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It's still unclear why CAIR-Ohio's director was allegedly spying on the national organization

man in tie and suit coat stands at a podium holding a microphone.
File photo
Romin Iqbal
Updated: January 13, 2022 at 2:27 PM EST
CAIR-Ohio reached out to WVXU Thursday to clarify the situation involving Hilliard Police. On Wednesday, CAIR National chastised the suburban Columbus department for not further investigating weapons mailed to CAIR-Ohio's headquarters and weapons/ammunition purchases made inappropriately using a CAIR credit card.

In a statement CAIR-Ohio says, "CAIR-Ohio is aware that a comment made yesterday during a CAIR National press conference caused some confusion regarding the investigation into the purchases from weapons retailers and the AR-15 parts sent to our Hilliard office. We have clarified to our national office that the Hilliard Police Department is willing to investigate this once receiving more information. Internally, we have been working through the fraudulent charges and are getting more information to local law enforcement in hopes of a full investigation. We appreciate the support from the City of Hilliard and look forward to having this investigated thoroughly."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, says it still doesn't know what motivated alleged actions by the now former executive director of CAIR-Ohio.

CAIR-Ohio fired Romin Iqbal last month and accused him of passing private information to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) for years. Extremism trackers consider the IPT an anti-Muslim hate group.

"Romin Iqbal did not come forward voluntarily. He has not explained what he did and why he did it," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR national deputy director, speaking during a news conference Wednesday on a larger spying operation uncovered during the investigation.

However, Mitchell says two former IPT informants have suggested money is the primary motivation for people who spy for the group.

Iqbal's attorney declined to comment.

Mitchell sought to reassure Ohio's Muslim community.

"We want to emphasize that there is absolutely no evidence that your community was targeted by anyone at all. Romin Iqbal didn't even really target the local Ohio community. His goal was to target national Muslim work. I just want to emphasize that to the community that of all the information we're sharing here, there is no indication that there's any other problem in Ohio or CAIR."

Mitchell also criticized Hilliard, Ohio, police for declining last month to pursue a criminal investigation into weapons sent to the group's suburban Ohio headquarters using a CAIR credit card.

"I would certainly say the local law enforcement needs to investigate that more seriously; needs to find out what was being done. Why were these weapons purchased? Was it Mr. Iqbal? And what was he doing with this weaponry? Those questions have still been unanswered."

WVXU has requested a statement from the department.

Mitchell's statements Wednesday were part of a larger news conference on the ongoing investigation into alleged spying by the IPT on CAIR and other Muslim organizations. CAIR says another man, Tariq Nelson, came forward as a former informant following the December announcement.

The Washington Post reported the update extensively Wednesday. You can read it here.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.