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Terror Speech -- Canadian Style By: Bill West
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 08, 2004

On October 12, a computer engineering professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada named Mohamed Elmasry, who is also the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, which bills itself as a Muslim civil rights organization, appeared on a Canadian Crossroads Television System talk show called The Michael Coren Show.  During the discussion, Elmasry stated that he believed all Israelis over the age of eighteen were legitimate targets for attack by Palestinians, including by suicide bombers.  When given a chance by the show’s host to recant or modify his statement, Professor Elmasry did not, but instead stood by his position.  The issue has received widespread coverage in the Canadian media. 

Since the interview, Elmasry has tried to explain his statements by saying they were taken out of context or he was misunderstood.  Review of the show’s transcripts, which have been widely reported in the Canadian press, make it clear Elmasry’s statements were just that…clear.

The Elmasry case is yet another in a recent string of high-profile foreign national Muslims who have been alleged to have engaged in or to have espoused support for terrorism.  Yusef Islam, the former Cat Stevens, who was recently denied entry into the United States and returned to his native Britain, was one.  Another is Swiss citizen and scholar Tariq Ramadan, who had his temporary work visa to teach at Notre Dame university in Indiana revoked in August by the State Department, ostensibly at the request of the Department of Homeland Security.  In both the Islam and Ramadan cases, it appears the U.S. Government relied upon intelligence, as well as open source information, to deny entry to these aliens on the grounds they had been linked to or otherwise espoused support for terrorism. 

The basis for such action by the U.S. Government is well established and is found in the Immigration and Nationality Act.  The particular section is 212(a)(3).  A subsection added by the USA PATRIOT ACT reads as follows:


·        “Any alien who has used the alien’s position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities…is inadmissible.” 


It is important to know that this is not a criminal section of law but a civil/administrative statute.  A person, a foreign national, who is in violation of this section of law cannot be sentenced to prison, but is simply not allowed to enter the United States.  Life and liberty within the United States is not jeopardized.  Due process rights under the U.S. Constitution, since those subject to the statute are outside the United States and are not U.S. citizens, do not apply as they would in a criminal proceeding or even as they would in a deportation proceeding for an alien arrested inside the U.S.  The rules of evidence, such as they are, are fully and rightfully in favor of the U.S. Government and, by extension, the people of the United States which the U.S. Government is charged with protecting. 


This is analogous to a homeowner having the absolute right of not opening his or her door to a stranger knocking thereupon.  The homeowner need not have any reason for keeping the door closed.  Assuming the U.S. Government has even the minimum evidence, and in these matters such evidence can quite rightly be secret, that a foreign national is involved in supporting terrorism, no matter that alien’s public stature, the Government has every legal obligation to prevent that alien from entering the country. 


Some, especially in the aftermath of the Yusef and Ramadan cases with their attendant publicity, would suggest such cases should have some form of judicial review process available to the aliens.  Legal precedent, including Supreme Court decisions, clearly renders the authority of who is admissible into the United States with the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.  Providing some form of judicial review, with the inevitable and likely interminable appeal process in these proceedings would be nothing more than disemboweling one of the relatively few powerful immigration enforcement tools at the Government’s disposal for nothing more than a cave-in to left-wing political correctness.  Should that homeowner allow the potential burglar to go to court to seek an order forcing the door to be opened?  


In the case of Professor Elmasry, assuming he is a Canadian citizen, it would appear his position of public prominence, combined with his public statements concerning Israelis over the age of 18 being legitimate targets for attack by Palestinians, may well render him subject to being inadmissible to the United States under the aforementioned provisions of U.S. immigration law.  Minimally, it would appear to be a matter worthy of further investigation by the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security.


Interestingly, what did the president of the University of Waterloo do in reaction to one of his professors making public statements in apparent support for Palestinian terrorism?  As reported in the Canadian Globe and Mail on October 27, within days, president David Johnston publicly called Elmasry’s remarks “abhorrent and alarming.”  Additionally, president Johnston immediately launched an official internal university inquiry into the incident that could, as reported in the Globe and Mail article, result in disciplinary action to include dismissal.  Canada is hardly a third world dictatorship.  Canada thrives on freedom of speech and academic freedom.  Even since 9-11, Canada has often been criticized for being “soft” on terrorism; but, from what is currently known about the Elmasry matter, it is apparent that University of Waterloo president Johnston has taken precisely the courageous and proper course of action that a university president should take under such circumstances…and he did so in a swift manner. 


Ironically, while the statements made by Elmasry appear to be reprehensible, they fall far short of the actions and statements about which there was substantial public information available to Betty Castor, the former University of South Florida president who just lost the Florida Senatorial election to her Republican opponent Mel Martinez, about USF computer engineering professor Sami Al-Arian and his alleged Palestinian Islamic Jihad support activities at USF during the mid-1990s.  Too bad Ms. Castor couldn’t have taken a lesson from Mr. Johnston on how to deal with such matters.


Bill West is a retired INS Agent who is now a consultant and freelance writer.

Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who ran organized crime and national security investigations. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and freelance writer.

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