Dawud Walid is the executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and is one of the organization’s most visible spokesmen. He is also an active member of the North American Imams Federation, and serves as assistant imam of Masjid Wali Muhammad, a Detroit-area mosque with close ties to the Nation of Islam (NOI). In February 2007, Walid attended a press conference to welcome NOI leader Louis Farrakhan to Detroit.
At a pro-Hezbollah rally in August 2006 [during the Israel-Hezbollah war], Walid charged that “American tax dollars” were “being used to pay for those [Israeli] bombs that are killing innocent civilians in Lebanon.” That same month, Walid described an anti-Israel screed titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”—written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt—as a “groundbreaking paper” that “illustrate[s] how American foreign policy and interests have been adversely affected by blind allegiance to Israeli interests.”
In June 2007, Walid gave a speech at the American Moslem Society (a.k.a. Masjid Dearborn), titled “Know Your Rights,” where he told his listeners how they could avoid being surveilled and questioned by the FBI. Walid has advised U.S. Muslims numerous times against providing information to the FBI except in cases where the law absolutely requires them to do so.
Also in June 2007, Walid explained that suicide bombings were understandable reactions to the transgressions of “the people who oppress Muslims,” and that Muslims had “no other choice but to defend [them]selves” in that manner.
Walid supported the now-defunct American affiliate of the Al-Mabarrat Association (AMA), a pseudo-charity headed by the late Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, then-spiritual leader of Hezbollah. When AMA’s U.S. office was raided by the FBI on July 24, 2007, Walid urged fellow Muslims to continue donating money not only to that group, but also to Life for Relief and Development, a “partner” organization to numerous entities with terror ties, including Human Concern International, the Jerusalem Fund, ICNA Helping Hand, Islamic Relief, and Human Appeal International. Walid called it “unfortunate” that “these charities … continue to have suspicion cast over them” in what amounted to a “bogus situation” for Muslims in America.
When Israel countered a sustained barrage of Hamas rocket attacks with a December 2008 military incursion into Gaza, Walid characterized the Jewish state’s action as “a massacre” that “was definitely a disproportionate response to a few cheap, homemade, makeshift rockets being fired across the border” (into Israel).
In response to a 2009 indictment of four Bronx men for plotting to attack a synagogue and the New York Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, Walid accused the FBI of “manufacturing their own terrorism suspects to give the appearance that they’re actually doing something tangible in the so called ‘War on Terrorism.’” By arresting such low-level “petty criminals” for their “so-called terror plot,” Walid said, the FBI was “cultivating and inciting people towards extremism.” Notably, all four defendants were later convicted on serious, terrorism-related charges.
In a 2009 radio interview, Walid spoke in defense of the so-called “Liberty City Seven”—seven members of a small Miami-based religious group who had been arrested three years earlier on suspicion of plotting to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI building in North Beach, Florida. According to Walid, those arrests were part of the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to “entrap” Muslims. (Five of the seven defendants were ultimately convicted of agreeing to provide material support to al-Qaeda, conspiring to destroy buildings, and conspiring to levy war against the U.S. government.)
Also in 2009, Walid said that “Christians who are white have been the biggest domestic terrorists” in the United States, adding that “there has never been one terrorist attack that has been launched in the United States of America that was committed by a Muslim who’s an American citizen.” (But this was untrue; four of the individuals convicted for their roles in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings were U.S. citizens.) Walid has similarly denied that the 9/11 hijackers were affiliated with any U.S. mosques, but the 9/11 Commission revealed that several of them indeed had close interactions with such mosques.
Walid has twice traveled abroad on trips paid for by the U.S. State Department. During one of those trips—a 2010 excursion to Mali—he publicly complained that since 9/11, Muslims in America “have been subjected to increased discrimination from racial and religious profiling by law-enforcement.” “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry,” he said, were among “the greatest social ills facing American today.” Those ills were caused, he said, by the “pro-Israeli occupation lobby” that viewed “the political empowerment of American Muslims” as “a direct threat to Israel.” Further, Walid condemned police for having shot and killed a Detroit imam who had opened fire on them and ignored orders to lay down his weapon and surrender; that same imam had previously advised his followers never to surrender peacefully to law-enforcement authorities, stating that the FBI recruited more extremists than al-Qaeda.
When the FBI in September 2010 raided the homes of several terror suspects in Illinois and Minnesota, Walid characterized them as “peace activists” who were targets of “a witch hunt” designed “to chill the 1st Amendment rights of Americans.”
In January 2011, Walid joined imams from 20 Michigan mosques in a meeting with FBI officials to discuss their concerns about the Bureau’s surveillance of Muslim houses of worship.
In a January 2012 speech, Walid said that a 7th-century massacre of Jews at the hands of the Prophet Muhammad’s army represented the “correct” form of “punishment” for the “treason” the Jews had committed by siding “with the polytheists against the believers.”
By Walid’s reckoning, Hamas, which is irrevocably sworn to the destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews, deserves to participate in any and all “peace talks” with Israel. This, says Walid, is because Hamas “represents the elected government of the Palestinian people during a fair election.”
In December 2017, Walid was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that attorney Shereef Akeel filed against U.S. President Donald Trump and two members of his cabinet. Condemning “the Trump Administration’s regular and vulgar attacks against Islam and Muslims,” and its “multipronged attempt to demonize Islam and marginalize Muslims in the United States,” the suit challenged an executive order by which Trump was seeking to temporarily suspend all travel visas to the United States for people hailing from six Muslim-majority countries that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. Other plaintiffs in the case included such notables as Linda Sarsour, Rashida Tlaib, and Nihad Awad.