Behind the News, Dispatches from the Sunshine State

Mayor Iorio snubs CAIR

It’s the hottest story on for the last few days: After pressure from “interest groups,” Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio renounces “CAIR Day,” the annual recognition of the city’s Muslim-American community. The mayor has proclaimed “CAIR Day” every year since 2005.

For those who may not know, CAIR stands for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a “civil rights group” that attempts to “enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding,” according to their Website. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, CAIR has been a controversial organization that some say is anti-Semetic and sympathetic to terrorist groups.

But the Tampa chapter, while in the news frequently over two high profile cases, hasn’t garnered the outrage that some other chapters have. Nonetheless, the mayor’s spokeswoman says, Iorio is distancing herself from the group. But she won’t give any specifics.

This is an interesting move on Iorio’s part. As I’m sure she is well aware, she risks losing this political constiuency. Plus, it could make her look intolerant and bowing down to some anti-Muslim activists with a clear axe to grind. So what could she have found that made her wary of endorsing this group?

After a little research, I think I know why: According to some news outlets (of the semi-true, right wing variety), the FBI severed some ties to the group back in January over suspected funding of Hamas. This has always been a backdrop to some CAIR criticisms, but seeing it in national news is a new one.

From FOX News:

The FBI is severing its once-close ties with the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas.

All local chapters of CAIR have been shunned in the wake of a 15-year FBI investigation that culminated with the conviction in December of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

An official at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington confirmed to FOX News that his office directed FBI field offices across the country to cut ties with local branches of CAIR.

The new policy marks a major shift for the FBI, which has long been close to CAIR. The agency has previously invited CAIR to give training sessions for agents and used it as a liaison with the American Muslim community.

I couldn’t find this info on any other news source. Is it because FOX scooped them? Nonetheless, the FBI has distanced itself from the group. And with Iorio weighing a political run in the next several years, if CAIR turned out to be related to Hamas, she’d have an instant attack ad ready for her Republican opponent.

But also recognize this: There are always two or more sides to every story. For example, CAIR claims the FBI deceived them, so the group stopped cooperating in some investigations. Perhaps they are referring to the myriad of informants hovering around that community.

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