Central Ohio government officials were running for cover following my article last week, “Hometown Jihad: The Somali Terror Apologist Next Door”, which revealed that Abukar Arman, a vocal supporter of the Somali terrorist group and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Courts Union (ICU), as well as several other terrorist individuals and organizations, was currently serving on the blue-ribbon board that oversees Central Ohio Homeland Security.
Originally appointed to the Franklin County Criminal Justice Planning Board, which oversees and directs the Office of Homeland Security and Justice Programs in March 2005, he has since been reappointed. Additionally, Arman also serves on the Ohio State Board of Education’s Foreign Language Advisory Board, a position he was appointed to by the Board of Education this past March.
The day after that report appeared, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks sent the following memo to Don Brown, County Administrator, and Karen Crandall, County Homeland Security director, demanding an immediate investigation into the claims made in my FrontPage article regarding Abukar Arman’s support for terrorist organizations:
To: Don Brown, County Administrator
CC: Kathy Crandall, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Programs
From: Paula Brooks, Commissioner
Date: July 12, 2007
I expect this to be investigated expeditiously. If true, these allegations are definitely grounds for removal.
The aide to Commissioner Brooks, RJ Sontag, was also sending out emails to a number of angry constituents distancing Brooks’ from Arman’s original appointment and reappointment to the Criminal Justice Planning Board:
From: "Sontag, RJ" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "XXX" <[removed]>
Subject: RE: Question
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2007 -0400
Dear Mr. XXX:
Commissioner Brooks asked that I share this with you. She did not recommend Mr. Arman, and Commissioner Brooks especially relied on the judgment of the other voting commissioners: Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy and former Commissioner Dewey Stokes – both of whom she thought knew Mr. Arman.
Aide to Commissioner Paula Brooks
Franklin County Board of Commissioners
373 South High Street, 26th Floor
Columbus Ohio 43215
o: (614) 462-5729
f: (614) 462-5999
The other two commissioners, Mary Jo Kilroy and Marilyn Brown, have thus far not responded to constituent inquiries about Mr. Arman’s presence on the board overseeing area Homeland Security.
But on Friday, the urgency and alarm indicated just the day before by Commissioner Brooks’ demand for an immediate investigation was quickly doused by a public statement issued by Franklin County Commission Public Affairs Director Hanna Greer in response to a media inquiry from Dirk Thompson, a radio personality for 610AM WTVN, requesting further clarification on exactly who on the Franklin County Commission was responsible for recommending Abukar Arman for appointment.
In her public statement, Greer alleged that the Criminal Justice Planning Board had no oversight of Homeland Security, and that all documents handled by the board were public record, which directly attacked the credibility of my FrontPage report:
From: Greer, Hanna M. [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Fri 7/13/2007 2:14 PM
To: Thompson, Dirk
Subject: Statement in Response to your Request
Franklin County has implemented a national model for intelligence and information-sharing with trained terrorist and intelligence analysts. We rely on their expertise. We also take seriously any allegation of terrorism and will refer Mr. Poole’s information for review.
The Franklin County Criminal Justice Planning Board meets quarterly to review annual grant applications for funding from the Justice Assistance Grant Program, Violence Against Women Act, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention II and Juvenile Accountability Block Grant from a diverse pool of applicants. The Criminal Justice Planning Board does not oversee homeland security for Franklin County. Those functions belong to police and fire, the Sheriff’s office and the FBI. Any information about homeland security presented to the Board is also available publicly. [emphasis added]
Hanna M. Greer
Public Affairs Director
Franklin County Board of Commissioners
373 S. High St., 26th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
But as Thompson noted in a reply email to Ms. Greer, the Criminal Justice Planning Board released a report in December 2006 available from the County Commission’s own website, “The Franklin County Comprehensive Strategic Justice Plan”, which bears Abukar Arman’s name (pg. 3) and the first page of which directly refutes Greer’s claims that the board had no oversight of county Homeland Security:
The Board is responsible for comprehensive countywide planning and directing the mission of the Office of Homeland Security & Justice Programs. The Franklin County Office of Homeland Security & Justice Programs performs the fiscal and programmatic administration of the county’s federal justice block grants and the Urban Area Security Initiative, provides training and technical assistance for the justice partners and first responders, and is responsible for the development and evaluation of projects and programs operating in accordance with the Franklin County Comprehensive Strategic Justice Plan and the Homeland Security Strategy. [emphasis added]
The second page of that same report also refutes her claim that all Homeland Security documents handled by the Criminal Justice Planning Board are publicly available:
The Homeland Security Strategy was developed in January 2004 by the Homeland Security Advisory Council and is aligned with the State of Ohio’s Homeland Security Strategy. The Strategy is updated annually to identify goals and define the implementation steps necessary to support Franklin County’s First Responders in prevention, protection, response to, and recovery from all-hazard incidents. The Strategy is written in an all-hazards approach to support on-going efforts to provide planning, training, exercising, and equipment to secure critical infrastructure, provide personal protection, improve communications, and promote interoperability. The Homeland Security Strategy is a sensitive document protected under the Homeland Security Act and is referred to in general terms herein. [emphasis added]
This raises the question of whether Ms. Greer is: 1) simply incompetent, in which case she should be immediately fired from her position as Public Information Director; or 2) actively engaged in a larger cover-up on behalf of some or all of the Franklin County Commissioners and staff regarding Abukar Arman’s role in overseeing Central Ohio Homeland Security; which if true, some other Homeland Security institution on the state or federal level should be conducting the investigation demanded by Commissioner Brooks. (Additional follow-up inquiries I made to Kathy Crandall, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Justice Programs, and to Donna Monell, the chairman of the county’s Terrorism Advisory Committee have thus far received no reply.)
Apart from the unanswered question of exactly who was responsible for Arman’s appointment, other questions remain:
1) As the one responsible for the original research regarding Abukar Arman’s support for the Somali ICU, Specially Designated Global Terrorist Youssef Al-Qaradawi, and other terrorist groups and individuals, I have offered my assistance and made available all of my research to the County Commission to help them conduct a thorough investigation, but as of yet, they have not even bothered to even acknowledge my offer, let alone take me up on it. Will they do so? Among the additional evidence I would direct them to for Arman’s support of terrorist organizations would be the post he made on his own blog in January 2006, “HAMAS Victory is a Victory for Democracy and Peace!”, among many other items.
2) Abukar Arman is the sole representative of the Columbus Public Schools on the Criminal Justice Planning Board. Exactly how is it that out of the thousands of school district employees, Mr. Arman was chosen to represent Columbus Public Schools in area Homeland Security matters? An email follow-up asking that very question sent to Jeffrey Warner, Communications Director for the Office of Superintendent for Columbus Public Schools, has yet to receive a reply.
3) When Commissioner Brooks said that if the claims made in my FrontPage article were true, they would be grounds for removing Abukar Arman, did she also have in mind his appointment to the County Planning Commission, which he also was appointed to by the Commissioners, as well as the Criminal Justice Planning Board?
4) What role, if any, did Ahmad Al-Akhras, Arman’s close friend and business partner, play in his various appointments to these government boards and commissions? Al-Akhras (who I recently profiled here at FrontPage, “Hometown Jihad: Getting by with a little help from his [terrorist] friends”) is not only one of Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s closest advisors, but also the national vice chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was recently named unindicted co-conspirator in the HAMAS terror financing federal trial currently underway in Texas (see “CAIR Fingered by Feds”). Al-Akhras also sits on several prominent government boards and commissions in Central Ohio.
5) Thus far, no comment has been made by the Ohio State Board of Education regarding these developments concerning Abukar Arman, who serves on their Foreign Language Advisory Board. Will Arman’s vocal support for terrorist organizations prompt any reconsideration of his recent appointment to that position?
6) Will the Ohio State Board of Education or the Columbus Public Schools look into allegations of possible academic credential inflation by Mr. Arman? In March 2005 announcing his appointment to the Criminal Justice Planning Board, the County Commission press release listed his credentials, stating “Mr. Arman received a bachelor's degree in both management and marketing from Houston Baptist University and has completed graduate level courses in education and social work at The Ohio State University.” But recently, Mr. Arman began billing himself as “Abukar Arman, PhD”, as he did at a recent disaster readiness conference in Columbus this past May when he appeared as a representative for CAIR. Where exactly did he earn this PhD, and what subject was it for? That question has also been directed to Jeffrey Warner at Columbus Public Schools with no reply as of yet.
Be sure to watch for additional updates here at FrontPage Magazine and the Central Ohioans Against Terrorism blog for breaking developments on this story.