“People, when you corner them [Muslims], when you keep attacking them and demonizing them and treating them like animals, guess what? They’re gonna snap. And one point, somebody’s gonna retaliate, and then all hell’s gonna break loose.” (Ahmed Bedier speech at the University of South Florida, ‘The Rise of Islamophobia,’ April of 2007)
When two Tampa-area students were arrested near a South Carolina Naval base and charged with possession of explosive devices, a prominent Muslim leader in Southwest Florida rushed to their defense. The organization that he came from – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – has been cited many times for its terrorist ties, even having been named as a co-conspirator in a terror trial. Nevertheless, in the eyes of the media, Bedier represents a credible source. One has to wonder, though, how long, after incidents such as these, that this farce will be able to sustain itself?
Saturday night, August 4th, Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed and Yousef Samir Megahed, two non-American students from the University of South Florida (USF), were caught speeding near a Naval Weapons Station in South Carolina. The station houses a military prison, where enemy combatants have been held. According to reports, the officers became suspicious, because the men quickly put away a laptop computer and, when questioned, couldn't immediately say what they were doing in the area or where they were headed. Upon searching the trunk of the vehicle, found were what appeared to be a number of lead pipe bombs. The two were arrested and soon charged with possession of an incendiary device, which, if convicted, could earn them two to fifteen years each.
Immediately after the story broke, members of the Islamist defense spin machine sprung into action. Among them was Ahmed Bedier, the Executive Director of the Tampa office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) and the Communications Director of CAIR-Florida. To Bedier, at least from what he has said, the arrests were nothing but a case of racism or, as he put it, “racial profiling.” He stated, “Obviously their heritage and background is playing a major role in blowing this out of proportion.” And “We believe that there’s an overreaction that [is] happening here just because of their Middle Eastern and Muslim backgrounds.”
It was clever for Bedier to play the race card, albeit with clumsy wording. He probably understood that, if it is determined that the only reason that the two were stopped was due to their facial features, the case could be thrown out of court, which clearly is his goal. And anyway, even if it turned out to be poor judgement on Bedier’s part, history shows that the ramifications for him with such a move will result in no adverse consequences for him or his organization.
Throughout his tenure with CAIR, for the last four-and-a-half years, Bedier has acted as the unofficial spokesman in the media for Sami Al-Arian, a co-founder and the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Today, Al-Arian sits in a lonely jail cell as a convicted terrorist. About the judge that originally sentenced him, Bedier says he was “biased and unfair.”
On December 7, 2005, Bedier appeared on Your Turn with Kathy Fountain, a local Tampa T.V. talk show, to discuss the original Al-Arian verdict. Bedier was asked if he believed Al-Arian’s association with PIJ was immoral. He responded, “To a certain degree. Now, before 1995 there was nothing immoral about it.” Bedier would later attempt to cover-up his words, stating that he really meant to say “illegal” and not “immoral.” Of course, the use of the term “illegal” was entirely out of context with the question he was asked, but to the mainstream media that was not a problem, as both the cover-up and the original statement went ignored.
Besides his role with CAIR, Bedier also co-hosts a radio program – ironically called True Talk – on Tampa’s WMNF. He has done so for the past two-plus years. Regularly featured on it are numerous Islamist radicals. They include Al-Arian’s PIJ co-conspirator Sameeh Hammoudeh, who pled guilty to and was deported for tax fraud in May of 2006. Hammoudeh was interviewed by Bedier from prison.
On July 21, 2006, Bedier did a pro-Hezbollah show, where all three of his guests lauded the terror group. Listeners were treated with statements of how Hezbollah was “heroic,” how it was a “liberation movement,” and how “You can’t just keep shutting it away, because it’s always gonna rise again.” Not one word from the media, about this or Hammoudeh. Nothing.
Last month, CAIR was named as a co-conspirator to the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas, in the trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). CAIR was named for good reason. CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and HLF were the brainchildren of the same individual, at the time the head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. Our government appears to be getting wise to CAIR, yet the media still refers to the group as a “civil rights” organization – even when its leaders defend the indefensible.
Bail has been set for Mohamed and Megahed, at $500,000 and $300,000 respectively. Bedier, who is now acting as their spokesman, lamented that they probably will not pay it, because they have no one to stay with in South Carolina. He told the press that it was an “undue hardship.” And like clockwork, they printed it, without any question, without a concern.
Ahmed Bedier is a self-proclaimed community leader, because the media has never challenged his role. However, time and time again, Bedier has shown – just as his organization has, behind him – that he is nothing more than a mouthpiece for those that wish to do us harm. What will it take for the media to begin to figure out that Ahmed Bedier is not just a quote in the story? He is the story.
Beila Rabinowitz, the Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.