On March 27, 2014, Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, sitting in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, denied the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR) motion for partial summary judgment in a lawsuit CAIR filed against the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and several of its employees, thereby setting the stage for the case to go to a jury trial.
CAIR, which bills itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization,” sued CSP – a national security policy think tank – and its employees for working on a documentary designed to expose CAIR’s Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas ties and other illegal activities.
While dealing a blow to CAIR, the court granted most of CSP’s motion for summary judgment, sending a few of the surviving issues to trial on the presentation of the slimmest of evidence by CAIR. Based on this “evidence,” the court concluded that there were factual disputes that had to be resolved by a jury.
With regard to six of the claims advanced by CAIR, the court had these harsh words to say:
The Court finds that Plaintiffs [i.e., CAIR] have thus far been frustratingly unclear as to the injuries at issue for each of the claims. In addition, Plaintiffs have not specified which injury, if any, corresponds to which of the Plaintiffs, and have made little effort to explain the proximate cause linking the alleged tortious conduct to the injuries at issue. Instead, Plaintiffs speak in broad generalizations, asserting injuries and damages and proximate cause across multiple counts and multiple Plaintiffs. As a result, the Court has received only opaque and largely unhelpful briefing. . . . Plaintiffs are not specific as to these issues, making resolution of the threshold questions of injury and proximate cause next to impossible for the Court.
Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which is representing CSP and its employees, commented:
“While we believe that the court incorrectly went to great lengths to find scant ‘evidence’ to conclude that there are material issues of fact to be resolved by a jury, CAIR is nonetheless in trouble not only with its few surviving claims, but also with the possibility of a public trial that will most certainly expose CAIR for what it is – a sharia-ist front group.”
AFLC is planning to file a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the court misconstrued both the law and the facts with regard to the few surviving claims.
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:
“We are certainly disappointed that the court did not rule entirely in favor of our clients, especially because CAIR manifestly abused the legal process in this litigation and because the facts uncovered clearly demonstrate that the documentary was undertaken legally and quite properly. However, we are eager to prove in court what the documentary sought to prove in the public square: that CAIR is a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group.”
In 2008, Dave Gaubatz, an experienced federal investigator, was hired as an independent contractor to put together a team of field researchers to assist in the documentary. As part of the field research, Dave Gaubatz trained his son, Chris Gaubatz, to work undercover as an intern with CAIR, which required Chris to wear an audio-video recorder on his clothing to obtain recordings of the routine activities of a CAIR intern. During this internship, it became clear that both a major fraud occurred within the organization and that CAIR officials were attempting to cover it up. (AFLC represents five former CAIR victims in a federal lawsuit in the same court alleging fraud and a cover-up by CAIR. AFLC has filed a motion for summary judgment in that lawsuit as well and is expecting a ruling from the court very soon.)
After the field research for the documentary was completed, Dave Gaubatz published a book entitled, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America, which was an exposé on CAIR. Shortly after the book was published, CAIR filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., against Dave and Chris Gaubatz. CAIR then amended its lawsuit to add CSP and several of its employees who were involved in the production of the documentary. CAIR’s lawsuit alleges violations of various federal wiretap and hacking statutes as well as several common law torts, such as breach of fiduciary duty and trespass, among others.
The case has been ongoing for nearly four years. At various times throughout the litigation, the court criticized CAIR and its in-house legal counsel for their inability to both efficiently manage the case and to comply with court procedures. Furthermore, the court scolded CAIR’s in-house lawyers for filing untimely and substantively deficient motions.
CAIR, a self-described Muslim public interest law firm, was previously named as an unindicted co-conspirator and Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the successful prosecution of a terrorist funding cell organized around one of the largest Muslim charities, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). HLF raised funds for violent jihad on behalf of Hamas, and top CAIR officials were part of the conspiracy. As a result, the FBI publicly terminated its outreach activities with CAIR.