In his April 14 letter supporting the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace board of directors, Rich Leonardi said that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, "called the conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers a 'hate crime,' and the group includes on its advisory board Siraj Wahaj [sic], whom the U.S. attorney listed as one of the 'unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators' in that case."
CAIR never used the term "hate crime" to refer to the conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. That bogus accusation originated with Mr. Pipes and was published in the April 24, 2002, issue of the Jerusalem Post. CAIR is a mainstream organization and has condemned terrorism in all its forms on many occasions.
As for Siraj Wahhaj, he is one of the American Muslim community's most respected leaders, and he works with almost all national Islamic organizations. As part of the original World Trade Center case, prosecutors released a long list of people who "may be alleged as co-conspirators." Imam Siraj was a leader in the New York community in which Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman lived, so his name was on the list. He was never charged with a crime, nor was any evidence presented that he was involved in the conspiracy. Mr. Pipes knows this.
Mr. Pipes is an inappropriate choice to direct an organization dedicated to the peaceful resolution of international conflicts.
Director of Governmental Affairs
Council on American-Islamic Relations