Born in Damascus, Syria, Kareem W. Shora earned a J.D. degree from the West Virginia University College of Law, and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law. He subsequently served as a legal associate at the West Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the West Virginia University Immigration Law Clinical Program, and the Columbia Energy Corporate Law Department.
From 1999-2009, Shora worked with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), where he held such titles as legal advisor, legal director, and national executive director. In these roles, he commonly joined the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Islamic supremacist groups in lobbying against the Bush administration’s anti-terror initiatives. Further, Shora co-authored three separate editions of the ADC’s Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans. He also assisted in producing Wrong Then, Wrong Now: Racial Profiling Before and After September 11, a 2002 report by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). And in 2004, Shora helped put together an updated edition of LCCR’s Cause for Concern: Hate Crimes in America.
In 2008 the Ford Foundation selected Shora to be a member of its Foreign Policy Task Force, which was designing a so-called “Laboratory for New Thinking on Foreign Policy.” That same year, the Police Foundation named Shora to its Advisory Board, which was examining the role that local police should play in the enforcement of immigration law. And in 2008 as well, Shora was an occasional blogger on the website of Obama For America (later known as Organizing For America).
During Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, Shora exhorted the U.S. to stop shipping weapons to the Jewish state because innocent Lebanese civilians were “getting hurt by the bombs that we’re sending over there.”
In June 2009, President Barack Obama‘s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed Shora to serve on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Four months later, Shora commenced his duties as the senior policy advisor for DHS’s Community Engagement Section. He was also named to the “Heritage Community Liaison Council” in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In 2009 as well, Shora claimed that Muslim charities were too often subjected to “undue scrutiny” by law-enforcement agencies seeking to thwart the funding of terrorist groups.
The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Central District of California) certified Shora as an expert witness on “xenophobia and anti-Arab discrimination,” a credential that earned him numerous invitations to speak as a subject-matter expert on such themes as tolerance, diversity, integration, civil rights, civil liberties, and immigration policies.
In July 2016, Shora called it an “unfortunate reality” that Muslims were often portrayed as being “more vulnerable” to “potential recruitment to terrorist activities…including those represented by Daesh [ISIS].” To counter such depictions, Shora explained, he and his DHS colleagues were striving to “promote the notion” that (a) Muslims were no likelier than anyone else to be recruited into terrorism, and (b) ISIS did not represent authentic Islam:
“Daesh represents nothing of Islam or a state for that matter, quote unquote. So I think our position, as U.S. government, is to advocate that point every opportunity we get. And from a Homeland Security perspective, in order to build a society that’s resilient to all threats, regardless of the nature of that threat, our job is to make sure that these communities don’t end up being categorized as being vulnerable, because they are in fact the ones most suffering as a result of those attacks.”
During his tenure with DHS as well, Shora helped a number of leading Islamist figures — including Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America — gain admission to DHS meetings.
At different times during his professional career, Shora has worked in academia. For instance, he was a guest lecturer at the Yale University School of Law, and a professor of foreign policy in the American University Washington Semester Program. His writings have appeared in such publications as the National Law Journal, TRIAL Magazine, the Georgetown University Law Center’s Journal on Poverty Law and Public Policy, the Harvard University JFK School of Government’s Asian American Policy Review, the American Bar Association’s Air and Space Lawyer, and Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, among others.
Shora has been a frequent on-air guest at many national and international media outlets, including Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC, National Public Radio, and Pacifica Radio. Moreover, he has testified before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other major international human-rights bodies.
Shora received the American Immigration Lawyers Association‘s Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award in 2003. He is listed as a “friend and ally” of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and he has spoken at the National Lawyers Guild‘s Annual Conference.
Further Reading: “Kareem Shora” (PSU.edu); “Obama’s Muslim Outreach, Kareem Shora And The Department Of Homeland Security” (PipelineNews.org, 11-3-2009); “DHS Hires CAIR to Train French Officials” (by Steven Emerson, IPT News, 12-14-2016).