On December 17, 2015, 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 to reopen discovery in what has become known as the Muslim Mafia Trial.
CAIR, which bills itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization,” sued the Center for Security Policy – 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.
The lawsuit initially began when, in 2009, CAIR sued Dave Gaubatz, a former highly decorated counter-terrorism specialist who worked in and out of uniform for the U.S. government for more than 20 years and served behind combat lines during the Iraq war. The CAIR complaint was based on the fact that Gaubatz trained operatives, including his son Chris, to go undercover as CAIR interns. Once inside the organization, Gaubatz learned of multiple crimes committed by the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front organization. As a result, well-known author, Paul Sperry, wrote a book outlining CAIR’s crimes and terror connections based upon Gaubatz’s information. The book, titled, Muslim Mafia, revealed how Gaubatz trained his son to work as a CAIR intern and to gain access to the criminal evidence. More importantly, the book carefully outlines CAIR’s criminal and terrorist background and connections.
But, instead of an FBI criminal investigation of CAIR and Department of Justice indictment against CAIR for its criminal conduct, CAIR sued Gaubatz and his son for wiretapping and computer hacking, along with a whole host of other torts. To this day, the administration, even as it knows of CAIR’s Hamas and direct terror-related connections, has failed to bring charges against CAIR, providing the organization with the daylight to sue the Gaubatz father and son team.
Several years later, CAIR added several more defendants, including the Center for Security Policy (CSP), headed up by former Reagan administration official, Frank Gaffney, and several CSP employees. The thrust of the claim against the CSP defendants was that Dave Gaubatz’s operatives gained entry into CAIR while working on a CSP documentary about CAIR’s Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist connections.
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), founded and led by David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, represents the CSP defendants.
Because CAIR has gone through nearly a dozen lawyers, the case has meandered for more than six years. By early 2015, the discovery period had been closed for more than two years, and the federal court had ordered the parties to get ready for trial or mediate a settlement. Given CAIR’s terror connections, no settlement was possible, and the CSP defendants were anxious for trial in order to put on public display all of the evidence of CAIR’s Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist connections.
CAIR, however, had other intentions. After months of delays resulting from CAIR dumping its prior counsel and hiring its twelfth lawyer for the case, Haytham Faraj, CAIR filed a motion to re-open discovery and to allow CAIR’s counsel to name experts who could testify about the reputational damages suffered by CAIR as a result of the publication of the book Muslim Mafia.
AFLC lawyers Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi filed an opposition to the motion, pointing out that CAIR’s newest lawyer, Faraj, had failed to explain why this case should be delayed any further and not readied for trial. More importantly, AFLC’s opposition pointed out that CAIR had early on in this case renounced any claim for reputational damages, including any losses attributed to loss of donor income or the inability to lobby government officials, precisely because CAIR did not want to have its Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood reputation placed center-stage in the litigation.
The Court agreed with AFLC:
Although a trial date has not yet been set in this case, the dispositive motions in this case are finally resolved, and it is now time to prepare for trial rather than time to reopen discovery, particularly when certain prior decisions of the Court were premised on the explicit disclaimer of reputational damages. Reopening discovery at this point, even for a limited purpose, would not serve the “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution of this matter. Accordingly, for all of these reasons, and given the long history of this case recounted above, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have not shown good cause to reopen discovery, and Plaintiffs’ motion is DENIED.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly added a comment as a warning to CAIR and its new counsel:
The Court notes that this request to reopen discovery comes as Plaintiffs retained new attorneys—once again—purportedly to take this case to trial. While it is Plaintiffs’ prerogative to switch jockeys mid-course, they may not rewind time and begin the race again. To do so would be neither fair nor efficient.
Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which is representing CSP and its employees, commented:
“We applaud the court for its detailed description of CAIR’s duplicitous motion, which sought to open up discovery on reputational damages after CAIR had for years asserted it had no reputational damages to pursue. CAIR is 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 subversive Islamist front group.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:
“We are eager to get to trial to prove in court what the documentary sought to prove in the public square: that CAIR is a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group.”
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. More recently, the United Arab Emirates officially declared CAIR a terrorist organization.