Abukar Arman admits that it has been a tough few weeks following a FrontPage exposé last month that examined his extensive online writings in defense of terrorist organizations and individuals, all while he sat on the blue-ribbon Franklin County Criminal Justice Planning Board that oversees Central Ohio Homeland Security programs (“Hometown Jihad: The Somali Terror Apologist Next Door”).
As a direct result of that report, Arman was forced to resign last Friday from the Planning Board after officials discovered that as a non-US citizen he wasn’t eligible to be on the board; and in a curiously-timed bureaucratic move, he also lost his Columbus Public Schools adult education job after they discovered that he hadn’t kept up his teaching credentials and the grant funding his position suddenly disappeared. A CPS spokesman said the move had absolutely nothing to do with the FrontPage report though these events occurred immediately after it was published, though Arman told a local paper that he believed the FrontPage story had everything to do with his present woes.
Meanwhile, the County Commission continues to sit on an Open Records Act request submitted by FrontPage on July 30th regarding Arman’s appointment to the Planning Board and their alleged investigation into his extremist statements while simultaneously sharing some of the same information with a local media establishment reporter – a possible violation of state law. Other local media outlets who have been critical of the Commission’s handling of the matter, such as radio talk show host Dirk Thompson of 610WTVN, have also complained of being stonewalled in their request for information.
Following these developments, the same politicians who appointed Arman to his Planning Board post have carefully crafted a narrative to make it appear that nothing has really happened, even though they were forced to cut their losses with Arman, and continuing to insist that FrontPage had nothing to do with it. And they have enlisted the help of their establishment media allies in Columbus to float it.
We initially reported Arman’s statements of support for the al-Qaeda-backed Somali Islamic Courts Union, HAMAS, Hezbollah and designated terrorist Youssef Al-Qaradawi. One example is a blog post he published in January 2006 entitled, “HAMAS Victory is a Victory for Democracy and Peace!”. A few days later we noted that the Franklin County Commission had told constituents that an investigation was underway, only to begin immediately backpedaling on their assurances that Mr. Arman’s extremist views would be investigated (“The Columbus Homeland Security Cover-Up”).
Then earlier this week, the Columbus Dispatch weighed in on the matter only to claim that the promised investigation actually cleared Arman (“Investigation clears Hilliard man”), even though the County Commission now admits the investigation they had promised didn’t actually happen and despite the fact that he was still forced to resign. The article quoted County Administrator Don Brown as saying, “We did a background check and found no criminal or terrorist connections… Mr. Arman is not a person of interest”.
Of course, no one accused Abukar Arman of criminal activity or being involved in terrorism, at least not FrontPage, but only speaking in support of terrorist organizations while sitting on the Homeland Security oversight board. From the information they provided to the Dispatch, it seems that their “investigation” went no further than that, which itself can’t be confirmed until the County Commission complies with our Open Records Act request (discussed further below).
FrontPage readers might recall that the Columbus Dispatch was the same outfit that rose to the defense of Muslim Brotherhood and HAMAS operative Salah Sultan last year following a FrontPage report, publishing a defense of Sultan just days before he appeared on Saudi TV to claim that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks and to praise an al-Qaeda-linked cleric (see “Hometown Jihad: Blowback”). This is also the same newspaper whose President and CEO, Mike Curtain, has spoken at a CAIR-OH Leadership Conference hosted at the same Islamic school where Siraj Wahhaj, unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has also recently appeared at fundraising events (see, “Hometown Jihad: The School Gym that Terror Built”).
They are going so far as to claim that the Planning Board has no involvement with Homeland Security, even though the Board’s own published Comprehensive Strategic Justice Plan says otherwise, and off the record statements made to FrontPage by several members of the Planning Board have confirmed that they do oversee the Office of Homeland Security and Justice Programs (the board even handles Homeland Security employee dispute appeals).
Only half-way into the Dispatch article do we discover that the investigation into Arman’s statements demanded by County Commissioner Paula Brooks was substantially different than what she and her staff had promised constituents. Brooks is also the commissioner who initially dismissed her involvement in appointing Abukar Arman to the Planning Board, placing blame on the other two commissioners, only to have it revealed that she was the one who moved the original resolution making the appointments (the resolution bearing her signature can be found here) and seconding the resolutions for his two subsequent reappointments.
Even the Dispatch noted how her story had changed to downgrade the seriousness of the investigation they claimed they were undertaking:
Two commissioners, Marilyn Brown and Mary Jo Kilroy, didn't respond to Poole. The third, Paula Brooks, sent an e-mail to Brown on July 12.
"Don, I expect this to be investigated expeditiously," Brooks wrote. "If true, these allegations are definitely grounds for removal."
Brooks said her wording was stronger than her intention. "In hindsight, I wish that I had used the term fact-finding," she said.
There is no indication that Mr. Arman’s statements in support of terrorist organizations was ever considered in their “fact-finding”, which calls into question the actual nature of the “investigation clears” claim made in the headline by the Dispatch, when they readily admit there wasn’t much of an investigation in the first place beyond a criminal background check that wasn’t related to the claims made in the initial FrontPage report.
In the end, however, the investigation into Arman’s extremist views didn’t matter as it was discovered that Arman isn’t even a US citizen, and thus was ineligible to be appointed to the Planning Board in the first place, necessitating his resignation last Friday.
The County Commission said that it will not issue a report on the matter and it has also yet to respond to an Open Records Act request on July 30th (though they did respond to a similar Dispatch request asking for the some of the same information). Admittedly, withholding information from FrontPage while releasing some of the same information to the Dispatch has made it easy for the three Democratic members of the Franklin County Commission to shape the public narrative of events how they see fit, but they may have broken state laws in doing so.
Notwithstanding the absence of an actual investigation or official determination regarding Arman’s extremist statements identified in the original FrontPage report, officials from the the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) rushed to declare Arman vindicated despite his forced resignation and denounced what they called a “witch hunt” by FrontPage. Local Leftist bloggers quickly followed suit, casting their own epithets and online invective, quickly aligning themselves with the County Commission and Columbus Dispatch’s version of events.
There is no indication when the Franklin County Commission will finally release the information requested in the FrontPage Open Records Act request regarding Arman’s appointment to the Planning Board and how detailed an investigation actually occurred; and until then, no real determination can be made about how much or how long they sat on that request while they simultaneously passed information to the Columbus Dispatch. If anything, this episode reveals the lengths to which our political leaders in Central Ohio will go to protect their Islamist associates and supporters, either by pretending to act decisively while attempting to minimize the political fallout, or even going so far as to potentially violate state Open Records laws by playing media favorites with public information disclosures.
Abukar Arman may be gone from the Planning Board overseeing Central Ohio Homeland Security, but many questions about his appointment to that board and the County Commission’s questionable handling of the claims made in the original FrontPage report remain unanswered.