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The Minnesota Pioneer Press reports that Caribou Coffee has been forced to shutter two Illinois locations that were in heavily Jewish communities and were boycotted because of a rumor circulated via the Internet accusing the company of having links to a supporter of Islamic terrorism.

The e-mail, according to the paper, “alleged more than 88 percent of Caribou's publicly traded stock is controlled by a group of international investors that includes the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain,” and its affiliate, Crescent Capital of Atlanta. “At one time, a paid consultant to the bank, Yusuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi, was accused of making statements in support of terrorism outside of Palestinian territories,” the paper reports.

Caribou Coffee Chairman Michael Coles acknowledges that Al-Qaradawi had made such statements, and had been fired by the bank for making them. He says that the rumor that the company’s profits were supporting Islamic terrorists had emerged before, but that the company had been able to combat it successfully because the situation was resolved years ago.

Coles, who is Jewish, says the situation illustrates how an Internet “lie” or “rumor” can hurt a business' bottom line.
KC's View:
At the risk of seeming to promulgate untruths, we would point out that the use of the words “lie” and “rumor” may not be exactly accurate in this case.

Certainly the stories appear to be outdated and seemingly unfair. And we think that Caribou Coffee needs to defend itself vigorously. After all, we’ve all had past associations that we wish didn’t exist, but that’s reality. (Don’t get us started about some of our past associations…)