By Jordy Yager - 10/17/09 10:00 PM EDT
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) continued to accuse a Muslim advocacy group of
attempting to place interns on key national security committees to sway
policy in its favor, a day after the group’s spokesman received a
Asked for her opinion on CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper receiving a death threat after the accusations she made on Wednesday, Myrick’s office reiterated her calls for Congress to stop dealing with the group.
On Wednesday, Myrick and fellow GOP members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, Reps. John Shadegg (Ariz.), Paul Broun (Ga.) and Trent Franks (Ariz.), called for the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee had hired interns who acted as “spies” for CAIR.
The next day Hooper said he received a death threat faxed to the CAIR offices depicting a gallows with his name on it and calling for him to be hanged for treason.
House Democrats, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), came to CAIR’s defense, saying that the GOP allegations were promoting religious intolerance and heightening tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims.
On Friday Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, also denounced Myrick’s comments as “fear-rousing,” saying that they prevented Muslim Americans from participating in the political process.
“As a result of the innumerous obstacles facing Muslim-Americans in this post-9/11 environment, their political participation is stifled and often stymied,” he said in a statement. “These fallacious allegations implicate the existence of a society still struggling with anti-Muslim sentiment.”
The GOP accusations stem from a book released on Thursday, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America, by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry.
In the book’s forward, Myrick writes: “Front groups of terror now operate openly in our country, comprising a network of support for jihadists…Government officials need to stop hiding behind political correctness and keep the American people informed.”
In a Jan. 13, 2007, memo that the book’s authors said was obtained from CAIR, the group states its intention to lobby members of Congress and place interns in the offices of lawmakers.
“We will focus on influencing congressmen responsible for policy that directly impacts the American Muslim community. (For example congressman (sic) on the judiciary, intelligence, and homeland security committees.) We will develop national initiatives such as a lobby day and placing Muslim interns in Congressional offices,” the memo reads.
The Republicans on Wednesday called for the Justice Department to share with all lawmakers and their chiefs of staff an executive summary of the findings that led the department to name CAIR as a co-conspirator in an anti-terrorism case.
Myrick’s office cited a letter on Friday they said was sent to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) by the FBI on April 28. The letter states that the agency, while investigating the Holy Land Foundation, discovered a link between the founders of CAIR and the Palestinian Committee, which it says has ties to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.
“In light of that evidence, the FBI suspended all formal contacts between CAIR and the FBI,” the letter reads.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday called the GOP accusations a “witch hunt.”
“Attempting to stigmatize legitimate activities with sinister and baseless accusations is reminiscent of some of the darkest days of our history,” Amanda Simon, a spokeswoman for the ACLU, said in a statement.
“This sort of fear-mongering and baseless finger-pointing has no place in our democracy, much less in our Congress.”
Broun’s office reiterated his calls to investigate CAIR, but refrained from addressing either the death threat sent to Hooper or Democrats' calls for tolerance.
Neither of the offices of the two Muslim members of Congress, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), responded to requests for comment by press time. And the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association declined to comment. But Honda backed the efforts of Muslims in Congress.
“My Muslim colleagues in the House of Representatives, along with the highly qualified, patriotic and committed Muslim staffers and interns that have worked with my office and with CAPAC, contribute mightily to our democratic process,” he said. “Any slander against these fellow patriots is slander against democracy and religious freedom.”
The offices of Shadegg, Franks and Kyl did not return requests for comment by press time.
-- Michael M. Gleeson contributed to this story