A Troubling Influence
By: Frank J Gaffney Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Why We Are Publishing This Article by David Horowitz
The article you are about to read is the most disturbing that we at frontpagemag.com have ever published. As an Internet magazine, with a wide circulation, we have been in the forefront of the effort to expose the radical Fifth Column in this country, whose agendas are at odds with the nation’s security, and whose purposes are hostile to its own. In his first address to Congress after 9/11, the President noted that we are facing the same totalitarian enemies we faced in the preceding century. It is not surprising that their domestic supporters in the American Left should have continued their efforts to weaken this nation and tarnish its image. Just as there was a prominent internal Fifth Column during the Cold War, so there has been a prominent Fifth Column during the war on terror.
By no means do all the opponents of America’s war policies (or even a majority) fit this category. Disagreement among citizens is a core feature of any democracy and respect for that disagreement is a foundational value of our political system. The self-declared enemies of the nation are distinguished by the intemperate nature of their attacks on America and its President – referring to the one as Adolf Hitler, for example, or the other as the world’s “greatest terrorist state.” They are known as well by their political choices and associations. Many leaders of the movement opposing the war in Iraq have worked for half a century with the agents of America’s communist enemies and with totalitarian states like Cuba and the former USSR.
We have had no compunction about identifying these individuals and groups. America is no longer protected by geographical barriers or by its unsurpassed military technologies. Today terrorists who can penetrate our borders with the help of Fifth Column networks will have access to weapons of mass destruction that can cause hundreds of thousands of American deaths. One slip in our security defenses can result in a catastrophe undreamed of before.
What is particularly disturbing, about the information in this article by former Reagan Defense official, Frank Gaffney, is that it concerns an individual who loves this country and would be the last person to wish it harm, and the first one would expect to defend it. I have known Grover Norquist for almost twenty years as a political ally. Long before I myself was cognizant of the Communist threat – indeed when I was part of one of those Fifth Column networks – Grover Norquist was mobilizing his countrymen to combat it. In the early 1980s, Grover was in the forefront of conservative efforts to get the Reagan Administration to support the liberation struggles of anti-Communists in Central America, Africa and Afghanistan.
It is with a heavy heart therefore, that I am posting this article, which is the most complete documentation extant of Grover Norquist’s activities in behalf of the Islamist Fifth Column. I have confronted Grover about these issues and have talked to others who have done likewise. But it has been left to Frank Gaffney and a few others, including Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson, to make the case and to suffer the inevitable recriminations that have followed earlier disclosures of some aspects of this story.
Up to now, the controversy over these charges has been dismissed or swept under the rug, as a clash of personalities or the product of one of those intra-bureaucratic feuds so familiar to the Washington scene. Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking. The reality is much more serious. No one reading this document to its bitter end will confuse its claims and confirming evidence with those of a political cat fight. On the basis of the evidence assembled here, it seems beyond dispute that Grover Norquist has formed alliances with prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad, and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities. Equally troubling is that the arrests of these individuals and their exposure as agents of terrorism have not resulted in noticeable second thoughts on Grover’s part or any meaningful effort to dissociate himself from his unsavory friends.
As Frank Gaffney’s article recounts, Grover’s own Islamic Institute was initially financed by one of the most notorious of these operatives, Abdurahman Alamoudi, a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah who told the Annual Convention of the Islamic Association of Palestine in 1996, “If we are outside this country we can say ‘Oh, Allah destroy America.’ But once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it.” Grover appointed Alamoudi’s deputy, Khaled Saffuri to head his own organization. Together they gained access to the White House for Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and others with similar agendas who used their cachet to spread Islamist influence to the American military and the prison system and the universities and the political arena with untold consequences for the nation.
Parts of this story have been published before, but never in such detail and never with the full picture of Islamist influence in view. No doubt, that is partly because of Grover Norquist’s large (and therefore intimidating) presence in the Washington community. Many have been quite simply afraid to raise these issues and thus have allowed Grover to make them seem a matter of individual personality differences. This suits his agendas well, as it does those of his Islamist allies. If matters in dispute reflect personal animosity or “racial” prejudice, as Grover insists, then the true gravity of these charges is obscured. The fact remains that while Grover has denied the charges or sought to dismiss them with such arguments on many occasions, he has never answered them. If he wishes to do so now, the pages of frontpagemag.com are open to him.
Many have been reluctant to support these charges or to make them public because they involve a prominent conservative. I am familiar with these attitudes from my years on the Left. Loyalty is an important political value, but there comes a point where loyalty to friends or to parties comes into conflict with loyalty to fundamental principles and ultimately to one’s country. Grover’s activities have reached that point. E.M. Forster, a weak-spirited liberal, once said that if he had to choose between betraying his country and his friends, he “hoped [he] would have the guts” to betray his country.
No such sentiment motivates this journal. In our war with the Islamo-fascists we are all engaged in a battle with evil on a scale that affects the lives and freedoms of hundreds of millions people outside this nation as well as within it. America is on the front line of this battle and there is no replacement waiting in the wings if it fails, or if its will to fight is sapped from within. This makes our individual battles to keep our country vigilant and strong the most important responsibilities we have. That is why we could not in good conscience do otherwise, than to bring this story to light.
A Troubling Influence by Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
At a black-tie dinner on November 5th, nearly 300 conservative activists and politicians gathered at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel to recognize a prominent fixture in their community: tax-advocate and conservative coalition-builder Grover Norquist.
The talk that evening was of the honoree’s tireless efforts to advance his libertarian objective of down-sizing federal, state and local governments by reducing their revenues. He was toasted for organizing nationwide initiatives to memorialize Ronald Reagan, notably with the renaming of the capital’s National Airport after the former President.
Most in the audience were surely unaware that the effect of their tribute – if not its organizers’ intended purpose – was to provide urgently needed political cover for a man who has been active on another, far less laudable and, in fact, deeply problematic front: Enabling a political influence operation to advance the causes of radical Islamists, and targeted most particularly at the Bush Administration. The growing influence of this operation – and the larger Islamist enterprise principally funded by Saudia Arabia – has created a strategic vulnerability for the nation, and a political liability for its President.
The Islamist Connection: Abdurahman Alamoudi
The association between Grover Norquist and Islamists appears to have started about five years ago, in 1998, when he became the founding chairman of an organization called the Islamic Free Market Institute, better known as the Islamic Institute.1 The Institute’s stated purpose was to cultivate Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans whose attachment to conservative family values and capitalism made them potential allies for the Republican Party in advance of the 2000 presidential election.
If successful, such an outreach effort could theoretically produce a windfall in votes and campaign contributions. Consequently, it enjoyed the early support of Karl Rove, when he was then-Governor Bush’s political advisor, and who knew Norquist from their days in the College Republicans.
Unfortunately, some associated with the Islamic Institute evidently had another agenda. Abdurahman Alamoudi, for one, a self-described “supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah,”2 the prime-mover behind the American Muslim Council (AMC) and a number of other U.S.-based Islamist-sympathizing/supporting organizations, saw in the Islamic Institute a golden opportunity to hedge his bets.
For years, Alamoudi had cultivated ties with the Democratic Party and its partisans, and contributed significant amounts to its candidates. These donations had given Alamoudi access to the Clinton White House and enabled him and his associates to secure the right to select, train and certify Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military.3
By the end of the 1990s, an AMC spin-off called the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council and a like-minded organization, the Islamic Society of North America, were responsible for selecting all U.S. Muslim chaplains. 4 One of these appointees – Army Captain Yousef Yee – has lately been in the news. Yee has been removed from his duties ministering to Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo pending military judicial proceedings for, among other alleged misconduct, mishandling classified material.
For an Islamist-sympathizer like Alamoudi, the opportunity to determine who would minister to Muslims in the U.S. military was an important strategic prize. It built upon a Saudi-sponsored initiative dating back to the time of Operation Desert Storm to convert members of the American armed forces to Wahhabi Sunnism,5 the religious doctrine of the Islamic radicals. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia provided more than 100 such service personnel6 – including Captain Yee7 – with free trips to Mecca to make the hajj. (The nature and implications of these Islamist initiatives are under investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Terrorism Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Jon Kyl, R-AZ, and by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.)
In the mid-1990s, Alamoudi also had a hand in the recruitment and placement of another 75-100 so-called “Islamic lay leaders” for the U.S. military. According to the Wall Street Journal, he arranged for “an arm of the Saudi government” called the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences to train “soldiers and civilians to provide spiritual guidance when paid Muslim chaplains aren’t available.” The Journal also reports that there are signs that “the school…disseminates the intolerant and anti-Western strain of Islam espoused by the [Saudi] kingdom’s religious establishment.” 8
The right to select military chaplains not only offered Alamoudi and his colleagues the chance to recruit still more Islamists with specialized and highly useful skill-sets. It also was an invaluable legitimating credential to be wielded against those who might otherwise regard the American Muslim Council and its leader with suspicion, or worse.
It would, therefore, have been important to retain this role even if the Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore, were to lose and Republicans come to power. Hence, Abdurahman Alamoudi took an interest in one of the GOP’s most assiduous and influential networkers, Grover Norquist.
It seems unlikely that even in Alamoudi’s wildest dreams he could have imagined the extent of the access, influence and legitimacy the American Muslim Council and allied Islamist organizations would be able to secure in Republican circles, thanks to the investment they began in 1998 in a relationship with Norquist.
Alamoudi and Norquist
The investment began when Alamoudi wrote two personal checks (a $10,000 loan and what appears to be a $10,000 gift) to help found Norquist’s Islamic Institute.9 In addition, Alamoudi made payments in 2000 and 2001 totaling $50,000 to Janus-Merritt Strategies, a lobbying firm with which Norquist was associated at the time.10
Questions about the original source of this seed money would seem to be in order. In particular, it would be instructive to know whether it came from Saudi Arabia or a pedigreed terrorist state like Libya. Last month, Alamoudi was arrested and charged with engaging in illegal financial transactions with the Libyan government. According to an affidavit filed at the time, he admitted to trying to take $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills to Syria, en route to Saudi bank accounts.11 When apprehended, Alamoudi declared that the funds had been delivered to him after extensive interactions with officials of Muammar Qadhafi’s government by a man “with a Libyan accent.” Its source is alleged to be a charity used by Qadhafi to finance terrorist operations.
According to the affidavit, Alamoudi told authorities in Britain that once the Libyan funds were in Saudi banks, he would then draw upon them in roughly $10,000 increments to defray the expenses of organizations with which he was associated in the United States. He admitted to having undertaken “other, similar transactions involving amounts in the range of $10,000 to $20,000.” He also acknowledged that he had first approached representatives of the Libyan government in 1997 – the year before Norquist’s Islamic Institute was founded.
It is unclear exactly how much money Alamoudi received from Libya and precisely when, or who were the beneficiaries. What is known, however, according to published tax returns and foundation records, is that the overwhelming majority of the Norquist Institute’s funds from its inception have come from Persian Gulf states and their U.S. funding mechanisms, a number of which have been raided by federal anti-terrorism task forces.12
Whatever the provenance of Alamoudi’s seed money for the Islamic Institute, an even more significant contribution to its future course came in the form of the placement of his deputy, Khaled Saffuri, as the founding director of Norquist’s new organization. This placement is consistent with a practice long employed by Islamist-associated groups in the United States and, for that matter, other tightly controlled and non-transparent enterprises (e.g., the Soviet KGB’s operations overseas and Mafia business empires).
This disciplined approach has guided the Saudi-funded global Islamist network starting back in the 1960s. At that time, the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs established the Muslim World League (MWL) – headed by the minister himself – to promote radical Islamist agendas around the globe.
Of particular concern has been the MWL’s effort in America where four layers of front organizations have been spawned to recruit, indoctrinate, train and employ new adherents in furtherance of the Islamists’ overarching objectives: dominating the Muslim world and, in due course, forcing the non-Muslim world as well to submit to Islamic law.13
A surprisingly small number of trusted individuals run and financially control the roughly 40 groups that make up this radical Islamic front. For years, Abdurahman Alamoudi has been the most prominent leader of this front in America, and is involved in no fewer than 16 Islamist organizations.
As in the case of Grover Norquist’s Islamic Institute, control of the operations of these front organizations is usually given to a protégé of one of the godfathers or another trusted cadre member. Funds then flow from the same network.
Hence, in addition to the seed money from Alamoudi, the Islamic Institute has also received funding from organizations described by the Washington Post as a “secretive group of tightly connected Muslim charities, think tanks and businesses based in Northern Virginia [and] used to funnel millions of dollars to terrorists and launder millions more” – a number of whom are currently part of the “largest federal investigation of terrorism financing in the world.”14
Point Man: Khaled Saffuri
The founding director of Grover Norquist’s Islamic Institute, Khaled Saffuri, is a Muslim Palestinian by birth. Prior to joining Alamoudi’s group (where he served for almost three years15), Saffuri was active in Muslim-support operations in Bosnia,16 a hot-bed for Islamic radicals from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere anxious to establish a beachhead on the continent of Europe. In recent years, he has acknowledged personally supporting the families of suicide bombers – even though, in public settings, he strenuously denies having done so.17 He denounced President Bush for shutting down the Holy Land Foundation, a Saudi charity that the U.S. government determined was funneling American Muslims’ donations to terrorist organizations overseas.18
I first had occasion to observe Saffuri in the late 1990s, when I became a regular attendee of Grover Norquist’s “Wednesday Group” meetings, weekly gatherings of conservative movement activists and libertarians. Troubled that many of the participants rarely, if ever, addressed national security matters – certainly before 9/11 and, arguably, even afterwards – I viewed these conclaves as an opportunity to promote awareness of and renewed support for robust foreign and defense policies. With a view to doing that on a routine basis, I accepted Norquist’s invitation to move my Center for Security Policy into new office space he had acquired. In the summer of 1999, I relocated to the space which was also occupied by his primary organization, Americans for Tax Reform, which also housed the Wednesday Group meetings and the Saffuri-headed Islamic Institute.
Since the Institute was located inside the ATR suite next to ours, we wound up sharing a large conference room, Xerox room, bathrooms, elevator bank and hallway. Consequently, I had a ring-side seat as Saffuri and his colleagues became ever more prominent fixtures at the Wednesday Group meetings, usually underscoring their close relationship with the host by sitting next to Norquist (or near him) in the center of the room.
From time to time, one or another of the Islamic Institute’s associates would make a presentation to the generally standing-room-only crowds of influential Washington conservatives, would-be politicians, think-tank denizens, journalists, and an increasing number of lobbyists. Over the years, topics they addressed included: the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation; the much-maligned and badly misunderstood Islamist government of Sudan (in fact, a designated state-sponsor of terrorism); the innocent nature of the process whereby Muslim chaplains have been selected for the armed forces; the honored status of women in the Muslim world; and efforts to promote Islamic causes and candidates in Republican circles.
Whenever possible, I tried to interject or make presentations to counter what I considered to be an ill-concealed and ominous influence operation. On one occasion, which occurred a few weeks after 9/11, I made an intervention to decry the fact that Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council was among the groups invited to the White House. I observed that on the same day its representatives were meeting with the President and his senior subordinates to talk about how Muslims could help with the war on terror, the AMC’s website featured a box headlined “Know Your Rights.” A click on the proferred hyperlink took you to a joint statement urging Muslims not to talk to the FBI. The statement was issued in the name of an organization of which the AMC was a member: the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF) – a virtual legal aid office for terrorists. At the time, a South Florida University professor named Sami al-Arian was the NCPPF’s president. As will be discussed below, he was also Secretary of the worldwide governing council of a terrorist organization called Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), responsible for 99 suicide-bombing victims.
I suggested to the Wednesday Group that the White House would surely have been astonished to discover that it was dignifying so-called Muslim leaders who were urging their co-religionists not to cooperate with law enforcement. I also pointedly observed – without mentioning names – that those responsible for facilitating the President’s Muslim outreach, who profess to support him and wish him success, should take pains to avoid including such groups in the future. I circulated a column I had written making similar points and that had been published the day before in the Washington Times.19
No sooner had I finished speaking than Norquist left his seat to consult with Saffuri’s deputy and successor as director of the Islamic Institute, Abdulwahab Alkebsi (another former Deputy Director of Alamoudi’s AMC).20 After the consultation, Norquist came over to me and whispered that he had checked and that there was no such box on the AMC website. I, in turn, consulted with one of my colleagues, who produced a copy of the webpage in question and sequential images as it was removed from the site in the wake of my column’s publication. (This was not an isolated phenomenon; in fact, in the post-9/11 period, webmasters for a number of pro-Islamist organizations evidently were directed to sanitize their internet sites.)
I reported this to Grover and showed him the original item. Shortly thereafter, I had to leave the meeting. Only later did I discover that he had taken advantage of my absence to disinform the group by announcing that what I had told them about the AMC website was wrong and that it featured no such encouragement to obstruct justice.
Penetrating The Bush Campaign
In 2000, thanks to Grover Norquist’s influence with the White House political operation, Khaled Saffuri was named the George W. Bush presidential campaign’s National Advisor on Arab and Muslim Affairs.21 Holding out the promise of votes and donations in key battleground states with significant Muslim populations (notably, Michigan, Florida and New Jersey), Saffuri and Norquist were able to persuade the Bush campaign’s chief strategist, Karl Rove, essentially to contract-out to them responsibility for identifying the groups and individuals upon whom the Governor should rely to elicit such support. Insight Magazine reported in February 2001:
[In September 2000], on [Karl Rove’s] way to the airport to catch his flight back to Texas, Khaled Saffuri, executive director of the Islamic Institute, joined Rove in his car. Saffuri explained to him that the vote of the Arab-American community, which includes both Muslims and Christians, still was up for grabs. The community is prosperous and could be the source of considerable campaign contributions. If Bush would mention in public just a few of the issues that concern Arab-Americans, Saffuri told Rove, he would win their hearts, their minds and their support.22
While the thrust of this report sounds right, the evidence suggests Saffuri’s car ride with Rove was by no means the first time such a proposition had been discussed with the Bush campaign. Indeed, the lure of such political dividends induced Governor Bush to hold a meeting in his mansion in Austin on May 1, 2000, not only with Alamoudi and Saffuri, but with other, immoderate Muslims, as well. As the National Journal reported:
It was the summer of 2000, and for George W. Bush, the meeting held the promise of an unusual but important endorsement for his presidential bid. Conservative activist Grover Norquist had persuaded the Republican nominee to sit down with leaders of the Muslim American Political Coordinating Committee, a confederation of four Muslim community groups.23
In addition to Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council, the group included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad is another self-professed Hamas-supporter and, as will be discussed further below, its radical agenda and ties have recently been the focus of sharp, bipartisan criticism in Sen. Kyl’s Judiciary subcommittee.
Saffuri had also arranged for the Bush campaign to enlist Sami al-Arian, a well-known Florida-based activist – despite the fact that the professor made little secret of his radical Islamist sympathies – to help engender Muslim support in his state.24 A photograph of Mr. Bush taken with al-Arian in March 2000 subsequently received considerable attention after the professor was arrested last February on 40 terrorism-related counts. Of particular concern are those alleging his functional direction over the past 19 years of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the most murderous terrorist organizations in the Middle East.25
Al-Arian’s arrest was made possible by the USA-PATRIOT Act. With this legislation’s enactment after 9/11, it became possible for the first time in decades, for U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share sensitive information – such as the voluminous wiretaps of Sami al-Arian coordinating Palestinian Islamic Jihad operations from his professor’s office in Tampa.
Not surprisingly, the Islamist front recognizes the threat this and other provisions of the PATRIOT Act represent to their operations in America. They are determined to rescind it and, if possible, remove its principal architect and most effective defender, Attorney General John Ashcroft. Accordingly, they have become an integral part of the left-wing coalition, which includes the ACLU, the pro-Castro National Lawyers Guild and many Islamic “solidarity” groups, in waging a national campaign against the PATRIOT Act. It seems hardly coincidental that the preeminent conservative figure to join the campaign and lead the recruitment of other conservatives is Grover Norquist.
In fact, Norquist was also a prime-mover behind efforts to secure one of the Islamists’ top pre-9/11 agenda items: the abolition of a section of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that permits authorities to use what critics call “secret evidence.” This is a rarely employed practice whereby prosecutors can withhold classified information from foreign suspects. To do so, however, the authorities must have reason to believe the disclosure of such information could compromise – and, thereby, eliminate – the sensitive intelligence “sources and methods” by which it was obtained.
As it happens, one reason why banning secret evidence was an Islamist priority was that undisclosed classified information linking Sami al-Arian’s brother-in-law, Mazen al-Najjar, to terrorist activities was used to detain the latter from 1997 to 2000. Ultimately, that same information was used to deport him.
Thus, secret evidence was a personal priority for one of the Bush campaign’s Muslim-outreach operatives – and corrective action became a price of his and other Islamists’ support. In the second presidential debate with Al Gore, Governor Bush responded to the demand that, as Saffuri put it, he “mention in public just a few of the issues that concern Arab-Americans.” The Republican candidate formally pledged that, if elected, he would prohibit the use of secret evidence.26
In recognition of this stunning exercise in political influence and his instrumental role in achieving it, Grover Norquist was an honoree at an event held by Sami Al-Arian’s National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom in July 2001, two months before 9/11. The award was for being a “champion of the abolishment movement against secret evidence.” Such recognition was certainly deserved. But for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that followed, Norquist’s efforts would by now almost certainly have denied law enforcement this important anti-terrorism tool.
Ironically, pro-Islamist groups had been scheduled to meet with President Bush on the morning of September 11 to hear what he planned to do to deliver on his secret evidence campaign pledge.27 But that day, the executive mansion complex was shut down, for fear that a fourth hijacked aircraft was headed its way. I watched bemused as Grover Norquist and the White House official responsible for Muslim outreach, Suhail Khan, escorted the displaced Islamists into the conference room we share. (Al-Arian had arranged to participate in the presidential meeting via phone. According to his website, his teaching schedule at the University of South Florida would not allow him to be there in person.)28
Penetrating the White House
Suhail Khan was one of at least three Muslim outreach gatekeepers at the White House with whom Norquist has been associated over the years. I became aware of the intensity of the attachment when Norquist verbally assaulted me one day in the hallway outside our offices with the accusation that I had been calling Khan a terrorist. I assured him that I had done no such thing. Evidently, somebody else, though, had stumbled onto the fact that Khan’s late father, Mahboob Khan, was a prominent figure in the Islamist enterprise in America. It turns out that, among other things, he was the founder of a large Wahhabi center, mosque and school in Orange County, California.29
The New York Times revealed on October 23, 2001, that, in that capacity, Khan Sr. had hosted Ayman al-Zawahiri, reportedly Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man in the al-Qaeda organization – not once, but twice in the 1990s.30 The first time, Zawahiri came under his own name, the second time he used an alias. In the course of his trips, the terrorist chief reportedly not only raised funds for al-Qaeda’s operations at Khan’s mosque but also purchased satellite communications equipment while in the United States.31
After Khan’s family ties to terror became a focus of press attention, Suhail left the White House staff to go to work at the Department of Transportation. Grover Norquist closed a Wednesday Group meeting by tearfully apologizing to Suhail Khan for the injury caused him by “racists and bigots” and, by example, encouraging the assembled company to join him in a standing ovation to Khan. Most hadn’t a clue what he was talking about but went along. Mindful that Norquist had me in mind, I sat it out.
If White House security procedures had worked across the board as they were supposed to, it seems unlikely that President Bush and his senior subordinates would ever have met with some of those sponsored by Norquist and Saffuri. Sami al-Arian and Abdurahman Alamoudi, for example, would probably never have gotten inside the White House compound.
What happened at the Wednesday Group meeting after Khan’s move to Transportation was unfortunately not an isolated incident, but part of an already established pattern. In July 2001, the Secret Service evicted Sami al-Arian’s son, Abdullah, from a meeting in the White House. The President had affably dubbed Abdullah “Big Dude” after first meeting him and his family on the campaign trail in Florida in March 2000.32 Evidently, the Service acted on the basis of the law enforcement community’s longstanding suspicion of the father’s ties to international terror.
Norquist’s friends immediately raised a ruckus. Other participants in the meeting walked out in solidarity. It became a cause celebre, trumpeted as an egregious example of the racial profiling about which the Islamists and their leftwing allies incessantly complained. In short order, the Deputy Director of the Secret Service was obliged to issue a written apology to “Big Dude” al-Arian. And the President himself personally called the evictee’s mother to express regret and to assure her that no such thing would be allowed to happen again.
Access to the White House
Notice had been served on the Secret Service and other security-vetters: Their job was to provide for the President’s physical security – the threat of would-be assassins – not to protect him from the political embarrassment (or worse) that might result from meetings with terrorist-apologists, or possibly terrorists themselves. If unarmed Islamists were able to secure access to Mr. Bush and his subordinates (e.g., the Secretaries of the Treasury, State and Energy, the Attorney General, the directors of Homeland Security and the FBI), law enforcement and intelligence professionals got the message that they were not to interfere.
Consequently, over the years, and particularly as the Bush Administration’s Muslim outreach effort ramped up in the aftermath of 9/11, Grover Norquist was able to gain extraordinarily high-level access for a number of troubling individuals and groups. An undated White House memo, evidently prepared by Suhail Khan in early 2001 and intended to coordinate Muslim and Arab-American public liaison events, shows that Norquist’s Islamic Institute was instrumental in establishing Islamist connections with the Bush administration. The Islamic Institute provided the White House with a list of Muslim invitees, with the name, date of birth and Social Security number of each. As the founder of the Islamic Institute, Grover Norquist tops the list.33
A leading Arab-American pollster, John Zogby, told The New Republic, “[Grover]’s played the role of interlocutor. With all respect, many of the leaders are immigrants and don't have years and years of experience. Grover has filled that void.” He went on to say that “absolutely, [Grover is] central to the White House outreach.”34
Among the dubious characters included in this outreach – in addition to al-Arian, Alamoudi and his deputy, Saffuri – were the following:
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Awad was among those first introduced by Norquist and Saffuri to Bush during the presidential campaign and his access continued after September 11th. In fact, the front page of the Washington Post featured a photograph of Nihad Awad and Khaled Saffuri flanking Mr. Bush as he toured the Washington Islamic Center.
This public relations coup was an early indication of the strategy Norquist’s Islamist friends would follow in the wake of the hijackings: Exploit the President’s laudable – and strategically sensible – desire to show that neither he nor the American people would hold all Muslims responsible for the murderous actions of the few. This would be done by proposing that President Bush (or his surrogates) attend events in Washington, Detroit, and other cities with Muslim populations, sponsor meetings, host White House iftar dinners to break the Ramadan fast, and so forth. Evidently Norquist, Saffuri and the gatekeepers they had placed inside the White House would work to ensure that representatives of the pro-Islamist organizations would be invited as the exclusive representatives of the Muslim-American and Arab-American communities and – just as important – that non-Islamist Muslims would be excluded.
In this fashion, improbable though it may seem, the Wahhabi agenda of access, influence and legitimacy could actually be advanced in the post-9/11 environment. That people like Nihad Awad could pull this off is a tribute to the skill of the influence operators. After all, he had personally declared that he was a “supporter of the Hamas movement,”35 and his organization raised money for terrorist fronts (including the Holy Land Foundation, the Benevolence International Foundation, and the Global Relief Fund).36 One month after these organizations were raided by the U.S. government, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper lamented: “The Holy Land Foundation, Global Relief International, Benevolent International Foundation [sic] -- these were our major relief organizations, and they've all been shut down.”37
Even more astounding is the fact that Awad and CAIR have continually attacked the President and his Administration. They have even sued Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Moeller.38 They have strenuously objected to Bush policies on Homeland Security and the War on Terror. And they have played a leading role in national campaigns aimed at undoing the PATRIOT Act and preventing the liberation of Iraq.
As noted above, CAIR’s pro-Islamist sympathies and conduct have been the object of bipartisan criticism from the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism. In the course of the subcommittee’s hearing, even one of the organization’s go-to guys on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, observed that the committee should hear from more “mainstream” Muslim groups in the future, since CAIR and its rhetoric were too “extreme” and its associations “suspect.”39
Such an assessment has certainly been reinforced by the fact that since September 11, 2001, three CAIR figures have been arrested by U.S. federal authorities on terrorist-related charges:
· In December 2002, Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of CAIR-Texas, was arrested on a number of charges including export violations, making false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of designated terrorist, conspiracy and money laundering.40
· Bassem K. Khafagi, the Community Affairs Director for CAIR at the time of his January 2003 arrest,41 pled guilty on September 10, 2003, to charges of bank and visa fraud.42 He remains under investigation for his alleged role in the terrorist funding group Islamic Assembly of North America and is expected to be deported to Egypt.43
· Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, former communications specialist and civil rights coordinator at CAIR, was arrested in late June 2003 for his alleged involvement in the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba.44 The Justice Department upgraded Royer’s charges in September 2003 to include providing material support to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.45 At the time of his arrest, Royer was spokesman for the National Liberty Fund, a legal defense fund for the PIJ leader Sami al-Arian.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. According to the Washington Post, on September 9, 2001, at a rally to support cop-killer and former American Muslim Council executive Jamil Al-Amin (a.k.a. H. Rap Brown), Shaykh Yusuf declared, “This country is facing a terrible fate...This country stands condemned. It stands condemned because of what it did – and lest people forget Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands.”46 At this same rally, the Post reported, Shaykh Yusuf lamented that Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted of plotting to bomb Manhattan's Lincoln and Holland tunnels, was “unjustly tried, was condemned against any standards of justice in any legal system.”47
The FBI went to interview Yusuf to determine whether this inflammatory statement was indicative of prior knowledge of the attacks that occurred two days later. When agents knocked on the door of his San Francisco home on September 20th, they were incredulous to hear his wife explain that Yusuf was absent because he was meeting with the President.48 Upon checking, the FBI discovered that he had indeed been included in an ecumenical meeting in the Oval Office with then-Cardinal Law and a Jewish rabbi – a meeting that was, according to the Wall Street Journal, arranged by Grover Norquist’s White House surrogate, Suhail Khan.49
The website of Yusuf’s organization promised to send a percentage of all sales of tapes of his pro-Islamist sermons to Benevolence International Foundation, even after its director was indicted for funneling money to bin Laden and al-Qaeda.50
Muzammil Siddiqi. In September 2001, when Siddiqi met twice with Mr. Bush, he was president of the Board of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). This Saudi-funded organization is, as will be discussed below, used by the Muslim World League (MWL) to finance and exercise control over most of the mosques in the United States. Siddiqi’s ties to Saudi Arabia are even deeper.
Before heading up ISNA, Siddiqi was previously a top figure in the MWL itself, whose American headquarters was raided in March 2002 on suspicion of ties to terrorism during the U.S. government’s Operation Green Quest.51 He has also served as the Chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee of the Muslim Students Association (see below) in the United States and Canada. In addition, he is a member of the Fiqh Council, another raided entity.52
Despite these troubling connections to Islamist causes and organizations, someone got the White House to call on Siddiqi to represent the Muslim faith in the inter-religious prayer service for the 9/11 victims that was held at the National Cathedral on September 14, 2001. As syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer noted afterwards, Siddiqi could not bring himself to condemn terrorism in remarks delivered to a worldwide audience, as well as four Presidents and hundreds of dignitaries.53
Even after a performance that was, to say the least, disappointing, Siddiqi was allowed to be photographed with President Bush in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and to present him with a Koran.
Agha Saeed, founder and president of the American Muslim Alliance. Saeed was invited to participate in the Bush campaign’s Muslim outreach meeting engineered by Norquist and Saffuri at the Governor’s mansion in 2000. He also has been given access to the White House since the 9/11 attacks.54
As noted previously, Saeed created an umbrella group, the American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), to unite other members of the “Wahhabi Lobby,” including the American Muslim Council (AMC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Interestingly, in June 2000, Hillary Clinton felt constrained to return $50,000 in AMA checks for her Senatorial campaign because Saeed had spoken in favor of Palestinians’ right to “resist by armed force.” He had also allegedly served as head of the Pakistani Communist Party.55
AMA’s Annual Dinner in April 2002 honored the alleged Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist leader Sami al-Arian, now in federal prison awaiting trial, as a “civil rights” leader, sponsoring a civil rights award in his name.56
Eric Vickers, then-director of Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council.57 Vickers is a black radical who converted to the Muslim faith. While many black Muslims follow a divergent strain of Islam, Vickers found a home in the Wahhabi-connected AMC and served as its executive director from June 2002 until February 2003, after he left the American Muslim Alliance. Vickers was also an incorporator and board member of the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA). The organization had two grants worth $4.2 million revoked by the U.S. Agency for International Development at the State Department’s request because of the group’s ties with terrorist-sponsoring Sudan (including the alleged provision by IARA officials of intelligence equipment to al-Qaeda).58
Like Nihad Awad, Vickers was a particularly outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and its policies in the War on Terror. He participated prominently in antiwar rallies, was a visible presence in campaigns against the PATRIOT Act and repeatedly assailed President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, among others. Vickers made no secret either of his sympathy for Islamists and their organizations. In June 2002, I debated Vickers in an MSNBC “Hardball” program concerning the AMC’s pro-Islamist record – and the inappropriateness of FBI Director Robert Mueller addressing its annual convention that year. In the course of the show, Vickers refused to renounce or otherwise to disassociate himself or his organization from Hamas, Hezbollah or even al-Qaeda. When pressed, the most he would say is that al-Qaeda is a “resistance movement.”59
Mahdi Bray, executive director, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.60 Bray, a former member of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), is a leader of several pro-Islamist organizations in this country. His role typically is that of a coordinator for political activism. By mid-October of this year, Bray had overseen the training of nearly 1,000 Islamic activists.61 Bray also served as the political director of another pro-Islamist group based in Los Angeles, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and as a founding board member of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom.62 He hosts a radio talk-show sponsored largely by – and reflecting the views of – Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.63
In March 2003, Bray testified at the bond hearing of indicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian, claiming responsibility for “mentoring [al-Arian] about the civil rights movement.”64 He also claimed that he and al-Arian were “kindred spirits” on the issue of Muslim political activism.65
Through public statements and demonstrations, Bray has vehemently protested Bush administration policies in the War on Terror, claiming that they are injurious to innocent American Muslims. For instance, in May 2003, Bray said:
The recent barbaric and illegal invasion of Iraq has emboldened the Bush administration in its actions to target the Muslim and immigrant community and to violate the rights of Muslims, immigrants, and all Americans with impunity. We must continue to forge a coalition of conscience to resist the Bush administration's belligerent and destructive policy which is the greatest impediment to global peace today.66
Click Here to read the conclusion of "A Troubling Influence", or to access the Endnotes.
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