Major US Muslim group cancels Virginia banquet over bomb and death threats


A national Muslim civil rights group is moving its annual banquet out of a Virginia hotel that received bomb and death threats the group said Wednesday may be linked to its concern for Palestinians caught in the Israel-Hamas war. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) cancelled plans to hold its 29th annual banquet on Saturday at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, where it has held events for the past decade, and will instead move it to an as-yet undisclosed location with heightened security, a CAIR statement said. “In recent days, according to the Marriott, anonymous callers have threatened to plant bombs in the hotel’s parking garage, kill specific hotel staff in their homes, and storm the hotel in a repeat of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol if the events moved forward,” the statement said.

Arlington police and the FBI are investigating, CAIR said. Arlington police said in an email that the department was investigating a Thursday morning report from the hotel that it received anonymous phone calls, “some referencing threats to bomb,” regarding the CAIR event. Emails seeking comment from the FBI and the Marriott hotel chain were not immediately answered late Thursday night. A separate banquet planned for October 28 in Maryland also was cancelled and will be merged with the October 21 event, CAIR said.

The threats came after CAIR updated banquet programming to focus on human rights issues for Palestinians. The group has started an online campaign urging Congressional members to promote a ceasefire in Gaza. “We strongly condemn the extreme and disgusting threats against our organization, the Marriott hotel and its staff,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, who is Palestinian American, said in a statement. “We will not allow the threats of anti-Palestinian racists and anti-Muslim bigots who seek to dehumanise the Palestinian people and silence American Muslims to stop us from pursuing justice for all.” Hamas militants from the blockaded Gaza Strip stormed into nearby Israeli towns on October 7, which coincided with a major Jewish holiday. The attack killed hundreds of civilians. Since then, Israel has launched airstrikes on Gaza, destroying entire neighbourhoods and killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians.


There have been concerns the war will inspire violence in the U.S. Last week, police in major cities increased patrols, authorities put up fencing around the U.S. Capitol and some schools closed. But law enforcement officials stressed there were no credible threats in the U.S.