Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote that "The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer." If this is true, then there should be some serious political reverberations as a result of President Bush's decision to kiss Imam Hassan Qazwini after speaking to an Arab-American community in Dearborn, Michigan on Monday.
This continues a well-noted trend of placing the President in the company of purported leaders of the Muslim community who do not share the President's moral clarity on terror.
This supposedly "moderate" Imam from the Detroit, Michigan-based Islamic Center of America (ICA) has some disturbing connections to radical Islamists that cannot be overlooked by a conservative President who has been entrusted by the American people to fight a war on global terrorism.
For starters, Imam Qazwini's Islamic Center once invited Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to be the keynote speaker at a memorial for its deceased founder Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri. At the time, Arab American News described his address as "dynamic" and "always controversial," and reported that he urged the Muslim community "to become politically active...[and] as powerful as the Zionists."
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press in November 1998, Imam Qazwini downplayed the fact that Louis Farrakhan would be the keynote speaker at Imam Chirri's memorial: "...I always say there are some similarities between us and Mr. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, and there are some differences. These differences are not so great that we would not give him the podium."
This raises a couple of questions. Can someone be a "moderate" Muslim if they associate with a figure such as Louis Farrakhan? And, what does it say about the nature of the Islamic Center of America if Louis Farrakhan is invited to be the keynote speaker at a memorial to honor its revered founder?
For those who do not recall, Louis Farrakhan is the man who once called Judaism a "gutter religion" and who has been banned - for security reasons -- from entering the United Kingdom since 1986. London's left wing journal The Observer has a profile of Louis Farrakhan that points out his "reliance on anti-semitic imagery." A few examples: "Jews are 'bloodsuckers'"; "Hitler 'was a great man.'" It also notes that "he talks of 'settling the score' with white people" and boasts proudly "that black street gangs are 'born warriors of true liberation.'"
Furthermore, in the lead up to the war that eventually liberated the people of Iraq, the Associated Press reported in October 2002 that Farrakhan believed Saddam Hussein was "making peace with his neighbors" and that the "[Bush] Administration is the greatest threat to world peace." He added, "Only Israel, the United States and Tony Blair...are willing to go along with an attack on Iraq."
Would Imam Qazwini consider these anti-war, anti-Bush viewpoints to be "similarities" or "differences" of opinion?
Imam Qazwini has other troublesome connections to radicals in the United States. He is a board member of the American Muslim Council and shares this position with some notable terror apologists.
For instance, the Conference Chair of AMC's upcoming Imam conference is Abdurahman Alamoudi. According to a January 2002 report by the Associated Press, Alamoudi is a supporter of Hamas and Hizbullah- two groups that are Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In fact, both candidates Bush and Hillary Clinton returned his campaign donations citing statements he made.
Furthermore, during a Chicago fundraising event for the Islamic Association for Palestine on 29 December 1996, Alamoudi argued: "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. There is no way for Muslims to be violent in America, no way. We have other means to do it. You can be violent anywhere else but in America."
Other controversial AMC figures include:
Former Executive Director Eric Vickers. On 27 June 2002, Vickers appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and stated that al-Qaeda was "involved in a resistance movement."
In a written response to the President's State of the Union address, Vickers wrote on 23 January 2003: "In invoking God to be with American soldiers in our apparently imminent war with Iraq, what the president did not say is that he is calling on God to kill innocent Iraqi children."
AMC's Treasurer Ali Khan. Khan has retained Hamas attorney Stanley Cohen to represent him in a lawsuit against Northwest airlines (racial profiling).
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown). The former president of the Executive Board of the AMC Board of Directors was Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown). Brown was twice on the FBI's own Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List and is now serving a life sentence for the 2000 murder of Fulton County, Georgia, Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Kinchen.
Dr. Jamal Barzanji. Dr. Barzanji was involved with seven organizations that were raided by federal agents in connection with terrorist financing: the now-defunct SAAR Foundation; Amana Trust, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, Mar-Jac Investments, Mena Investments, and Reston Investments and SAFA Trust. The seven are part of what has come to be known as "The Wahhabi Lobby."
The American Muslim Council's strong anti-war, anti-Bush activism deserves additional mention due to the fact that AMC has been invited repeatedly to attend events at the White House and to meet with high-level Bush Administration officials.
AMC press releases "saluted" Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of the MAS Freedom Foundation, for "leading the charge for the Muslim community's role" in the anti-war protests; and touted AMC Treasurer Ali Khan's plan to lead a caravan of anti-war protesters to the Capitol in January 2003. Moreover, AMC acted as a surrogate for International ANSWER - the radical left-wing, anti-war organization headed by Ramsey Clark (a man who wants to impeach the President). On 15 January 2003 it forwarded via email one of ANSWER's anti-war messages. That text read in part:
There is no better way than to truly remember the spirit and legacy of Dr. King than to organize a bold, visible protest against war and racism in Washington DC on the anniversary of his birthday. We will not allow the war makers in the Bush administration and on Wall Street to turn Dr. King into a harmless icon, rather than an inspiration for struggle...
AMC also has a long and consistent history of making common cause with terror groups in the United States that have no relation to Islam or Mideast issues.
AMC is an "active member" of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), a kind of legal aid for terrorists. Members include, the Puerto Rican FALN and Macheteros, Black Liberation Movement, Weather Underground, and persons on the FBI's Most Wanted list.
As an active member in the NCPPF, the American Muslim Council supports the cause of convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who killed Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, and Leonard Peltier, who murdered FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams at Wounded Knee.
The former President and current Vice-President of the NCPPF is Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who was arrested and indicted on 20 February 2003 and stands accused of supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - a group that Attorney General John Ashcroft described as "one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the world."
It was remarkably easy to uncover Imam Qazwini's relationships to various radical entities. How then was the President put in a situation that permitted him to kiss a man who finds common cause with the likes of Louis Farrakhan, supporters of Hamas and Hizbullah, and in general someone who is not "with" the President politically?
Who is to be held accountable for this atrocious lapse in judgment?