Last week, I attended the funeral for Daniel Wultz, the young boy from Weston, Florida, who was the unfortunate victim of a suicide bombing that took place in Tel Aviv, Israel, one month ago. I stood there, amongst hundreds of people, to pay my respects to the friends and family of this beautiful boy. Sadness and anger welled up inside me – sadness for what Daniel’s loved ones had to go through and anger for the event that took this 16-year-old’s life and for the powerful who allow those responsible – both directly and indirectly – to walk free on this earth, including within the United States. One organization, in particular, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), demands attention for its past and current history connecting it to the main group involved in the attack – Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Two Sundays ago, an e-mail was sent out by CAIR denouncing the website, Little Green Footballs (LGF), for what CAIR said were two threats aimed at Muslims found in the comments section of a blog entry on the site. One of the comments was no doubt a threat. It stated, “The next time someone in a truckstop or a Starbucks or a library or any public place says ANYTHING even resembling support for the Muslim ‘cause’ WILL be sent to either the hospital or worse. . .just waiting to bash someones face in. no more games.” To the website’s credit, the dangerous comment was removed. The other quote, which was a strongly worded statement against the religion of Islam and those the author referred to as “Muslim savages,” was allowed to stay and was later debated.
While CAIR proudly displayed the offending quotes and, at the same time, unjustly and irresponsibly labeled LGF an “internet hate site,” a vital piece of information was missing from the e-mail. The blog entry, from where the quotes came, was an announcement of the death of Daniel Wultz, who had passed soon after waking out of a nine-day coma. The entry was titled, ‘US Teen Murdered by Palestinians.’
Many of the blog comments offered prayers to the Wultz family. Others dealt with the terrorist groups’ reactions to Wultz’s injuries. In an interview with Aaron Klein from World Net Daily, Abu Ayman, a PIJ leader, said, “Our hero believed in Allah and died while fighting for Allah but your pig was killed in a restaurant in an area full of prostitution.” And Abu Nasser, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the other group responsible for the attack, stated, “This is a gift from Allah. We wish this young dog will go directly with no transit to hell.” With comments such as these and others made before them, posters on LGF were understandably upset.
CAIR strangely left all of that out. Why?
CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois, in November of 1981. [CAIR would later be created in 1994.] One of the IAP’s founders, Sami Al-Arian, was, at the time, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University. According to a news report from the Palestine Chronicle, “Dr. Al-Arian was the primary advocate for IAP's work to be the focus of efforts for the Palestinian cause… Under the IAP he developed the Arabic magazine Tareeq Filistine (Road to Palestine)…”
In addition, Al-Arian had, a couple years prior, been involved with a group of Palestinian students in Cairo that had formed a violent breakaway faction from the Islamic Society (a.k.a. Muslim Brotherhood Palestine) called Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In 1981, the same year Al-Arian helped found the IAP, PIJ was expelled from Egypt, due to the group’s close relationship with those that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
After the onset of the Intifada in 1987, Al Arian created an entire infrastructure for PIJ, within a house, an office complex and a children’s school, all based in Tampa Bay, Florida. During a 1991 Cleveland fundraiser, one of these PIJ fronts, Al-Arian’s Islamic Committee for Palestine (a.k.a. Islamic Concern Project), was labeled “the active arm of the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine.”
Over a decade later, when Al-Arian would be taken into custody by the U.S. government, Ahmed Bedier, the Communications Director for CAIR-Florida and the Director of CAIR’s Tampa office, would act as Al-Arian’s chief spokesperson in the media, which has been the case to this day. As evidence of this, last April, when Al-Arian agreed to a plea agreement and eventual deportation, Bedier called a press conference to discuss Al-Arian’s family’s situation and how Al-Arian “has stayed true to his convictions.”
As spokesman, Bedier has used his position to advocate moving Al-Arian’s trial out of Tampa and to lament to the media about the treatment of Al-Arian by the U.S. government and the judge that was presiding over Al-Arian’s case, James Moody. Concerning Judge Moody’s courtroom remarks a few weeks ago, during which time Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison, Bedier described the judge’s words as a “political speech” and said Moody’s comments were “biased and unfair.”
On his radio show, True Talk, Bedier has used his forum as a mouthpiece for Al-Arian and his PIJ colleagues. Since November of 2005, he has had on his show: Al-Arian’s co-defendant, Ghassan Ballut; co-defendant, Sameeh Hammoudeh (interviewed from his Bradenton, Florida prison); Hammoudeh’s daughter, Weeam; Al-Arian’s wife, Nahla; Al-Arian’s daughter, Leila; Al-Arian’s son, Abdullah; and numerous other Al-Arian supporters and shills.
Besides Bedier, Sami Al-Arian has received much support from CAIR’s Executive Director, Nihad Awad. Last February, Awad, along with Eric Vickers, a man that had called the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster “an act of divine retribution against Israel,” spoke at a fundraiser for Al-Arian’s release. The event was held at Masjid Al-Qassam (a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa), the mosque Al-Arian helped found, which was named after the infamous PIJ mosque in Gaza. The next day, Awad and Vickers were listed as speakers at a vigil for Al-Arian, outside the Hillsborough County Orient Road Jail, where Al-Arian was being detained. Pictures from the vigil were found on the website belonging to Bedier’s assistant in the Tampa-CAIR office, Danya Shakfeh.
There is a feeling, within those in CAIR and its well traveled circles, that what Al-Arian and his cohorts have done amounts to nothing more than legitimate political expression – that they are being persecuted for merely being Palestinian activists. As stated by Nihad Awad, on Ahmed Bedier’s January 6, 2006 radio program, “We’re talking about Free Speech in America, and Sami Al-Arian, now, is being punished and penalized for his association and for his views on politics in the Middle East... Sami Al-Arian should not be the victim of political misunderstanding…”
This delusional attitude towards PIJ from CAIR was even more blatant, in December of 2005, when Ahmed Bedier appeared on a local Tampa television show, ‘Your Turn with Kathy Fountain.’ After being asked by the host if he believed there was anything immoral about Al-Arian’s connection to PIJ, Bedier said that, “before 1995, there was nothing immoral about it.”
But Mr. Bedier is wrong. There was and always will be something immoral about it. The fact is that, prior to 1995, PIJ had taken credit for five terrorist attacks, including one suicide bombing, which resulted in the deaths of eight innocent people. Only those with no capacity for emotion would believe otherwise.
And with regard to Mr. Awad’s statement that Al-Arian is being punished for his political views, Sami Al-Arian was a founder and leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an organization responsible for hundreds of murders, usually via the most cruel and inhuman means possible. [A list of these murders can be found on the website of the Jewish Virtual Library. The last name on the list, as of this writing, is that of Daniel Wultz.] Murder, unbeknownst to Nihad Awad, does not equal Free Speech.
In 1991, Sami Al-Arian had sponsored the visa of a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to enter the United States. Soon, Shallah would get involved in one of the PIJ fronts Al-Arian created, the World Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). In the Spring of 1994, Al-Arian had successfully convinced the University of South Florida (USF), where Al-Arian was teaching, to hire Shallah. In the Summer of 1995, Shallah suddenly left town in Tampa, soon to reemerge as the new head (Secretary General) of PIJ. [The previous head, Fathi Shiqaqi, had been executed, in Malta.]
According to former federal prosecutor, John Loftus, Al-Arian barely missed becoming Secretary General of PIJ, himself. Because of this, a question must be asked: What would CAIR and groups like it have said about Al-Arian, if the roles were reversed, if Shallah had stayed home and Al-Arian had left for Gaza or Damascus to become the head of PIJ? And instead of Shallah orchestrating the suicide bombing, in Tel Aviv, that ended Daniel Wultz’s life, it was Al-Arian. Would CAIR then say that Al-Arian was practicing “Free Speech” or was the subject of a “political misunderstanding?”
Of course, these questions don’t have any real bearing, because the given scenario never occurred. However, there is one question that does need to be answered, and that is this: If it were not for Sami Al-Arian, or PIJ for that matter, would CAIR even exist?
“He loved life, and those were his last words to the doctor who took him in, ‘I want to live.’” - Tuly Wultz, about his son Daniel Wultz (1990-2006)
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