In August, the Council on American Islamic Relations demanded that law enforcement officials in McAllen, Texas, investigate an intentionally-set fire at a Muslim store as a possible hate crime. As CAIR noted in one of its endless press release decrying Islamophobia in America:
“The fire followed two separate incidents in which unknown parties painted the phrase “Go Home” on the door of the store. The hate-graffiti appeared just after the store began running advertisements on local television that featured a Muslim woman wearing an Islamic head scarf.”
Well, the cops investigated. And guess who they arrested? The Muslim owner of the store. The New York Times reported:
The man, Amjad Abunar, had complained that “Go Home” was twice spray-painted on a door of his Al Madinah Market before a fire on Aug. 6 that gutted the small delicatessen. Only last week, the graffiti and fire were cited as evidence by a Washington advocacy group that hate crimes against Muslims were on the rise in Texas.
Bond for Mr. Abunar was set at $150,000, and he remained in jail on Wednesday.
Representatives of the advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which had complained that McAllen officials were not investigating the fire as a possible hate crime, said they were stunned Wednesday to learn of Mr. Abunar’s arrest.
Ibrahim Hooper, a council official in Washington, said Mr. Abunar had assured him he had nothing to do with setting the fire.
“Stunned?” The Muslim lobby’s gullible hate crime howlers have been duped before. Muslim self-arsonists and self-grafitti vandals have been a recurring post-Sept. 11 problem. Daniel Pipes noted the case of a Washington state Muslim business owner’s bogus hate crimes claims in August:
In the early morning on July 9, 2004, a fire burned much of the Continental Spices Cash & Carry, a grocery store in Everett, Washington, specializing in Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages but no injuries. On putting out the fire, police and firefighters found a gasoline can, a spray-painted obscenity against Arabs and a spray-painted white cross. Rupinder Bedi, the proprietor of a 7-Eleven next door, told the Seattle Times how he found Continental Spices’ manager, Mirza Akram, 37 and a Pakistani, crying and telling him “he had been harassed by some customers earlier this summer [and that] the verbal slurs didn’t stop until he threatened to call police.”
Further, the Everett Herald reports:
The morning of the fire, the store manager told investigators he feared the fire had been set in retaliation for attacks on Americans in the Middle East. He claimed that the month before, two white men came to the store and became upset when they learned he had been born in Pakistan. They left the store angry.
That was the story. On August 19, however, the police arrested Akram in his store on a federal arson warrant. He stands accused of setting fire to the store to collect insurance on the building and its contents. U.S. attorneys explained in court that mounting financial losses led Akram to stage an arson and then make it look like a hate crime…
…Akram allegedly schemed for months to burn it down. (Ironically, the store was not on the policy.) On the evening of July 8. he met with an unnamed male friend (who has since turned state’s evidence) at his home and told the friend how he had poured gasoline inside the store and lit incense above the gasoline, expecting the incense would ignite the gasoline.
Akram allegedly had the friend drive to the store in the early morning of the 9th to see if it was on fire. He called Akram and reported that is was not. Then, about 4 a.m. on July 9, the friend entered the store and dropped burning incense into the gasoline, causing a fire to erupt so fast that it burnt the friend’s trousers. He “narrowly escaped” the building without injury.
Phone records obtained by investigators show 11 calls between Akram and his friend between midnight and 4 a.m. on the day of the fire. If convicted of arson, Akram faces up to 20 years in prison.
While Akram is presumed innocent until proven guilty, this tale points once again to (1) the need to treat claims of “hate crimes” with less than total credulity and (2) the unreliability and poor judgment of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Immediately on July 10, CAIR rushed a press release out the door, “Arsonist Torches Muslim Store in Washington,” calling on “local and national leaders to address the issue of growing Islamophobic prejudice following an arson attack on a Muslim-owned business in Washington State.”
I wrote about this same Muslim hoax crime phenomenon last May:
Mazhar Tabesh, Nezar “Mike” Maad, and Aqil Yassom Al-Timimi all have something in common. They were held up by Muslim activists as innocent victims of the “post-September 11 backlash.” They milked the compassion of their communities. They won sympathy from the media and politicians.
And now it appears they were all hate crime hucksters who cried “racism” to cash in on the terrorist attacks.
Mazhar Tabesh, a naturalized American originally from Pakistan, co-owned a motel in Heber City, Utah. Last July, someone set the lodge ablaze, causing nearly $100,000 in damage.
“We are really scared because we are Muslim — probably the only Muslims in the area — and we are the target,” Tabesh declared. “It’s scary.” Tabesh complained of receiving threatening calls from anonymous hatemongers who “told us they would get us if we didn’t get out.”
Utah residents organized a benefit concert and raised $1,400 for Tabesh’s family. The national press jumped on the bandwagon: “Immigrant Family Feels Post-9-11 Rage,” blared a Los Angeles Times headline. The accompanying 1,100-word story suggested that “white supremacists and skinheads living in the area” might be to blame.
But the chief suspect turned out to be Mazhar Tabesh himself. Prosecutors say Tabesh invented a “mystery man” arsonist and lied about witnessing the non-existent lodger running from the hotel after the fire started. His motive? A Heber City police officer testified at a preliminary hearing that Tabesh was losing about $5,900 a month on the motel and still owed $450,000 on the mortgage.
Tabesh will stand trial in June on first-degree felony aggravated arson charges. Don’t count on the Los Angeles Times to cover it.
The tale of Nezar “Mike” Maad follows the same basic plot. Maad, an Arab-American businessman and “tolerance advocate,” owned a print shop in Anchorage, Alaska. On Sept. 21, 2001, someone destroyed equipment and spray-painted “We hate Arabs” inside the store. Community leaders created the “Not in Our Town” fund, a city-backed charity which raised a whopping $75,000 for Maad. A local newspaper editorial declared unequivocally that the incident “was a hate crime. It was vandalism. It was a statement against bedrock American values . . . ”
Five months after Maad was “victimized,” a jury convicted him of federal fraud charges. During the hate crime investigation, agents discovered that Maad had lied on bank loan applications and federal forms about his business finances and prior criminal convictions. Nevertheless, Maad received a reduced sentence of six months’ prison time.
The FBI dropped its hate crime investigation; Maad and his wife remain the prime suspects in the languishing property damage case.
In Nashville, Tenn., Iraqi-American Aqil Yassom Al-Timimi claimed someone set his Chevy truck on fire after the Sept. 11 attacks because he was of Arab descent. Although local TV stations ate up the hate crime angle, one keen reporter remained skeptical and raised the strong possibility of an insurance fraud scheme. Writing in the Nashville Scene, Matt Pulle reported that no notes or graffiti were left at the crime scene. Emergency personnel were immediately suspicious of Al-Timimi, who reportedly pressed them to alert the media as soon as they arrived at Al-Timimi’s home.
Sources said they suspected Al-Timimi was the perpetrator all along, but more than a year and a half after the fire, the case has languished. Al-Timimi, the supposed victim of hateful wrongdoing, hasn’t been heard from since. “If he was playing us,” Pulle told me, “he did a perfect job.”
The FBI and Justice Department have vociferously condemned and aggressively prosecuted a string of anthrax hoaxes that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. But when it comes to cracking down on hate crime hoaxes by Arabs and Muslims, the feds — too busy conducting politically correct “outreach” with Muslim leaders who pooh-pooh hate crime fraud — have been appallingly negligent. There is no way of knowing whether fake hate crimes outnumber real anti-Muslim crimes because no law enforcement agency keeps track. (Note to frustrated cops: Send me your suspected hoax cases and let’s get started.)
Hoax crimes waste precious investigative resources, exacerbate racial tension, create terror and corrode goodwill. It’s a shame so many in the media are more concerned with protecting the twisted cult of victimhood than with exposing hard truths.
Oh, and still no apology from CAIR and its ilk for continuing to perpetuate the myth of “growing Islamophobic prejudice” and for smearing the most tolerant nation of earth.