In an unexpected move, the FBI and the Justice Department are wading into a court battle between a conservative author and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The feds reportedly served a grand jury subpoena Friday to seize thousands of pages of records allegedly stolen from CAIR by author David Gaubatz and his son Chris as part of an undercover infiltration of the group. The records were about to be returned to CAIR pursuant to a court order in a civil suit the organization brought against the pair.
Gaubatz, co-author of “Muslim Mafia,” which accuses CAIR of being a front for Islamic terrorism, agreed earlier this month to the order requiring the return of more than 12,000 pages of disputed records while a federal judge considered the lawsuit.
However, on Friday afternoon, the U.S. Government, which previously had no role in the civil lawsuit, filed a motion in the case. The legal papers were filed under seal, perhaps in response to complaints that the Justice Department unfairly smeared CAIR in a public court filing in 2007 suggesting CAIR had links to Hamas.
At about the same time, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation served the Gaubatzes’ attorneys with a grand jury subpoena demanding the records, according to World Net Daily, a conservative media outlet whose book division published “Muslim Mafia.”
“Obviously, we were prepared to honor the court order,” WND’s Joseph Farah said. “Now we will have to confer with the attorneys to determine what happens next. Which takes precedence – a federal court order or an FBI warrant? … Personally, I would like to see these papers in the hands of trained FBI investigators. The revelations raised about CAIR in Muslim Mafia have clearly piqued the agency’s interest.”
CAIR has denied any ties to or support for terrorism, but the Justice Department’s suspicions have prompted a ban at the FBI on some, but not all, outreach efforts involving the Islamic group.
A spokesman for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, told POLITICO Saturday that the group was still attempting to make sense of the legal developments.
“We are trying to find out what is going on,” Hooper said in an e-mail.
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and the FBI said they were unaware of the reported FBI move against CAIR.