U.S. Muslim advocacy group fires Ohio chapter director for spying for hate group

U.S. Muslim advocacy group fires Ohio chapter director for spying for hate group

The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has fired its Executive and Legal Director Romin Iqbal after discovering he was sharing information about the organization to "a known anti-Muslim hate group."

“Last week, CAIR’s national headquarters informed our chapter that a forensic investigation conducted by an independent, third-party expert had found conclusive evidence that Iqbal had spent years secretly recording CAIR network meetings and passing confidential information regarding CAIR’s national advocacy work to a known anti-Muslim hate group,” said CAIR-Ohio in a press release. “The forensic expert verified that he was not aided by any other CAIR individual.”

CAIR-Ohio is one of 35 chapters of CAIR, a national nonprofit civil rights organization first established in Washington, D.C. in 1994.

Romin Iqbal, 45, has led the Columbus and Cincinnati offices of CAIR-Ohio since 2018.

When confronted with the investigation's findings, Iqbal confessed, according to CAIR-Ohio. He was allegedly working with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, an organization founded by Steven Emerson.

“After being confronted with clear evidence of misconduct, Iqbal admitted that he had been working with the anti-Muslim hate group. This betrayal and violation of trust was planned and purposeful, taking place over a period of years,” said CAIR-Ohio in the press release.

Emerson has "a history of promoting falsified information and conspiracy theories about Islam and Muslims," according to The Bridge Initiative, a Georgetown University research project on Islamophobia, and uses his group to further this effort.

"For years, Mr. Iqbal was secretly sharing confidential information about our civil rights work—including surreptitiously recorded conversations, strategic plans and private emails—with anti-Muslim extremists," said Nihad Awad, Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "He did this in violation of his ethical duties to the organization and his moral duty to protect the Ohio Muslim community."

CAIR-Ohio also said its Columbus office found suspicious purchases from ammunition and gun retailers in recent weeks made with a credit card linked to Iqbal.

“In the wake of Iqbal’s termination, the Columbus office of CAIR-Ohio has discovered suspicious purchases from ammunition and gun retailers made in recent weeks using a CAIR-Ohio credit card that Iqbal administered,” said CAIR-Ohio in its press release. “Yesterday, CAIR-Ohio staff also found a suspicious package mailed to the CAIR-Ohio Columbus office containing parts for an AR-15 rifle. CAIR-Ohio has shared this information with law enforcement, which is currently investigating the matter.”

“The safety of our community is our top priority. We encourage mosques and community members to exercise vigilance and review their security protocols out of an abundance of caution.”