The convergence of the radical Left and radical Islam continues. Former icons of social tolerance and sexual liberation are making common cause with the most intolerant and sexist social forces on earth. Left-wing American defenders of Slobodan Milosevic, on trial for his ethnic cleansing campaign to exterminate Muslims from the former Yugoslavia, now welcome U.S. Muslim groups as building blocks in their coalitions. Trendy supporters of revolutionary cop-killers like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal link their heroes’ murderous causes (while proclaiming Peltier and Mumia’s innocence) to those of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the various Islamic Jihad terrorist groups.
On February 15 and 16, they joined forces in the streets of hundreds of cities and towns around the world – literally from Boston to Baghdad – in coordinated protests unseen in size and scope since the Soviet Union ran the nuclear freeze movement two decades ago. Remnants of the old Communist Party USA like Leslie Cagan coordinated protests on one end through her United for Peace and Justice entity; the fanatically pro-North Korean Workers World Party (WWP), via its International Action Center (IAC) and International ANSWER front groups, organized on the other, pausing to wish a happy birthday to Kim Jong-il, who turned 61 over the weekend. Kim’s party paper, Rodong Sinmun, exhorted followers to “burn with hatred and hostility in their hearts” toward the United States.
Some of the nation’s most prominent Muslim groups, or more correctly, a collection of small but vocal groups that claim to speak for American Muslims, joined the protests.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), at the state level, endorsed the U.S.-out-of-Iraq demonstrations coast to coast. In Chicago, CAIR endorsed the protests, calling itself “one of the initial endorsers and organizers” for the event. CAIR formally joined the ANSWER coalition in Los Angeles.
Nationally, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) joined the ANSWER coalition, urging the “community” to take to the streets against President Bush’s efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people. In a weird February 11 statement, it asked “Americans” to “defend White House employees” – a reference to a low-ranking White House staffer whom critics say has a pattern of clearing pro-terrorist Muslim American activists into meetings with President Bush and other senior officials.
The American Muslim Council (AMC) didn’t make a public show over the February 15 weekend, but it did join the ANSWER coalition’s January 18 protests that marked the 12th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War, or what AMC referred to as the “war against the people of Iraq.” While the AMC joined others, particularly semi-official voices in the Saudi press, calling on Saddam Hussein to resign, it also embraced ANSWER. On January 15 it circulated an ANSWER flyer on its listserv, exhorting followers via e-mail to march on the White House. AMC national board treasurer Ali Khan led a caravan of Indiana and Chicago activists to the demonstration in Washington.
AMC, like other U.S. Muslim groups that have long coveted legitimacy in official Washington, likes to play things both ways. Click to its website, www.amconline.org, and a ghostly image of Malcolm X flashes for a fraction of a second before a very mainstream-looking, red, white and blue homepage appears. That’s just a symptom of how the AMC operates. Since September 11, 2001, AMC has demanded – and received – the highest-level acceptance in the U.S. government. FBI Director Robert Mueller even spoke at the AMC’s national convention last June 28, with an FBI spokesman calling the AMC “the most mainstream Muslim group in the country.”
The FBI media unit, when pressed, could produce nothing to substantiate the claim, but a visibly uncomfortable Mueller addressed the conference anyway. That appearance, with the FBI publicity unit’s imprimatur, gave the AMC more credibility than ever – even though that very month the organization was haranguing the Bureau for its investigation of domestic Muslim groups.
The AMC calls itself an “active member” of the National Committee to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), a William Kunstlerite group founded in the 1960s to provide legal support to terrorists and those who raise money and provide material support for them. Its causes have ranged from members of the Weather Underground to the Maoist Shining Path of Peru, to Abdul Rahman, the Egyptian “Blind Sheik” responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York. NCPPF’s executive director is Kit Gage works full-time as head of the old Stalinist National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Its president is Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who reportedly was a founding leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi is by his own admission an enthusiastic supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah – the latter being responsible for the 1980s killing of 241 U.S. Marines in the Beirut barracks bombing, and for the car bombing of the American Embassy in Lebanon. Alamoudi recruited young and attractive Muslim political activists and helped them set up spinoff groups to influence mainstream political parties. He provided seed money for one of those groups, the Islamic Institute, which is chaired by his former protégé, Khaled Saffuri.
The AMC likes to say now that the controversial Alamoudi is no longer with the organization and that it condemns all forms of terrorism. But Alamoudi isn’t alone. AMC’s former executive board president, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, was twice on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Under his old name in the 1960s as H. Rap. Brown, he threatened to assassinate Lady Bird Johnson when she was First Lady of the U.S. He’s now a lifer in a Georgia prison for the 2000 murder of Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Kinchen.
AMC’s new leadership is no less extreme. In the week before the FBI director’s speech to the organization, various television talk show hosts including Alan Keyes, then of MSNBC, and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, tried to get the AMC executive director, Eric Ervan Vickers, to denounce Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda by name. While denouncing acts of terrorism, Vickers avoided denouncing the terrorist groups themselves.
On June 19, 2002, Linda Vester of Fox News asked Vickers, “Do you condemn al Qaeda by name and condemn Hamas by name?” According to the transcript, Vickers would not. Fox News anchor Brit Hume commented, “All right, so, there you go. And she pressed him further, but that’s as far as she ever got with that.”
Journalist Fred Barnes, on a panel with Hume, illustrated the hypocrisy: “These groups are outraged about what the victims are doing here in the United States. Their big effort is to oppose reasonable steps to protect the United States from further attacks. That's where they aim their fire, not at these terrorists who are doing this in the name of their very own religion.”
The night before Mueller addressed the AMC, guest host Mike Barnicle on CNBC's Hardball asked Vickers to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. Vickers would not. Barnicle followed, "How about al-Qaeda?" According to the transcript, Vickers' only response was, "They are involved in a resistance movement."
Morton Kondracke commented on Fox, “If that guy truly reflects American Muslims -- and he is the executive director of this large organization -- then God help us. We've got -- that guy sounds like the fifth column, frankly.”
It certainly sounds that way. Across the board, the AMC and other leading Muslim advocacy groups are “against us” in the war on terrorism. Responding to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Speech on January 29, 2003, Vickers stated, “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.”
The next day he called on the “U.N. to conduct an inquiry into the “political repression of Muslim and Arab and Asian Americans by the United States government,” and led a protest against a new FBI policy to count mosques. In a note to imams across the country, Vickers wrote, “AMC calls upon you to demonstrate mass criticism and activism against the new FBI policy, which directs FBI field offices nationwide to conduct an inventory of mosques and Muslims as part of their charge to develop demographic profiles of their regions to combat possible terrorism.”
Meanwhile, the AMC and others, by virtue of their shrillness and persistence, continue to enjoy protected status from the federal government. One of the reasons, senior officials say, is that no truly mainstream national Muslim political group exists for the administration to engage. Until such an organization is created and supported, the vocal and well-funded jihadists will maintain their chokehold on the voice of American Muslims, in concert with the most extreme leadership of the “anti-war” Left – and with Uncle Sam’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. This, just when President Bush needs American Muslims to support him openly in the war against terrorism.
J. Michael Waller is vice president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.