Conservatives Stoke Fear of Fifth Column

Justin Elliott reports at TPM on how the author of Muslim Mafia, the WorldNetDaily-produced screed about an alleged infiltration of Capitol Hill by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is claiming that alleged Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan is taking orders from CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.

That sort of fifth column conspiracy theory — that Muslim extremists bent on replacing the Constitution with sharia law are frighteningly in our midst — is the bread and butter of a cottage industry of Islamophobia found in some conservative and religious right circles.

CAIR, which condemned the shootings yesterday,has sued the book’s author and his son, alleging that the son stole documents from its offices while working as an intern under a pseudonym, and that they misused the documents to advance the book’s claim that CAIR planted interns as spies in Congressional offices.

The film The Third Jihad, released last year by the Clarion Fund, a non-profit with links to the ultra-orthodox Jewish group Aish Hatorah, claims that CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and other mainstream Islamic groups have links to jihadists and are bent on bringing sharia law to the United States. (I reported on the Clarion Fund-Aish Hatorah link and the condemnation of Clarion Fund films by other Jewish leaders last year.)

Last month, when the members of Congress, led by Rep. Sue Myrick, and the Clarion Fund called for an investigation of CAIR based on the charges made in Muslim Mafia, I wrote:

CAIR and numerous other Muslim organizations were identified as unindicted co-conspirators in a case the United States brought against the Holy Land Foundation, which earlier this year was found guilty of illegally financing Hamas. In 2008, the government introduced a document as an exhibit to a brief — contrary to Department of Justice policy — publicly identifying these alleged “unindicted co-conspirators.” The policy is not to publicly identify unindicted co-conspirators because it contravenes constitutional protections guaranteeing the accused the right to defend itself in court.

The Clarion Fund, which has ties to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group Aish Hatorah, promotes its films to neoconservative and Christian-right audiences, who no doubt hear a familiar ring to the charges of Myrick et al. But despite its efforts to make these charges seem like a “moderate” view, they are far outside the mainstream. When I wrote about the Clarion Fund and its films last year, Paul Barrett, an editor at Business Week and author of American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, told me, “Saying that organizations like CAIR and ISNA aim to institute Islamic religious law in the United States is similar to saying that Jewish or Catholic religious organizations aim to institute rabbinic or church law in the U.S. The notion that they are threat to the republic, a fifth column, is both laughable and very pernicious.”

The Third Jihad also claims that the Muslim Brotherhood formed an alliance with CAIR, ISNA, and others in order to execute its nefarious plan. For that, the filmmakers rely on a single document authored by the Muslim Brotherhood, with no proof that the other groups were even involved.