The Times' Muslim-Beat Reporter Again Goes to Bat for CAIR

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a reliable friend in reporter Neil MacFarquhar.

Neil MacFarquhar, the Times reporter on the Muslim beat, again goes to bat for the highly controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Thursday's "Muslim Groups Oppose A List of 'Co-Conspirators.'" The text box: "A Justice Dept. action in a terrorism case is seen as an effort to smear a community."

The case involves the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, accused of providing material support to what MacFarquhar called "the Palestinian organization Hamas." (Everyone else knows Hamas as an anti-Israel terrorist group.)

"Two prominent Muslim American organizations took steps yesterday to reverse what they called a Justice Department effort to smear the entire Muslim community by naming some of its largest organizations as unindicted co-conspirators in a Texas terrorism trial.

"The National Association of Muslim Lawyers, which is not named, sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales objecting to the list, which it said breached the department's own guidelines against releasing the names of unindicted co-conspirators and did not serve any clear law enforcement purpose.

"The letter, also signed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, said the 'overreaching list' of more than 300 organizations and individuals would further cripple charitable donations to Muslim organizations and could ratchet up the discrimination faced by American Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"In addition, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which is on the list, announced that it would file a brief today asking Judge A. Joe Fish of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas to remove its name and all others from the list.

"The brief, a copy of which was released yesterday, says the list furthers a pattern of the 'demonization of all things Muslim' that has unrolled in the United States since 2001."

Reporter MacFarquhar called CAIR a "prominent Muslim American organization," even though the Washington Times found the group had only 1,700 members last year, a fall of 90% since 2001. The Times has not yet reported that tidbit. In fact, the last Times news story that mentioned CAIR was another slanted piece by MacFarquhar back in March, another of listing CAIR's grievances without detailing the accusations made against CAIR, including accusations of links to the anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas.

New evidence has emerged in the interim, but MacFarquhar made no mention of it in his Thursday piece. From the CounterTerrorism Blog (hat tip Powerline):

"Add to that recently-released evidence that both Ahmad and Awad [two founders of CAIR] were present at a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia attended by two-dozen HAMAS members and supporters. According to an FBI analysis and transcripts of wiretapped conversations, they spent three days discussing the most effective approach to derail the Oslo Accords, a peace deal with the potential to end the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."

In his slanted March 14 article, MacFarquhar strongly suggested there was no such link:

" A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah, which have been designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department, and have gone so far as calling the group an American front for the two....Broadly summarized, critics accuse CAIR of pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda and say at least five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups. They include Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any attacks. There were no charges linked to CAIR in any of the cases involved, and law enforcement officials said that in the current climate, any hint of suspicious behavior would have resulted in a racketeering charge."