FrontPage Interview’s guest today is David Yerushalmi, a litigator specializing in securities law, public policy relating to national security, and public interest law. He has been practicing law for almost 25 years. He serves as general counsel to several policy think tanks including the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. headed up by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney and the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies in Potomac, Maryland. Mr. Yerushalmi is the author of an upcoming Utah Law Review article examining in-depth the civil liability and criminal exposure for U.S. financial institutions engaged in Shariah-compliant finance. He is licensed and practices in Washington D.C., New York, California, and Arizona.
FP: David Yerushalmi, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Yerushalmi: Hi, Jamie. Nice to be talking with you.
FP: It appears that CAIR is in quite a bit of trouble lately. Give us an update.
Yerushalmi: Four of my clients, who were all once clients of CAIR, have filed a federal civil complaint alleging criminal fraud and racketeering against CAIR.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, arises out of what we can call the Morris Days affair. CAIR’s Herndon office, now shuttered, had hired Morris Days in June 2006 as their “Resident Attorney” and “Manager for Civil Rights”. As it turns out, Days was in fact not an attorney as he and CAIR represented to the public and as one might expect, he did not provide the legal services for those clients who came to CAIR for assistance.
What many people don’t realize is that CAIR operates and presents itself as a public interest law firm, much like the ACLU. As a PILF, it must comply with the codes of professional responsibility applicable to lawyers in the jurisdictions in which it operates and keep sacred the fiduciary duty it owes its clients. As the complaint sets out in careful detail, CAIR trampled on its clients and disregarded its professional obligations with a callous and calculating malice.
Specifically, according to the complaint we have filed on behalf of our clients, CAIR failed to conduct a background check on Days prior to hiring him and when CAIR officials did discover his massive fraud, they immediately set about to cover it up. CAIR officials purposefully concealed the truth about Days from their clients, law enforcement, the Virginia and D.C. state bar associations, and the media.
The complaint identifies CAIR as a racketeering enterprise under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is a criminal racketeering statute that allows victims to sue the defendants in civil court. In addition to damages, my clients are seeking injunctive relief under this and other statutes to shut down CAIR and to prevent the individual defendants from engaging in public interest legal work in the future.
The named defendants are: the Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network Inc. (dba CAIR); Nihad Awad aka Nihad Hammad who serves as executive director of CAIR National; Parvez Ahmed who was the chairman of the board of CAIR National during the relevant time period; Tahra Goraya who was the national director of CAIR but who has since resigned; Khadijah Athman who is the manager of the “civil rights” division of CAIR; and Nadhira al-Khalili, Esq., who is in-house legal counsel for CAIR.
Also named as defendants are Ibrahim Hooper and Amina Rubin, CAIR’s director of communications and coordinator of communications, respectively. According to the complaint, these two were directly responsible for issuing fraudulent press releases about the Days fraud scheme, thus aiding and abetting the CAIR cover-up.