In April the Minnesota branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that retail giant Best Buy had become a “Platinum Sponsor” for its fifth anniversary banquet. And former U.S. Marine James Canning decided to do something about it.
In a YouTube video, the Iraq and Beirut veteran demonstrated his frustration with “one of his favorite stores” by cutting his Best Buy “Reward Zone” card in half.
“Because of this support Best Buy has been giving the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR, I can no longer conduct business with Best Buy.”
In an interview with the Daily Caller, Canning explained how his protest video came about.
“I read a news article on it on my Facebook page,” Canning said. “So I made my video. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing.”
“When you’ve got a company that supports an organization that supports terrorism,” Canning said of his boycott, “it’s kind of, in my opinion, asinine to do my business there.”
In an email, Best Buy spokesman Damon Gammon confirmed the company’s contribution to CAIR.
“Over the past two years,” Gammon said, “our Inter-Faith Employee Business Network, a group of employees focused on promoting diversity and inclusion at Best Buy, has supported CAIR-Minnesota with $1,450 in total contributions to support an annual banquet.”
Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at the Clarion Fund, a group that “produces and distributes documentaries on the threats of Radical Islam,” told TheDC that the relationship between the electronics giant and the Muslim advocacy group is a dangerous one.
“It legitimizes an organization that shouldn’t be legitimized. It funds a group that shouldn’t be funded,” Mauro said.
“It helps CAIR parade as a moderate force and it helps the group claim to be the representative of the Muslim community. Best Buy has done a disservice to anti-Islamist Muslims who are tired of having groups like CAIR talk on their behalf.”
According to the Middle East Forum, Best Buy’s public relations department has declined to rule out future support for CAIR — despite reminders of CAIR’s relationship with terror groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
CAIR is one of only three prominent Islamic organizations to be named unindicted co-conspirators in a case alleging criminal conspiracy to support Hamas.
In 2009, the FBI severed its own institutional ties with CAIR when evidence pointed to the group being a front for radical organizations operating within the United States. In one case, CAIR executive director Nihad Awad was shown to have participated in planning meetings with officials who had been convicted of funneling $12.4 million to Hamas through the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation.
Canning says the link is unambiguous. “CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood are connected, and they’re both funding and supporting Muslim extremists.”
CAIR did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but Best Buy doubled down on its support for the organization, telling TheDC that it is part of its corporate diversity initiatives.
“Best Buy’s customers and employees around the world represent a variety of faiths and denominations,” a spokesperson said in an email, “and we respect our employees’ efforts to constructively promote diversity and education in their communities.”
“Supporting CAIR, especially after you’ve been informed of what it really is, is not supporting diversity,” he said. “If I were a Muslim, I’d be offended that Best Buy would think the way to build relations with me is by giving a check to CAIR and bragging about it.”
Canning believes financial support for organizations with ties to radical Islamists has a direct impact on the lives of U.S. servicemen and women.
“That money gets funneled over to wherever it’s going, which is used to buy supplies, weapons, to pay extremists,” Canning said, who “use what they have against U.S. interests and personnel.”
But while the former Marine said he had seen “Islamic extremists” while deployed in the Middle East, “It’s not the actual Muslims that are the problem. It’s the extremists.”
The Clarion Fund has turned up the heat in recent weeks with an online petition to boycott Best Buy over its support of CAIR. The petition has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.
But Canning said he’s less interested in harming the company than in doing what he says is the right thing.
“One person — I don’t think I’m going to make any difference to Best Buy,” he told TheDC.
“Myself, my family, we won’t shop there anymore.”
UPDATE 6:30 p.m. EDT: An online petition described in this story was removed from its host website, Petitionbuzz.com, after The Daily Caller reported on it. TheDC is attempting to reach Aviram Ben Moshe, Petitionbuzz’s founder and manager, to learn why. Ben Moshe is based in Israel.
UPDATE 7:40 p.m. EDT: After The Daily Caller reached out to Petitionbuzz Friday evening, the petition has been restored.
David Martosko contributed reporting.