By ALEX ROSE
Delaware Country Daily Times
A local Libertarian commentator recently caused a stir when he asked freshman U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, if he is “with us or against us” regarding a Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations annual banquet being held in Springfield March 12.
“The group’s infiltration into the Philadelphia area is not only problematic but extremely dangerous for law-abiding citizens here,” Aaron Proctor said on his examiner.com local news feed. “CAIR is an Islamic group that forwards the false belief that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ when it is simply a terroristic world-dominating political movement and not a religion at all.”
He called the annual dinner at Springfield Country Club a “planned intimidation of law-abiding American citizens” and said Meehan and CAIR supporters should not get a “free pass” for allowing the banquet to go unnoticed.
Dennis Ciciretti, general manager of the country club, described CAIR as a very peaceful group that the facility had hosted for years. He said he hadn’t received any pressure to cancel the banquet and that he didn’t see any reason he should.
“We’ve got a great relationship with the country club, we’re great partners, it’s an event of more than 800 to 900 Muslim Americans celebrating their rights and celebrating their American citizenship,” said CAIR Philadelphia Chapter Executive Director Moein Khawaja. “Everyone who’s coming, including any politician or leader, they know that CAIR is a Muslim civil rights organization. It’s something the community is proud of and they continue to support us.”
Meehan said in a statement that while he would never deny any group their constitutional right to peacefully assemble, he does have “major concerns” about Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, one of the banquet’s featured speakers.
Abdul-Malik took over as director of community outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., in 2002. The center has been connected to two 9/11 hijackers and Anwar al-Awlaki, a chief al-Qaida operative.
But CAIR-PA, in a lengthy reply on its website, noted Abdul-Malik was tapped by the U.S. Department of State just last year for a bridge-building operation in Afghanistan.
He has also publicly denounced al-Awlaki as a terrorist and said “people who would go out and kill anyone, of any religion, from any country, of any age, for no reason other than the fact they are angry, isolated and upset is against God.”
Meehan, a former U.S. attorney, said he was also concerned CAIR encourages its members not to cooperate with the FBI.
But CAIR, in its response, pointed to a December 2010 report issued by the Congressional Research Service — which produces research for members of Congress — that showed two instances of CAIR reporting potential threats directly to the FBI.
The same report includes numerous allegations of FBI intimidation and coercion in attempting to route out homegrown terrorism.
Meehan additionally noted CAIR was listed as an “unindicted co-conspirator” along with hundreds of other groups in a Hamas funding case in 2007.
The 5th Circuit Court Appeals found the designation was “an untested allegation of the government, made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass” late last year.
“The truth is … if you make a donation to CAIR, you get a tax deduction,” said Khawaja. “You can’t get any more mainstream than that.”
Meehan’s Democratic predecessor in Congress, Joe Sestak, was criticized for attending a similar CAIR banquet in 2007, prior to CAIR’s connection to the Hamas suit becoming public.
As for Proctor, Khawaja said he has “absolutely no capacity to affect our banquet in the slightest bit,” but that he would be providing Proctor’s picture to security at the banquet as a precaution.
“This type of hate speech comes from people who we have seen to become violent toward Muslims,” he said. “We’re going to pass his name along to banquet security and we appreciate that he’s provided a photograph on the examiner.com website.”