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This week, CAIR announced that it had exposed a spy in its midst: its Midwest director, Romin Iqbal, had been a mole inside the group since at least 2008. He provided detailed internal intelligence to an Islamophobic hate group, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). This included video and audio recordings of meetings involving organizational strategy and policy. CAIR held a press conference today which I watched. The group’s staff laid out the conspiracy and everything they knew about it (at least everything they could say publicly).
Even more frightening, was their statement that just before he was fired, packages arrived at the local CAIR office containing AR15 assault rifle parts and ammunition. They were addressed to Iqbal. CAIR staff examined Iqbal’s credit card statements. He used an organizational credit card to purchase the weapons, but paid the bill himself. The group is so concerned about safety for its staff in light of this, that no one is working at its office in Columbus. Everyone is working from home. Though no one said this at the press conference, there was a distinct fear that Iqbal may have been planning an attack on the CAIR office.
The group revealed today that Iqbal was not the only mole in Muslim-American organizations. Its staff said during the press conference there were at least two others who targeted up to a dozen such groups. All three were working on behalf of IPT.
I am not at all surprised to hear that Steve Emerson (IPT’s founder) paid people to spy. In fact, Rachel Neuwirth, an LA pro-Israel activist who sued me unsuccessfully for libel, admitted during depositions that Emerson paid her $500 to videotape a protest by pro-Palestine activists at the Israeli consul general’s office. We now know where those videotapes ended up.
Equally disturbing were secret internal documents which CAIR released from IPT itself. They were memos exchanged between Emerson and senior Israeli intelligence operatives. Among them, Emerson refers to a private meeting the former had with Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, former director of the IDF intelligence research division, at a Tel Aviv cafe. After that, he was director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is charged with developing intelligence on activists around the world supporting BDS and Palestinian rights.
Emerson and Kuperwasser (along with the latter’s deputy, Ido Mizrahi) exchange information about American individuals and organizations which Israel views as hostile or as terrorists. Primarily, they are trying to associate them with Hamas in order to paint them as supporters of terrorism. The most interesting query is from Mizrahi to Emerson, asking if there are any links between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Hamas. Emerson, who’s known to lie and stretch the truth beyond recognition, is forced to admit that while SJP “plays in the same circles” as Hamas, there is no “smoking gun” connection. It’s worth noting that SJP is a nationwide campus pro-Palestine group which is entirely non-violent. Periodically, it holds protests against Israeli apartheid or against Israeli government speakers on campus.
CAIR staff noted that the memos prove that IPT was acting as an Israeli intelligence asset. In effect, it is an agent of a foreign power, which would require it to register as such. Not registering in such a case is a violation of federal law.
CAIR was given the IPT documents by disgruntled former staffers who hated Emerson’s profane, angry manner of running roughshod over his staff. During the press conference, CAIR made clear that it did not solicit the documents and that they were given to it voluntarily.
There are several thorny questions which remain unanswered: why was Iqbal working for IPT? Was he paid to do this and how much? Why did Iqbal need a gun? And though he paid for the purchase did IPT possibly reimburse him for it or encourage him to use it to threaten or attack the CAIR office?
I was disappointed to hear that while the FBI had cursory contact with CAIR’s legal counsel, it has not opened a formal investigation into the incident. Local police are investigating. But this is an issue with national implications. In this environment of virulent Islamophobia, it requires the attention of the Justice Department and local US attorney.
Kareem Caruthers says
I don’t think your claim that Emerson’s organization should be listed a foreign agent of the State of Israel has merit.
Emerson and the Israeli government officials he communicated with had a quid pro quo relationship.
Emerson shared his research into SJP with the Israelis, and in exchange, Emerson asked the Israelis for intel on a Palestinian terrorist and a Syrian scientist.
Emerson volunteered to give a copy of his film documentary on Hamas to his Israelis contacts.
What I can say with certainty, is that Emerson has an obsession with Islamism.
It sure would be interesting to here what motivated Romin Iqbal to spy on CAIR.
Maybe Iqbal will consent to an interview with you.
Kareem Caruthers says
CAIR’s Zahra Billoo forced to take sabbatical after her disturbing video is aired.
I turned it off after she connected the Israeli military with American cops gunning down Blacks.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Kareem: A “sabbatical” is not something one is “forced to take.” A suspension is something one is forced to do. She has not been suspended. I have been in contact with Zahra and she will be back to work next month. I plan to host a webinar with her and other panelists about the issues she raised in her speech. You might learn something, though that’s highly doubtful.
Lange “suspects” the sabbatical was forced on her. Lange is an inveterate liar and hoaxster. I wouldn’t trust anything he said even if it sounded credible. But then again, nothing Lange says is credible. So his suspicions are worth exactly nothing. The fact that you read his shit sheet tells us all we need to know about you. Never ever quote, refer to, or link to that execrable website. Never again, as they say.
Oh and I admire Zahra Billoo greatly. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her speech except overstating the causal connection between deadly exchanges between US police, Israel junkets and murders of Black Americans. These deadly exchanges with Israeli police thugs certainly fit with the militarization of police and their increasing war on American Blacks. But there is no 1 to 1 correlation.
No further comments in this thread.
Billoo was kicked off the board of the Women’s March after some pungent tweets, such as, “Israel commits war crimes and terrorism as a hobby.”
She also called Israel a “racist state” and compared American lone soldiers in the IDF to ISIS recruits.
Richard, the next time you speak to Ms Billoo, please tell her that her remarks about synagogues can be taken as a ‘dog whistle’ by some extremist element and that claims about Israel and American police departments are patently false and skirt precariously close to age old anti-Semitic tropes.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Sasha: In future, do not stray off-topic. This post was not about Billoo. Anyone who publishes further comments about her will have comments deleted. I plan to host a webinar with her next months. That’s the time to post your bellyaching and whining.
In the meantime. Billoo’s expulsion from the Women’s March board was disgusting. Note you’ve never heard again anything from this organization. Billoo’s statement that Israel commits war crimes and engages in acts of state terrorism are plain and simple true. There is nothing she has to apologize for. Israel certainly is a racist Judeo-supremacist state. Again, she’s right on the money.
As for giving me suggestions about what to say to Zahra, you don’t give me suggestions. If you have something to say to her, say it yourself. I’m not your errand boy. But as for synagogues–they are a fountainhead of pro-Israel hasbara/propaganda. They instrumentalize Israeli apartheid by hosting speeches and sermons by Israeli generals and analysts. And by sermons from rabbis who’ve drunk the Kool Aid. Criticism of synagogues for their mindless pro-Israel programming is entirely legitimate. I have done so myself.
As for the deadly exchange: it goes hand in hand with the militarization of US police forces and the racism inherent in our police departments. When our police take junkets to Israel their heads are filled with the racist, violent, thuggish tactics Israeli police use against Palestinians. They certainly take these tactics they’ve learned home with them and implement in our communities of color. To think otherwise is either naive or ignorant.
Finally, opposing Israeli policy and criticizing the Israeli state is NOT anti-Semitic. Make this claim again here and you will no longer be commenting. You may conflate Israel and Judaism. But this is an ignorant, false and deliberately misleading claim. You are real anti-Semites do that. So welcome to your ideological partners.
Do not link to far-right publications here. You know what they are. Don’t do it. I don’t promote the National Review or the views of the far-right here.
“But as for synagogues–they are a fountainhead of pro-Israel hasbara/propaganda.”
Not all synagogues are a fountainhead of pro-Israel hasbara/propaganda.
It is far more nuanced than that and you and Baloo should both know that.
Many orthodox synagogues are houses of worship, where men just go and daven and than go straight to home or work.
Many Reform or progressive synagogues do not advocate hasbara/propaganda.
Baloo must carefully qualify what she say’s so that an extremist doesn’t misunderstand her words and do harm to a synagogue.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Sasha: I have been a member of a number of synagogues in a number of cities over many decades. I have written critiques of a number of congregational rabbis and American Jewish communal organizations as well. Don’t presume to tell me what synagogue life is like or the level of pro Israel programming in them.
Your IP address resolves to Minsk. Either you’re using an IP proxy to comment here (hint: don’t), or you live in Belarus. If you do, the idea that you can tell me about synagogue life in the US is preposterous.
And do not post another comment in This thread.
I wrote this to you:
You decided to continue talking about Billoo and to ignore me. You do that at your peril. I will not moderate you this time. But if you ignore my requests or violate comment rules again, you will be.