Ex-CAIR Leader Lori Saroya Suing CAIR For Defamation

Grab the popcorn, because things are going to get uglier for those Hamas-supporters at CAIR.

A controversial Islamic group — which the White House cut ties with after its director said he was “happy” about Hamas’ terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7 — is facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

The suit could see the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) forced to open its books amid claims secret foreign donors are funding its multi-million budget. 

Lori Saroya was once, in the words of one person who knows her, the “golden child” of CAIR.

Based in Blaine, Minnesota, where she was a CAIR chapter leader, Saroya became so important to the national leadership that they brought her to the White House and groomed her to become a senior leader because she was the group’s “pride and joy.”

Now Saroya, 42, is shaping up to be CAIR’s worst nightmare as she pushes back in an ugly legal battle with the controversial Muslim civil rights organization that includes charges of sex assault and harassment allegations involving several CAIR leaders.

Saroya, who is now the first Muslim to serve on the Blaine City Council, filed a federal defamation lawsuit against the group last week in federal court in Minnesota.

That suit was in response to a statement put out by CAIR in January 2022, accusing Saroya of “cyberstalking” CAIR staffers by using burner email and social media accounts to spread “Islamophobic tropes and conspiracy theories” about the organization.

In her complaint, Saroya said that the press release led to her being bullied online and made her so afraid that she stopped going to her mosque. She also said the allegations in the press release came up during job interviews and she wasn’t offered jobs by those people.

She has said she left CAIR after she called on the organization to look into sex assault and harassment allegations against several leaders, including one Saroya — who other members praise as “courageous” — said “engaged in a pattern of unwelcome and highly inappropriate conduct” toward her.

Saroya’s filing comes almost two years after CAIR dismissed its own federal defamation suit against Saroya in which leaders accused her of waging “a systemic and continuous internet smear campaign designed to damage [CAIR’s] reputation and to cause it severe economic harm.”

Saroya calls CAIR’s claims “outrageously false” in her own civil complaint and one of her lawyers wrote in the suit that all the organization’s accusations are “part of a concerted effort to blacken her reputation, destroy her credibility, and silence her and others who have raised serious concerns about CAIR’s abuse of women, dishonest practices, and violations of civil rights, among others.”

A former volunteer for CAIR, who did not want to be identified publicly, told The Post that she witnessed some of the same abusive behavior on the part of CAIR senior leadership that Saroya claims she did. She blamed Awad for engendering a culture of fear at CAIR which enables senior leaders to target staffers and volunteers, mainly women.

“It’s a power thing and Awad and some of the others see women as easy targets,” she said. “He’s running the organization and he has cult-like status so everyone does everything he wants. CAIR is also a legal organization so it’s full of lawyers. I was threatened. I had their head of litigation threatening me.

“The problem is that this is the only civil rights organization [Muslims] have,” she added. “So people think women like me and Lori should just accept all of this because there’s no one else if we undermine this organization. That’s why Lori is so courageous in pushing back.”

Saroya told The Post she could not comment while her legal case is pending other than emailing a statement saying her suit outlines CAIR’s “unfortunate record of sanctioning and indulging serious allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination within its organization, retaliating against women who raise these issues and engaging in profoundly dishonest conduct vis a vis the public, the Muslim-American Community and even its own Board.”

“CAIR’s defamatory statements about me were intended to intimidate not just me but others like me,” she stated in the email. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold CAIR and its leadership to account — something which has been much too long in coming.”

I don’t know too much about Lori, but I could not find anything problematic regarding her views on Jews and Israel. In fact, I did find these posts, that indicate she could be a friend of the Jews:

She’s certainly not like her former CAIR colleague Zahra Billoo.

My friend Anila Ali – who is also a friend of Israel – has thrown her support behind Lori, so that also puts me on Team Lori:

Besides, I am really enjoying her sticking it to CAIR like this:

Shortly after leaving us, Lori began to publicly and privately attack our civil rights organization. Her early behavior ranged from the petty (such as leaving negative reviews on the Facebook pages of nearly every CAIR chapter) to the disturbing (like accusing us of withholding reimbursements due to her). 

After months of her online attacks failed to harm us, Lori changed course. She hired Daniel Horowitz, an Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian attorney, to target us. Years earlier, Mr. Horowitz had tried to sue CAIR on behalf of far-right radio host Michael Savage.  

In 2019, Mr. Horowitz sent us a letter on behalf of Lori that accused us of being involved in an international terrorist conspiracy, among many other crimes. Horowitz threatened to ask the Trump Administration to target us unless we paid Lori over half a million dollars. He also threatened to edit, update and file Michael Savage’s old “RICO” lawsuit against us, this time on behalf of Lori.     

In response to our lawsuit, Lori secured a large and well-funded legal team with a new Islamophobic attorney: Jeffrey Robbins, a columnist and former ADL director who has praised anti-Islam extremist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, described Rep. Cori Bush and other members of Congress as the “Hamas Caucus,” and once defended a group accused of defaming a Massachusetts mosque.  

Scroll to Top