An Islamic group has settled a $1.35 million libel suit against one of its critics, who operates a Web site charging that the organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has links to terrorism.There does seem to be something embarrassing that happened, which could explain why they won't say anything clear. Good!
The terms of the settlement between the Muslim group and Andrew Whitehead of Virginia Beach, Va., are confidential, but the Web site, www.anti-cair-net.org, still includes the statements Cair contended were libelous.
"Nothing has changed in that regard. It's as if this lawsuit had never existed," said Mr. Whitehead, 48, a former Navy sailor.
An attorney for Mr. Whitehead, Reed Rubinstein, described the outcome as a victory for his client. "This is the first time somebody has stood up and stopped these folks," the lawyer said.
A spokesman for Cair, Ibrahim Hooper, confirmed that the libel case was dismissed earlier this month on the request of both parties. "It was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount," he said.
Asked if he was suggesting that Mr. Whitehead paid the organization to drop the case, Mr. Hooper said, "We filed the suit." Asked again, the spokesman simply repeated the statement.
An attorney for Cair, Jeremiah Denton III, declined to comment.
Mr. Rubinstein said Cair's interest in settling the suit intensified late last year just as a judge was considering whether the group should be forced to disclose additional details about its inner workings, including its financing and its alleged ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups.Right you are, Andrew. Exactly.
"It would have opened up Cair's finances and their relationships and their principles, their ideological motivations in a way they did not want to be made public," said Mr. Rubinstein, who represented Mr. Whitehead without charge.
Mr. Rubinstein charged that the lawsuit was one of a series of suits filed by Cair and other Muslim organizations as part of a concerted effort to intimidate their critics. "It's part of a larger pattern groups like this have followed. If you say something some of those Muslim groups don't like, they sue you even though the cases have no merit," the attorney said. "You change people's behavior simply by bringing the lawsuit."
"It looks like all they're really trying to do is stifle free speech," Mr. Whitehead said.
Mr. Rubinstein said that after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Cair posted links on its Website leading visitors to make donations to two Islamic non-profit groups, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Global Relief Foundation. Both groups have had their assets frozen and seized by federal authorities over alleged ties to terrorism.Quite right. And they should be avoided at all costs.
A man who was a co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation and of Cair's Texas chapter, Ghassan Elashi, was convicted in 2004 on six counts of illegal trade with Syria. The FBI has charged that he also has links to Hamas.
"These are bad guys," Mr. Rubinstein said.
Debbie Schlussel sums it up well:
The lesson here is not to sit there and take it from the ludicrous Islamist litigeratti. Even though it is a huge hassle and costly, too, you must fight back.And that's why the time has come to start standing up to CAIR and making it clear to them that we're not putting up with their brainless little attempts at silencing free speech anymore. Let the counter-suits commence, I say!