two are both leading Islamic countries with close military alliances. As early as 1969, the Pakistan Air Force flew the aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air Force to help fend off an invasion from South Yemen. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 15,000 Pakistani soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the country’s oil fields.
According to recent media reports, Saudi Arabia negotiated the purchase of Pakistani ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
By Lillian Kwon
Globally recognized pastor Joel Osteen has been drawing some flak from the press and the public in the past few months over his comments on homosexuality.
His remarks last year on “The View” and “Larry King Live” that “homosexuality is not God’s best” drew fire from the gay rights community and from Christians for avoiding to identify the behavior as a sin.
More recently, his participation in the inauguration of Houston’s first openly gay mayor has also drawn some – but less fiery – attention.
Pastor of America’s largest church, Osteen was invited to offer the opening prayer at the inauguration of Houston’s elected city officials on Monday. While praying for the 14-member City Council, he also specifically thanked God for the new mayor, Annise Parker, a partnered lesbian.
“She’s our mayor. Joel doesn’t view Annise through a gay lens,” Don Iloff, Jr., spokesman for Lakewood Church in Houston, told The Christian Post. “He sees her as a person.”
And the Bible instructs believers to pray for and respect those who govern us, he added.
“If you ask Joel he’ll tell you ‘when I can pray at an event over government leaders and in Jesus’ name it’s hard to resist,’” Iloff said. Osteen prayed for the previous mayor, Bill White, at his inauguration.
The spokesman also pointed out that Parker has never pushed or highlighted any kind of gay agenda during her time in government and during her campaign.
“She’s an all business kind of gal,” he said.
During the swearing-in ceremony Monday, the former city controller addressed the economy, public safety and education. She also briefly addressed the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community saying, “I feel your excitement and your joy, your apprehension and your longing for acceptance. I will gladly carry you forward. But today is simply one step toward a tomorrow of greater justice,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
If Parker begins pushing a homosexual agenda, Iloff said Lakewood Church and Pastor Osteen are likely to distance themselves from her.
“Annise says she’s a believer. Let her stand before God; that’s kind of where Joel is,” Iloff noted. “He’s not going to tell homosexuals they can’t come to our church. If the Holy Spirit convicts them, then they’ll change.”
Osteen does not affirm homosexual behavior. Though the pastor himself has never specifically called it a “sin,” his spokesman Iloff says they believe homosexuality is a sin. But sin is sin and homosexuality is no worse a sin than others, such as adultery, Iloff pointed out.
Lakewood Church maintains good relations with city officials, some of whom attend the megachurch. Two of the City Council members are regular Lakewood attendees. Politicians, however, are not allowed to speak from the pulpit.
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.
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.”
Six children and one wife of Osama Bin Laden have reportedly been living in Iran since fleeing Afghanistan shortly before 9/11. His 17-year-old daughter recently escaped to the embassy of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s traditional rival.
By Scott Peterson
Seven members of Osama bin Laden’s immediate family have been under house arrest in Iran and living in a high security compound outside Tehran since 2001, news outlets reported on Wednesday.
The group includes six children of the Al Qaeda leader and one of his wives, all of whom reportedly fled Afghanistan and walked to the Iran border just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, according to The Times in London.
One 17-year-old daughter, Iman, escaped from from the Tehran compound and has been holed up in the Saudi Arabia Embassy for 25 days, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.
The asylum request – and public revelations about the continuing Bin Laden family presence in Iran – are sure to complicate relations between the two traditional rivals for power in the Middle East: Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
During his first term, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on a charm offensive to woo Saudi and other Arab leaders. But Iran’s rising influence and that of its “Axis of Resistance” – with Hezbullah, Hamas, and Syria – raised concern in Riyadh and other Arab capitals.
The disputed June election was final proof for many in the Arab world that Iran’s regional power was on the wane again. For Saudi Arabia, evidence of that came just last week when it was able to precipitate an unlikely meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iran ally, and Lebanon’s pro-West Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who for five years has accused Syria of killing his father.
US turned down Iranian offer for Al Qaeda operatives
One of Bin Laden’s oldest sons, Saad, was known for years to be among some 35 Al Qaeda operatives that fled to Iran after the US toppling of the Taliban government and expulsion of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001.
The government of President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) eventually offered to indirectly exchange those Al Qaeda figures with the US, if Washington would rein in, or hand over, leaders of the anti-Iran Mujahideen-e Khalq. Known as the MEK or MKO, the anti-Iran group considered a terrorist group by the US State Department was based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s wing. But the members there fell under the jurisdiction of American forces after a US-led coalition toppled the Hussein regime in 2003.
Iran’s offer was rejected, according to reports at the time, because the Pentagon wanted to keep hold of the MEK as a possible force to be used against Iran in any Washington-orchestrated bid for regime change.
Bin Ladens’ presence off the radar
Still, it was never made public that so many Bin Laden family members were in Iran. The Washington Post reported in October 2003 that Saad bin Laden had “emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the Al Qaeda network … that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran,” quoting US, European and Arab officials.
The story held that Saad bin Laden was “protected by an elite, radical Iranian security force loyal to the nation’s clerics and beyond the control of the central government” – the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guard.
Reports emerged earlier this year that Iran had quietly released Saad bin Laden in late 2008, and let him go to Afghanistan.Then it was reported in July that he had been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.
But the presence of so many Bin Laden relatives in Iran was a surprise. The Times of London has reported that 11 Bin Laden grandchildren also lived on the compound.
“Until a month ago, we did not know where the siblings were,” Omar bin Laden, the fourth son who lives in Qatar, told Asharq al-Awsat. “The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people whom nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe…. For that we owe them much gratitude.”