In today's Washington Post print edition, a headline blares, "Netanyahu rules out Gaza Cease Fire."
But in fact, as a Reuters dispatch this morning shows, it is Hamas that is preventing a cease fire. Rather than stop firing dozens of rockets at Israeli civilians each day, Hamas terrorists vow to up the ante. "The armed wing of the Hamas movement has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression, and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben-Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today because it also hosts a military air base," the Islamist group's Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement cited by Reuters.
So here we have Hamas clearly stating that it will not cease firing rockets into Israel, and it will in fact escalate its terrorist attacks to include trying to blow up Israeli civilian airliners. Moreover, all through the Israeli ordeal during the period when its three teens were abducted, the Post kept a steady drumbeat demanding to know the exact evidence of the Israeli government's claim that Hamas was behind the attack, as if the Israeli government answered to the haughty Washington Post . When during the same period, Palestinian and Hamas officials repeatedly claimed that Israel "staged" the abduction and also the executions of the teens, you could barely find those incendiary allegations in the Post, likely because the Post wanted to protect the Palestinians from being accused of disseminating outrageous propaganda that would damage their credibility (and thus ruin the Post's ability to quote them in the future).
But in today's story, the Post accepts as fact a third party claim about an alleged Israeli attack on a home in Gaza killing all civilians without providing any evidence. Israel "leveled" a house" in Gaza killing all seven family members, the story said. And the evidence? "According to a neighbor, the Israeli military had telephoned the intended target, a Hamas rocket engineer named Yassir al-Haj, and warned him that his house was about to be destroyed. But Haj was not at home. He dialed his sleeping family but could not rouse them, according to the neighbor and an Israeli missile killed seven family members ... 'Why kill everyone in the house for just one guy?' said the neighbor, Fahad al-Dali."
Now, what's wrong with this picture? The Post reporter did not question why a Hamas terrorist intentionally placed his family as human shields, an internationally recognized war crime. The reporter accepted as fact the rather dubious allegation that the Hamas terrorist "could not rouse" his family.
Where is the evidence that the Post reporter had obtained for that allegation? We have seen Hamas officials encouraging people to ignore Israeli warnings of an impending strike and risk their lives as human shields. This wasn't mentioned in the cease fire story.
It does acknowledge that Hamas "hides its weapons in neighborhoods and launches rockets from back yards and agricultural fields," yet offers readers no cause to be skeptical of the Hamas commander's third-hand account.
We know that Hamas lies all the time. The Washington Post seems uninterested in showing that.
Former counter-terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has become the nation's pre-eminent "truth squad" in analyzing, dissecting and debunking the mainstream media's campaign, seemingly in collusion with Islamist groups, numerous federal and local counter-terrorism programs and operations that are portrayed as anti-Muslim, as illegal for "spying on Americans," and for the use of informants which both the media and Muslim Brotherhood front groups have virulently attacked as either illegally violating the privacy rights of Americans or for "instigating" Islamic terrorist plots.
In a recently-published article on National Review Online, McCarthy once again demonstrates his sheer brilliance in rebutting the manifold falsehoods in the recent series of articles in the Associated Press as well as National Public Radio for their demonstrably false allegations of NYPD improprieties in their extensive and elaborate counter-terrorist program that emphasizes the primacy of good intelligence as the first line of defense in stopping terrorism.
There's a lot of debate surrounding the new book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America. As we reported Thursday, it offers an insider's account to the operations of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), finding among other things that the organization exaggerates its reach and actively works against law enforcement.
Readers of our site should know we don't trust CAIR and believe there's a long trail of documented proof that it deceives the American public about its true agenda. Now comes word from CAIR that spokesman Ibrahim Hooper received a death threat.
Let's be clear. Regardless of how we view CAIR, death threats are a despicable form of criminal behavior. As someone who has received numerous death threats, I condemn this incident.
Recently, we lightly mocked the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its quick condemnation of Al-Qaeda No. 2 man Ayman Al-Zawahiri's slur of President-Elect Barack Obama as a "house Negro." Way to take the hard stand, folks.
Our point was serious though. If CAIR wants to be accepted as the mainstream Muslim-American civil rights advocacy organization that it claims to be, it must take an unequivocal stand against terror from all actors, including those who kill, and those who enable the killers, in the name of Palestinian liberation.
It has never done so. And evidence unveiled at the Hamas-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) shows why. CAIR was born of an effort to support Hamas in America – its founders part of the Palestine Committee who agreed in 1993 that a prospective peace deal was bad and who saw the need for a new organization to bring their message, surreptitiously, to Washington.
HLF now stands guilty of routing more than $12 million to benefit Hamas through a series of Palestinian charities. As witnesses like Matthew Levitt and Bruce Hoffman testified, that support – even when channeled to humanitarian needs – is crucial in winning popular support for the terrorist group responsible for it.
And, as the evidence made clear, the view about HLF and the charities it supported was not merely an Israeli belief. Palestinian Authority security documents reach the same conclusion. That took away a key defense argument from the first HLF trial, which ended in a mistrial last year.
Quite simply, it is time to move past the reflexive and discredited denials. If CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) want to show that we're wrong when we consider them terror apologists, they can start by offering unequivocal endorsements of the jury's verdict and their respect for the justice system even when it disappoints them.
Don't hold your breath. On Wednesday, CAIR issued a brief statement:
It took them two days for them to come up with that.
Despite CAIR's years of alleging a conspiracy of Islamophobes and Zionists plotting against them, Monday's verdict shows there is no such thing. There are, however, facts and damning exhibits that show HLF's support of Hamas was a not-so-hidden secret. When they defended HLF, they defended that agenda. That evidence has not been contested and cannot be after jurors found it to be incontrovertible.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, which is dedicated to combating the Islamist influence in American politics and culture, issued a statement hailing the verdict and challenging those who seek to case this as a campaign victimizing the American Muslim community:
The time has come as well for a renewed scrutiny of the HLF evidence as it pertains to the group's defenders and the case's many unindicted co-conspirators such as ISNA and CAIR. The same holds true for HLF defenders like MPAC and the Muslim American Society (MAS). Government agencies, both at the federal, state and local level, Jewish and Christian groups engaging in interfaith dialogue with MPAC or ISNA all need to reassess the credibility of their outreach partners. In CAIR's case, the organization remains under the leadership of Nihad Awad and chairman emeritus Omar Ahmad, the Palestine Committee members who participated in a pivotal 1993 meeting of Hamas members and sympathizers to plot a strategy to derail the American-led peace initiative. When asked about his attendance, Awad later told FBI agents he could not recall being at the meeting, a brazen lie that is also a federal crime in lying to law enforcement.
What kind of dialogue can you have with people who cannot condemn terrorist groups or embrace the product of the American justice system?
Contrast this with the response when jurors deadlocked in the first HLF trial. CAIR and other American Islamist organizations couldn't get their releases out fast enough. The lack of a verdict, we were told over and over again, was proof that terror-financing cases were misguided wastes of government money. CAIR's release last year touted the jury's verdict:
"Against heavy odds, the American justice system has prevailed once again," then-CAIR Chairman Parvez Ahmed wrote after the mistrial.
When the Treasury Department shut HLF down in 2001 for its support of Hamas, CAIR joined with ISNA, MPAC, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and others to blast the move as "an unjust and counterproductive move that can only damage America's credibility with Muslims in this country and around the world and could create the impression that there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam."
ISNA and MPAC issued their own releases following last year's mistrial. ISNA hailed "the hard work and diligence that the jury has put into deliberating the evidence presented in the federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and other defendants." MPAC took a more nuanced, wait-and-see approach, but said shutting down HLF contributed to "the lack of relief and aid organizations operating in the Palestinian territories [which] directly exacerbates the humanitarian crisis. In effect, the US government is oftentimes seen as turning a blind eye to the economic, medical and political crises in Palestine."
If a retrial led to acquittals, MPAC called for prosecutors to reconsider "naming over a hundred individuals and organizations as un-indicted coconspirators in the case."
Now that a different outcome is in hand, MPAC issued a statement cautioning "against allowing the case's outcome to undermine the partnership Muslim American organizations have built with government agencies to promote Muslim American political participation, improve global U.S.-Muslim world relations, and enhance our national security."
There was no endorsement of the verdict or the rule of law. "The verdict came as a surprise," the statement said.
The Muslim American Society (MAS) issued a statement that questions the jury's overwhelming decision.
"It is amazing how two different juries can hear the same evidence and come up with a different conclusion," said MAS Freedom Executive Director Mahdi Bray.
Not exactly a "we respect the jury's decision" moment, is it? Let's be generous and assume Bray wasn't paying attention to the retrial, because this jury saw very different evidence from the first. This trial featured a former HLF insider, who told jurors he knew his support for HLF would benefit Hamas. They heard from Hoffman, a renowned terror expert, who told jurors that a social support network like that supported by HLF was pivotal in the history of all successful terrorist movements.
Government officials should treat CAIR the same way they treat Hamas. No negotiation and no recognition until it denounces terrorism and the specific organizations that carry it out in the name of Palestinian liberation, denounce Hamas by name and endorse a peaceful solution that founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad so clearly opposed in Philadelphia.
Finally, a note about courage. We congratulate federal prosecutors Barry Jonas, Elizabeth Shapiro and James Jacks and the FBI agents on the case for their perseverance and the series of key adjustments they made. We congratulate Department of Justice officials who saw that the HLF case – and the millions of dollars sent to a terrorist group that actively seeks to thwart American policy and, by extension, American security – was worth fighting for, despite a well-oiled public relations campaign by HLF's Islamist friends.
But last week's verdict would not have been possible without the heart of Kristina Williams, the juror in last year's mistrial who refused to cave in to bullying and brow-beating from a fellow juror intent on acquitting. Williams had no stake in the case but she refused to compromise on her values and her focus on what the evidence showed. Americans owe this woman a debt of gratitude.
The verdict Williams helped make possible proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the evidence of support for terrorism against the HLF defendants was incontrovertible and not the results of a "US-Zionist" conspiracy as their defenders alleged.
To CAIR, MPAC, MAS and ISNA, the bad image problem for Muslims that you so often complain about is not the result of bad media or racism or terrorist experts like me, who you constantly blame as the source of Islam's image problems in the U.S. The image problem is a product of Islamic extremism and terrorism that you fail to genuinely condemn. It is most focused on CAIR. When NBC journalist Jim Popkin asked Ibrahim Hooper in a telephone interview whether Hooper or CAIR condemns Hamas or Hizballah as terrorist groups by name, Ibrahim simply hung up the phone. When FOX News reporter David Lee Miller asked a CAIR official if they would condemn Hamas and Hizballah by name, the CAIR official pointedly refused.
You do not have an image problem. You have a problem documented in the foundation of your organization and the continued leadership provided by people who worked to derail hopes for peace and lie to the American people about it. You cannot change that reality or truly serve the cause you espouse until you come clean.
Those who wish to realize change, good or bad, can choose different weapons. There are those who choose the pen and there are those who choose the sword. Brett A. McCrea's new book analyzes the latter category, focusing on how the figurative sword of terrorism is wielded.
Just over seven years since 9/11, books on terrorism that are useful to counterterrorism practitioners, policymakers (at all levels), and students alike are few and far between. Those Who Choose the Sword, presents vital analysis relevant to all three audiences, however this book is literally a must-read for practitioners and policymakers at the local and state levels. McCrea, a veteran intelligence analyst and professor at Wilmington University, has written a book that is unique in its pragmatic and apolitical answers to how terrorist groups conduct targeting and organization. These are two basic and necessary questions – presented here as analytical frameworks – that are all too often overlooked. I have found in my many years studying terrorism and radical Islam that these fundamental issues are often misunderstood and even ignored by the people that need to understand them the most. As McCrea observes, this was his reasoning for writing this book.
McCrea explains early on that he is trying to close a dangerous knowledge gap. He notes that academic work on terrorist focuses on the "what and why" in a high-minded way that is pertinent only to high-level policy makers and other academics. Media reports on terrorism also focus on the "what and why," but are fraught with emotion that clouds informative and useful reporting and analysis. McCrea was troubled by what he saw as a gap between academic study of terrorism and media reporting. In that gap exists the most important actors in counterterrorism – state and local decision makers who are not helped either by existing academic studies or sales-minded media reporting.
McCrea demonstrates that just because the issues he explores are basic to the understanding of terrorism that does not mean they are simple to interpret. His analysis achieves academic precision and detail without being dull. He has based this slim and accessible volume on an in-depth study of terrorist motivations, targeting, organizational theory, recruitment, training, financing, recruitment, training, logistics, propaganda and public statements, military doctrine, and – crucially – insurgency theory. His case studies focus on three organizations, the Irish Republican Army, Hizballah, and Al Qaeda. McCrea's stated purpose, to create two analytical frameworks for decision makers to understand the workings of terrorist groups, is admirably fulfilled.
McCrea has achieved a winning analysis and format in this fine book. I, for one, would feel safer if I knew this book was on the book shelf of every police force, city councilperson, JTTF, DA, mayor, and governor in America. I also suspect that this book will stimulate needed debate and conversation about how terrorist groups should be perceived and countered.
According to the reports, a presidential advisor from the United Arab Emirates urged attendees to "to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism," adding "I can speak to pacifists but not bellicists, who are in favor of war."
Rabbi Marc Schneier, chairman of the World Jewish Congress in North America, responded, saying "Israel is not a political issue... If you want to understand Judaism, then you need to understand that Israel is a core issue of our religion."
Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel in Lawrence, N.Y., went further, telling a New York Sun reporter that the comments were anti-Semitic, representing "the same old rhetoric that has led to more hatred and the building of a wall between the Jews and the Muslims for the last 60 years."
Here's hoping that the episode opens more eyes than just Rosenbaum's. After all, if Jewish leaders such as Schneier, David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee legitimize these meetings with their presence, how can representatives of any other faith challenge their wisdom? The same holds true for interfaith dialogue back home in America.
The Madrid conference is the latest in a long line of so-called interfaith dialogue initiatives between various leaders of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It was sponsored by the Saudi monarch and organized by a man who justifies Palestinian suicide bombings and is alleged to have links to a senior Al Qaeda financier. (See "Organizer's Past Raises Questions About Madrid Interfaith Conference" for background.)
Now come new disclosures that the principal partner in domestic outreach, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, the 80-year-old Egyptian society from which virtually all Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, emerge. The Brotherhood's long range goal is to make Islam dominant throughout the world, not to seek a path to mutual understanding.
The time for ignoring these links or blaming the messenger has passed. It is a time for pointed questions, answered publicly. Those Jewish leaders, ever desperate to forge any common ground with self-styled mainstream Muslim organizations, must examine these new disclosures and explain why they believe in continued dialogue with people who are blatantly deceiving them.
They must challenge their outreach partners for credible explanations. At a time when Sami Al-Arian admits he was in the Muslim Brotherhood when ISNA was created, and that he co-founded ISNA, as the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported Tuesday, it's time to stop the "dialogue" and demand real answers.
Schneier, a participant at the aforementioned Madrid conference, and Eric Yoffie of the Union of Reform Judaism, are cases in point. Both have bent over backward to whitewash ISNA, currently named an unindicted co-conspirator by the government in a HAMAS financing trial in Dallas against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
As reported in the New York Sun, on the topic of ISNA, the major Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group in the U.S.:
So the leading exporter of Wahabbi Islam, who refused to invite any Israelis (the one rabbi with Israeli citizenship at the conference, the AJC's David Rosen, was listed on the program as an American), let alone have the conference on Saudi soil, is somehow a voice of moderation. Adding to his "moderate" credentials, Abdullah invited a radical, pro-Islamist Jewish leader who attended the Iranian president's 2006 Holocaust denial conference:
Given that, how surprising is it to learn that the Madrid conference featured former neo-Nazi leader William Baker? There is no report of any protest for Baker's inclusion. The Associated Press quoted Rosen after the conference opened:
Michael Lerner, editor of the liberal Tikkun magazine. Lerner wrote a fairly glowing assessment of the conference's opening, acknowledging dramatic change could take years, but finding the Madrid meeting a key step in the right direction:
In an email to Lerner shared with the IPT, Ali Alyami, the executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, told the rabbi's his high hopes were not warranted:
True, one can find this statement, "ISNA rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by HAMAS, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration" on ISNA's website. ISNA rather slyly only generally "rejects" the violent acts: its officials refuse to condemn both groups, will not label either as terrorist organizations, but instead refer to HAMAS favorably as the "democratically-elected Palestinian government." ISNA studiously ignores the HAMAS Charter, a virulently anti-Semitic tract which states that, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" and the fact that violent jihad is a core principal of HAMAS and Hezbollah. More on this below, as ISNA's own website contains similar anti-Jewish sentiments.
And unfortunately for Schneier and Yoffie, their timing on ISNA's alleged evolution and condemnation of terrorist groups, respectively, could not have been worse. Just last week, in documents presented in the HLF case, federal prosecutors said of ISNA:
As I have previously reported, ISNA's support of HAMAS is not merely financial, but the group was also a vocal supporter of HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, using the pages of its magazine, Islamic Horizons, to both whitewash HAMAS' bloody history and engage in thinly veiled anti-Semitism. For example, in the November/December 1995 issue of Islamic Horizons, almost a full year after HAMAS was officially designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, an article titled "Muslim Leader Hostage to Israeli Interests" characterized Marzook as:
And, more than two years after HAMAS' designation as a terrorist group, in the September/October 1997 issue, Islamic Horizons published an article describing Marzook as:
This is an almost unbelievable contention, if not for the fact that it was uttered by the house organ of a major Muslim Brotherhood front organization.
Now, despite the documented evidence, ISNA says it has no connection – and indeed that it never had any connection – to the Muslim Brotherhood. And apparently Rabbi Schneier not only takes the group's word – again, in face of the actual evidence – but claims that ISNA has somehow "evolved." Since ISNA unabashedly claims no connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, it is true the group has evolved, just not in the way Schneier suggests, since the transparent lies of ISNA's leadership have grown even bolder, which is an evolution of sorts.
And ISNA's ties to the most virulent anti-Israel terrorist groups are hardly the only complication when it comes to "interfaith dialogue," especially with Jews, despite Rabbi Yoffie's assurances to the contrary.
A cursory look at the "library" page on ISNA's website includes the following passages about Jews (as well as four other, similar in nature to those in the HAMAS Charter) used to justify extremist violence against both Israelis and Jews around the world by the most radical of Islamist terrorists:
Perhaps Schneier and Yoffie are unaware of ISNA's invocation of this Hadith – which plainly states that Muslims need to kill the Jews to bring about the end of times. Or perhaps they are aware, but choose to look the other way. Either way, pining for the mass slaughter of Jews by Muslims to usher in paradise should be a disqualifier for any sort of interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Jews.
Schneier, who has a history of failed outreach efforts, should know better. In November 2006, he attempted "interfaith dialogue" with a leader of the largest mosque in New York, with less than optimum results:
Actual constructive interfaith dialogue can only come when Islamist groups own up to their past and present support for terrorist groups. For ISNA's part, only after a sort of "truth and reconciliation" construct, in which the group's leadership admits its history of support for HAMAS, former U.S.-based HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, and various and sundry other Palestinian and Islamist terror organizations (all documented by federal prosecutors, by the way) should the organization begin to earn trust. Indeed, the various Jewish representatives who overlook these ties in the name of "interfaith dialogue," themselves are engaged in a huge disservice to everyone who deplores Islamist terrorism and extremism, and have no place as religious or community leaders.
 "US Muslim coalition condemns Israeli action in Gaza," The Muslim News, July 11, 2006, http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=11322.
The Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) roots in the Muslim Brotherhood have been strengthened by newly declassified FBI memos and from a second, highly unlikely source.
The records, recently obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism through Freedom of Information Act requests, show that FBI agents investigated a parent organization to ISNA, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), during the mid 1980s.
The FBI investigation concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood members who founded U.S.-based groups had risen to "leadership roles within NAIT and its related organizations," including ISNA, "which means they are in a position to direct the activities and support of Muslims in the U.S. for the Islamic Revolution." The FBI memo also said that:
The FBI memos date back to 1987-88. Dozens of pages of the released files are redacted in their entirety. But others contradict ISNA claims that it "never was, and is not now, affiliated with or influenced by any international organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood." Furthermore, ISNA still considers NAIT an affiliated organization. ISNA's president is an ex-officio NAIT board member and Muzammil Siddiqi, NAIT's chairman, serves on ISNA's governing board.
NAIT holds the deeds to more than a quarter of the mosques in the United States and continuously seeks to build on that volume.
The dispute is important as ISNA officials assert that the organization is a voice of moderation in the American Muslim community, actively courting outreach and dialogue with government officials and leaders of other religions. ISNA President Ingrid Mattson was among the organization's representatives at last week's international interfaith conference in Madrid. As the IPT reported last week, conference organizer Abdullah al-Turki is alleged in civil lawsuits to have ties to a senior Al Qaeda financier and has openly justified Palestinian suicide bombings.
ISNA's denials, however, are challenged by the Chicago Tribune, federal prosecutors in Dallas, internal Muslim Brotherhood documents and the newly declassified FBI memos. ISNA officials have ignored those reports or denied their legitimacy. Their most recent denial came in the wake of a mistrial in the first HLF trial last October. A retrial is scheduled for September.
But in the past month, ISNA co-founder and convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian acknowledges that he was a Muslim Brotherhood member in 1981 – the year ISNA formed. Click here and read paragraph 6 on page 5, then see Al-Arian's biography to see his claim that he is an ISNA founder.
In his June 24 affidavit, Al-Arian admits for the first time that his former charity, the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) advocated for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a fact he heatedly denied for more than a decade. ICP conferences routinely featured leaders of the PIJ and other terrorist groups.
Similarly, the FBI concluded that ISNA conferences in the 1980s "provided opportunities for the extreme fundamentalist Muslims to meet with their supporters."
Among the recently declassified FBI memos, NAIT activities are described:
ISNA and NAIT are fighting their continued inclusion as unindicted co-conspirators in the Hamas-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five former officials. In a recent rebuttal, prosecutors listed a series of checks routed by ISNA to HLF, often dedicated for "Palestinian Mujahideen" in the memo line. The military wing of Hamas initially was referred to as the Palestinian Mujahideen, prosecutors said.
Internal documents released at the trial show ISNA's founders had been leaders of the Muslim Students Association, which also was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members who came to the U.S. for college. In addition to introducing all the financial transactions between ISNA/NAIT and HLF, prosecutors introduced a Muslim Brotherhood "Explanatory Memorandum" on the group's goals, as the document explains:
ISNA is the first U.S.-based organization listed under a section titled "A list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends."
In their brief, prosecutors continue in describing the Explanatory Memorandum:
The documented links between ISNA and the Muslim Brotherhood have reached critical mass. While it is not illegal to be a part of the Brotherhood, ISNA knows its credibility is at stake here. It appears to have dug in its heels too deeply.
In an ironic twist, an international interfaith conference set to start Wednesday in Madrid was organized by a man accused of working with a senior Al Qaeda financier and who unabashedly supports Palestinian suicide bombings.
Abdullah al-Turki is organizing the conference on behalf of the Muslim World League (MWL), where he is secretary general. The MWL was created by the Saudi royal family in 1962 to "promote Islamic unity" and spread Wahhabi doctrine. Wahhabism is an austere form of Islam that seeks to realize the faith as it was practiced by Muhammad and his Companions, barren of the innovations and traditions that arose in the centuries since.
The conference is expected to attract more than 100 people from more than 50 countries. But it is a previous Madrid venture by al-Turki that raises questions about the conference. In 1999, al-Turki was a partner in a Madrid construction project with a senior Al Qaeda financier, a pending lawsuit claims. Profits from that deal were routed to Al Qaeda cells, according to allegations in WTC Properties v. Al Baraka et. al.
The lawsuit argues that, without the financial support from the banks, charities and other entities targeted, the 9/11 attacks may not have taken place. Similar allegations were made in at least three other lawsuits. In court papers, Al Turki has disputed the lawsuit's allegations and has argued that none of his actions were intended to support terrorist activities.
Organizers of this week's gathering say it is expected to attract dozens of American-based Muslims, including Sayyed Syeed and Ingrid Mattson from the Islamic Society of North America, Ibrahim Hooper, Nihad Awad from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as well as six U.S. rabbis, including Marc Schneier of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Steven Jacobs of Los Angeles. In addition, John Esposito, director of Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding is among a few American academics invited to attend.
Saudi King Abdullah will open the conference, the Agence France Press news service reported Monday. The audience will include World Jewish Congress Secretary General Michael Schneider and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's point man on dialogue with Muslims.
Al-Turki said the conference will avoid contentious issues and instead serve as an opportunity "to get to know each other and to look for ways to cooperate."
At another conference organized by al-Turki in 2002, the assembled scholars of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the MWL "stated that terrorism is not equal to Jihad," the lawsuit says. The scholars "defined a right to struggle ‘against occupiers … and those who renege on their commitments or prevent Muslims from peacefully preaching.'"
In the week following the 9/11 attacks, al-Turki told a radio interviewer that U.S. policy was responsible for the attacks.
"The attacks are a result of injustice which is carried out in the world, particularly the world which is led by the USA. They are greatly responsible for the injustice which exists in the world today," al-Turki said. He then blamed Israel, which he called "the mother of terrorism. To be able to solve the problem of terrorism in the world, it is necessary first of all to resolve the Palestinian question."
Later that year, during a news conference at the National Press Club videotaped by the Investigative Project, al-Turki was asked about Palestinian suicide bombings:
Bob Blitzer, who served as the FBI's domestic terrorism chief in the 1990s, said he was troubled by a conference purported to be about interfaith dialogue being organized by a group charged with spreading Wahhabism. It's more troubling, he said, when the principal organizer is alleged in court papers to have ties to Al Qaeda.
"I'm not sure why in the world they would put someone in a responsible position in that type of forum," Blitzer said. "It sends the wrong message. People of faith are seeking rapprochement with the Muslim world. Most, or all, of these folks are going there for the right reasons. If he's the face of this, what does that say?"
Once they learn about al-Turki's alleged ties to Al Qaeda and his previous statements, Americans planning on attending the conference "should walk away and ask the king about this," Blitzer said.
That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), who founded the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.
"I am very supportive of interfaith dialogue and believe we need to encourage all religions to work together for peace and for the good of mankind," Myrick said. "I am encouraged by King Abdullah's initiative to promote interfaith understanding. However, I fail to understand how the goals of this conference can be achieved when the man running this summit is a suspected financier of terrorism and has made statements in the past saying that only Islam could dominate the Arabian Peninsula. Call me old fashion, but actions always speak louder than words."
In WTC Properties v. Al Baraka, et. al. al-Turki is described as having "acted as Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs for many years and clearly was in a position where he should have known about the reach of international terrorism and al Qaeda." He became a shareholder in a business that "bought real estate but did no actual construction work, although [it] list[ed] itself as a construction company. Instead, that company made direct payments to al Qaeda cells," according to the lawsuit.
Al-Turki's partner was Muhammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi, described in the litigation as "a high level al Qaeda financier" and a brother in law of Osama bin Laden. Spanish authorities arrested Zouaydi in 2002 for financing al Qaeda operations in Europe, the lawsuit says:
In the Madrid business deal, Zouaydi and al-Turki each were supposed to contribute half the money. But al-Turki stood to receive 70 percent of the profits, the WTC Properties lawsuit said.
"The Spanish scheme provided material support directly to al Qaeda operatives and the September 11, 2001 attacks. As investigations continue, additional evidence of such schemes will be uncovered," the WTC Properties lawsuit said.
Attorneys for al-Turki sought to have him dismissed from the litigation in September 2005. His inclusion is based "evidently on no basis other than that he is a Muslim who has held important governmental positions relating to Islamic affairs," his attorneys argued. They also argue that he never entered the business deal with Zouaydi despite numerous overtures from Zouaydi.
And they cite the 9/11 Commission Report, which found Zouaydi may have given money to an Al Qaeda associate in Hamburg but "no evidence that Zouaydi provided money to the plot participants or that any of his funds were used to support the plot." The High Court of Spain also acquitted Zouaydi of involvement in the September 11 attacks, according to al-Turki's lawyers.
Twelve defendants were dismissed from the WTC Properties lawsuit in January 2006 but al-Turki was not among them, court records show. His motion to dismiss is still pending.
Among those invited are Bob Edgar, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches, Rabbi Michael Paley of the UJA Federation in New York, and Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligiou Consultations. Rosen told the Christian Science Monitor in an e-mail that he saw the conference as a chance to "break down ... stereotypes, suspicion, and bigotry." He added that he would have liked to see Israeli officials invited, too.
Click here for a list of invitees, but note that not all those listed will attend. Former Vice President Al Gore, canceled his appearance citing a scheduling conflict.
As Qassam rockets fired from Gaza landed in the Southern Israeli town Sderot on Wednesday morning, and again on Thursday, Hamas terrorists proved once again what everyone should already know – their word is meaningless. Well, Hamas' word on matters of peace, anyway. One need not look any further than Hamas' charter, which calls for Islam to "obliterate" Israel, to understand why.
And yet despite that foreknowledge, and despite a considerable degree of public skepticism, the Olmert government opted to "give peace a chance" with Hamas, entering into a truce with the terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction, on Thursday, June 19. Five days later, the rockets were flying from Gaza. The Islamic Jihad terrorist group claimed credit for sending a volley of missiles, and afterwards, Hamas issued a statement saying that it will not "police" the truce with Israel.
As a reminder, Hamas pledged that, should Israel agree to the truce after much pleading from the terrorist group, the State Department and the "international community," that:
And now, rather conveniently and unsurprisingly, Hamas is basically saying "you didn't really expect us to mean ‘all' violence, did you?" And this, aside from the rocket fire, is the latest in a series of reminders that there is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, from entering into a pact with the devil.
According to the Associated Press:
So there's your truce for you. Hamas says it won't launch rockets at Israeli neighborhoods, but it won't stop others from doing so. First, Palestinian Islamic Jihad struck. On Thursday, it was the Fatah-aligned al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Given this attitude, it's no surprise Israel is considering a military response.
Remember, Hamas is the government in Gaza, responsible for what goes on inside and what blasts are sent from it. In order to secure the truce, Hamas didn't pledge merely a "commitment to calm," they pledged to stop all violence from Gaza. Forget the political considerations of being either "pro-Israel" or "pro-Palestinian" for a moment, and ask why Israel should enter into an agreement with an organization that states it has no intention to honor what it agreed to just days before.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also announced that Hamas would continue to its smuggling operations along the Egypt-Gaza border, which again, should surprise no one, since clearly Hamas only wanted the "commitment to calm" in the first place in order to resupply and rebuild its infrastructure. Hamas is not at all interested in peace, and never has been – a lesson that Israelis have learned time and time again.
And whether or not Israel should enter into an agreement with Hamas at all is a separate question from why Israel chose to enter into this agreement with Hamas.
If Israel had received any concrete gains from entering into the truce, such as the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, that may have been reason enough to deal with Hamas. But all Israel gained on that front was a "promise" to enter into negotiations for what would only be another in a long series of hugely unbalanced "prisoner swaps," in which Israel would be expected to release dozens of Hamas operatives in exchange for Shalit, and at what price?
The latest "truce" is eerily reminiscent of past agreements the Israelis entered into with the late-Yasser Arafat, under correspondingly large levels of international pressure. The Israelis were given assurances that, should Arafat and the Palestinian Authority violate the terms of the agreement, the Israelis could remove Arafat. Of course, the Israelis could never actually remove Arafat from office, despite his copious violations of the "peace" agreements, because of the inevitable outcry from the "international community" that angled for the agreements in the first place.
Unsurprisingly, despite having pushed for Israel to enter into a truce with Hamas, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had nothing to say about Hamas' violations of the truce, speaking Tuesday in Berlin at a conference rather ironically designed for "Support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of Law," but instead, had plenty to say about Israel's construction plans in its own capital city of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, not only is Hamas failing to live up to its commitments in Gaza, it is still vigorously targeting Israeli civilians elsewhere. Buried in a Reuters article on the post-truce rocket barrage from Gaza, we learn that Hamas has "claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that wounded three Israeli hikers."
So as Hamas is taking target practice at hikers in the West Bank, and blatantly violating the "truce" it secured in Gaza, perhaps the Israeli government will come to its senses, and reconsider its decision to enter into a deal with the devil.
In his June 19th piece titled, "Strengthening Extremists," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof lambastes the American and Israeli policy of isolating the terror group Hamas, alleging that Hamas' international isolation and resulting pressure have only managed to empower the so-called Islamic Resistance Movement.
And to "prove" his point, Kristof interviews two Gazans who, unsurprisingly, hate Israel. In Kristof's world, the siege of Gaza has only made Hamas more popular. Never mind that Hamas won the Palestinian elections before the siege began and after the Israelis had unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza. A withdrawal, by the way, which Hamas seized upon as a "victory" which, in turn, made Hamas more popular – enough to defeat rival Fatah in the elections.
So the Israelis give the Palestinians land for nothing in return, and Hamas gains popularity. According to Kristof, the Israelis isolate and attack Hamas in Gaza, and Hamas gains popularity. So when does Hamas lose popularity? Kristof claims that the recently minted "truce" between Hamas and Israel will somehow do the trick. Again, never mind Hamas' history of breaking such truces. Even the deferential Reuters news service said of the arrangement, "Israel-Hamas truce begins but duration in doubt."
(*Updated: Sure enough, rocket fire into Southern Israel Tuesday morning violated the cease fire less than a week after it started.)
Kristof, of course, doesn't explain how even temporarily ending the siege on Gaza and allowing Hamas to take credit for better conditions in the territory will somehow lessen the group's credibility. But again, never mind that.
People should remember that Kristof has already rather famously embarrassed himself when it comes to his knowledge of Palestinian terrorists. In March 2002, Kristof wrote a column titled, "Putting Us to the Test," in which he vigorously defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian. Infamously portraying the terrorist leader as a "rumpled academic," Kristof described Al-Arian as someone who "denounces terrorism, promotes inter-faith services with Jews and Christians, and led students at his Islamic school to a memorial service after 9/11 where they all sang 'God Bless America.'" Never mind that Al-Arian has said that Allah has turned the Jews into monkeys and pigs, or that he wrote a letter in February 1995 soliciting funds for terrorist attacks. He wrote:
In an interview on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, also in March 2002, Kristof vociferously denied that the letter was an attempt to raise funds for terrorist attacks and described it benignly as nothing more than a "private communication with a Kuwaiti, that it was not … it did not violate any federal law or any state law." So again, never mind that he was asking for money for terrorist attacks, or "operations," could continue. It was just a "private communication," says Kristof, so never mind.
Kristof went on to describe the scholarly nature of organizations run by Al-Arian. Never mind that one of those organizations, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), was headed by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah – currently the Secretary General of the PIJ – and described as a "most wanted terrorist" by the U.S. government. When Shallah left WISE to become the commander of PIJ, Al-Arian lied – to both the media and his employers - about knowing who Shallah was, and his organization issued a press release stating that Shallah:
The statement went on to say that WISE "denies any knowledge" of Shallah's "association or affiliation with any political group or agency in the Middle East." During closing arguments in Al-Arian's trial, his own defense attorney admitted he lied repeatedly, and, in fact, was a PIJ member, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times:
And never mind that Al-Arian's other organization, the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) was described – on video - by its top fundraiser as "the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine" and only called ICP for "security reasons." And never mind that the ICP held conferences to raise money for the PIJ and praise the killing of Jews. At one such event in Cleveland:
But since that conference happened in 1991, and, as Kristof helpfully tells us, Al-Arian's own vile comments on video "were about a dozen years old, after all" – you know, never mind. Nothing more than a "rumpled academic," indeed. Al-Arian eventually pled guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to the PIJ. But according to Kristof's flawed logic, pointing out Al-Arian's ties to terrorism, arresting and prosecuting him, would likely only strengthen the extremists. Better to have him still at the University, running a think tank which sheltered leaders of a violent, religiously motivated eliminationist terrorist group.
Never mind that during Al-Arian's sentencing, the judge stated of Al-Arian:
The judge continued:
On that, Kristof was strangely silent.
But back to Hamas and Gaza. Kristof claims that the American and Israeli policy of targeting the terrorist group in Gaza is "morally bankrupt — a case of collective punishment." Better to deal and negotiate with Hamas – an organization everyone should remember is sworn to Israel's destruction. The Hamas charter states, amongst other things:
But Kristof wants Israel to be nice to Hamas anyway. However, Kristof is hardly consistent when it comes to being against "collective punishment." In fact, to his credit, he has been one of the leading proponents calling for sanctions against the Khartoum regime (even though he admits that "Sudanese authorities may not have the money to feed their people") because of the atrocities committed in Darfur. But I guess it wouldn't be considered "collective punishment," in Kristof's mind, if any Sudanese civilians suffer from such sanctions and isolation of Islamist Sudanese government, as they most certainly would. It is tough to know where Kristof's selectivity (a less charitable description would be hypocrisy) on the matter originates, but his deferential treatment towards Sami Al-Arian might be one indicator. Indeed, Kristof has a documented history of blaming Israel and letting Islamic terrorists off the hook.
Writing on another issue which has received media attention, Kristof laments:
Kristof fails to mention that Israel has allowed four Gazans to leave and that the reason the three other Gazans have not been cleared to leave the Strip is that they have ties to Hamas, notably Hamas' main educational institution, the Islamic University of Gaza. From the June 20th edition of the New York Sun:
Naturally, Kristof thinks that having ties to Hamas should yield no negative consequences whatsoever. Kristof ends his article stating, "Let's stop bolstering Hamas." This from a man who wants to give Hamas-linked individuals free educations at prestigious American universities, because to not do so would be "counterproductive" and "collective punishment." Kristof was wrong about Al-Arian, and he's wrong about Hamas. Sadly, he fits right in at the New York Times.