Driving Away Staff & Board Members

An inordinate number of CAIR’s former staff member erase their former affiliation with the group once they leave it.

CAIR is a high turn-over employee which is undoubtedly a result of Awad’s management style and dubious business practices.

Many of CAIR’s former employees were initially attracted by the group’s noble mission to defend Muslims. Once they join the organization they are disillusioned by the rampant abuse, sexism, administrative chaos which compels them to leave. However, more often than not, parting ways with Awad is highly conflictual and traumatic. The conflicts often end up in costly court battles. Understandably, many choose to erase their time at the organization from their subsequent resumés.

Below is a list of former employees and board members who departed CAIR under murky circumstances:

  • Parvez Ahmed, CAIR’s former board chairman, who resigned in 2008 after his calls for new leadership and more transparency were rejected by the board (which was controlled by Awad).
  • Jinan Shbat, a former national staffer, who spoke on the record to NPR about gender discrimination within CAIR’s national office.
  • Hassan Shibly, former head of CAIR-Florida, who resigned in January of 2021 in advance of a NPR story exposing a pattern of sexual harassment.
  • Susanne Arani, former CAIR-San Diego Staff Attorney, who sued CAIR for a hostile work environment, discrimination and retaliation, disparate treatment, and wrongful termination.
  • Rifat Malik, former CAIR-Dallas board member, who witnessed Nihad Awad intervening to fire the chapter’s newly-hired non-Muslim executive director and who filed a lawsuit in 2019 against CAIR in Texas court alleging abuse.
  • Lori Saroya, co-founder of CAIR-Minnesota who became a CAIR national board member and CAIR’s National Chapter Development Director, posted on Facebook extensively about corruption inside CAIR. (CAIR sued Saroya for defamation but was forced to withdraw the lawsuit.)
  • Mejgan Afshan, a former advocacy staffer in CAIR San Diego office, who filed discrimination lawsuit against CAIR-California in 2021.
  • Karen Hernandez, whose job offer as the CAIR-Dallas Fort Worth executive director was rescinded in 2018 after Nihad Awad objected to her hiring due to her religious background and work on domestic violence – this despite the fact that CAIR has no formal legal authority over its local chapters.
  • Morris Days, former staffer in CAIR’s Virginia office, who provided legal advice and legal services despite lacking a law degree – and whose actions became the basis of a fraud lawsuit by community members, which CAIR settled in 2019.
  • Tannaz Haddadi, CAIR’s former Training & Internship Director, left in 2001 after sending a detailed resignation letter to CAIR’s board chair about unaddressed religious discrimination in a “hostile environment” by senior staff – and Nihad Awad’s failure to address the situation. Her letter was signed by three former staffers as witnesses to the abuse: Joshua Salaam (CR Coordinator), Nancy Serag (Office Manager), Israe’a Abdul-Rahman (Exec Assistant).
  • Arselan Ifthikar, former National Legal Director and one-time prominent TV spokesperson for CAIR, who left in 2007 and immediately scrubbed most references to CAIR from his personal website as he re-branded himself.
  • Miriam Amer, former CAIR-Iowa staffer, who has posted on social media claiming CAIR’s national leadership mistreated her because of a disability, pushed her out even though she founded the chapter, and still owes her money.
  • Rabiah Ahmed, former Communications Manager from 2003 to 2007.

In addition, several former staffers and board members recruited by Nihad Awad have been arrested or deported during the War on Terror era:

  • Bassem Khafagi, CAIR’s former Community Affairs Director, pled guilty in 2003 to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt.
  • Randall “Ismail” Royer, former Communications Staffer, pled guilty in terrorism case in 2004.
  • Nabil Sadoun, former CAIR-Action Network board Vice-Chairman, who was ordered deported from United States for terror group ties in February of 2010 after suddenly resigning from board only three months earlier.