ON MARCH 15 we posted a feature called “A Disturbing Letter From A Saudi.” Among other claims, the writer of this letter alleged, “I was with Hussein Ibish and Hamid Faraoui [on 9/11], watching them cheering and singing, then denouncing the attacks on TV later that day.” I am now persuaded that the particular claim about Hussein Ibish is false, at least insofar as the Hussein Ibish who is the Communications Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is concerned. I say this because on March 16, I received an apologetic message from a K. Saaidi who claims to have written the quoted e-mail. He says that he is the son of a Saudi Wahhabi Muslim and an American and was referring to two clerics in Medina named Ibish and Faraoui. I don’t know if this letter is a fiction either.
In any case, insofar as I am able to tell the following statement by the Hussein Ibish who is the Communications Director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee is true: “This is an outrageous and a damned lie. I did no such thing, and I was with no Saudi individual on that day, which was probably the worst and most mournful day of my life. Not only was my country attacked and thousands of my fellow citizens killed by maniacs whose philosophy I detest, all of our efforts on behalf of Arab-American civil rights were dealt a severe blow from which we have yet to fully recover.” Hussein Ibish is rightly upset that the letter from the alleged “Saudi Citizen” contains what are in his words “false accusations” which “constitute not only a vicious and absurd slander, but also an incitement to violence against me.”
He is also correct in saying “I have never met Mr. Horowitz, and he doesn’t know a thing about me.”
For this very reason, however, Hussein Ibish is wrong to claim that posting the words of the alleged Saudi was “pure malevolence” and a calculated “smear” campaign against him, especially since I had no idea who he was. This, too, is an embarrassment. Hussein Ibish is a familiar figure to many cable watchers and would be to me if I were able to spend more time watching cable (or network) TV. I should have recognized his name, but did not. After this whole matter was brought to my attention I did recall seeing him once on Hannity & Colmes, but I did not connect him with the name in the letter, and in any case by the time I realized the connection it was too late.
The fraudulent nature of the claim in the “Saudi” letter (at least insofar as it may have been intended to refer to this Hussein Ibish) was brought to my attention on the evening of the day it was posted (Friday March 15) by my friend Christopher Hitchens, whose word on this matter as far as I am concerned is conclusive. I received Christopher's e-mail Friday night when I returned from a weeklong trip to the Northeast and immediately sent an e-mail apology to Hussein Ibish. In my absence my staff had already removed the letter from FrontPage (actually around 10am Pacific Time, Friday morning). I am posting Christopher’s e-mail as a testimonial to the character of the Hussein Ibish who is Communications Director of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee. I have profound political disagreements with the way this Committee conducts itself and therefore probably with Hussein Ibish. I also have some important areas of disagreement with my friend Christopher Hitchens. But these are irrelevant to the fact that this is a matter of a man’s character and reputation, and it is important to set the record straight. I have therefore removed the letter from our site and am taking this occasion to make a public apology. “Hamid Faraoui” has not been identified by anyone. But if he exists (and is not a cleric in Medina and did not express those sentiments) I apologize to him as well. I also owe an explanation to the readers of FrontPage who count on its editors to post features that are accurate. The offending letter was obviously not an article by one of our regular contributors whose journalistic integrity we count on. Hence it does not reflect on the vast bulk of material that appears on this site. It was an e-mail to “In Your Face,” which is a section of the site reserved for readers to communicate their views to me. In the past I have only posted a handful of letters like the alleged “Saudi” letter, which came from these e-mails or from correspondents unknown to me. As a result of this incident, I will probably not be publishing many such letters in the future.
I did of course indicate in my short note introducing the letter that I had “no way of knowing whether it is authentic.” But I also undermined this caveat by adding that “its particulars seem accurate to me.” I should have been more specific as to which particulars and should have removed names of individuals other than heads of state from the post. I thought at the time that “Hussein Ibish” and “Hamid Faraoui were generic Arabic names and would not be identifiable as individuals except by the writer of the letter.
A Disturbing Letter from a Saudi
By David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 15, 2002
I RECEIVED the following email from someone describing himself as a "Saudi Citizen." I have no way of knowing whether it is authentic, but its particulars seem accurate to me and I invite readers of FrontPage to comment.
Message from a Saudi Citizen
Do not forget that radical Islam is more pervasive in the Arab world than Christianity is in the West. There is no "dissent" or "constructive engagement". The goal of Islam is to destroy anything or anyone that is not Islam. The US is responding, but your intelligence services are still sclerotic and slow. Are you paying attention America? There are two fronts on this war: one military (9/11) and one political.
Islam is colonizing the US, Europe and Asia. Bush is wrong to say that most American Muslims are anti-Terrorism. If they did not cheer in the streets on 9/11, they cheered in their homes. I was with Hussein Ibish and Hamid Faraoui that day, watching them cheering and singing, then denouncing the attacks on TV later that day. Khatami, Hussein and Assad reach out to US democrats, journalists, etc. Many Arabs loved the remarks of President Carter, joking "we may have to kill him last."
Ordinary Americans are rising to the occasion, showing patriotism, sacrificing husbands and fathers. Your coastal elites are assisting radical Islam. They want America to be tolerant of terrorism and to imagine themselves guilty of previous generations crimes. We watch your news. We know this is true. [Bill] Moyers goes as far as saying Judaism, Christianity and Islam are equally guilty of terrorism. These comments are played on Saudi TV amongst reports of Israelis eating Palestinian children. Susan Sontag and Bobby Fischer got front page billing in the Saudi press for comments supportive of the 9/11 attacks, flanked by a pair of stories detailing US racism against Muslims and the killing of Palestinian babies at Israeli hospitals. Lies, of course, but seem true next to actual comments by Americans.
It surprises us moderate Muslims to see half of American society help radical Islam kill America and the West. Your political left is justifying terrorism in the minds of the "Arab street" as you call it. They forget that Usama bin Laden has higher approval numbers in Saudi Arabia than Bush has in the US. Every bit of self doubt or anti-Americanism helps bin Laden. Every Saudi student that comes home after a US college education repeats the anti-Americanism he hears at university. "You see, they even hate themselves," is a refrain heard from many Saudi graduates of US universities.
I can't tell America what to do, but anyone can see what you are doing to yourselves.
Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia