The Ohio State Capitol in Columbus will be the setting for a curious convocation later this month when it hosts an event featuring several well-known Islamic extremists as part of an “interfaith” conference entitled, “The Many Faces of Islam”. The conference, which is to be held in the atrium of the Statehouse on Sunday, October 28th, will feature two well-known speakers with multiple connections to the HAMAS international terrorist organization, a host of convicted terrorist leaders, and colleagues who fled the US to avoid prosecution on terrorism-related charges. The event is sponsored by the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio.
One of the featured speakers at the conference will be Anisa Abd El Fattah, the chair of the National Association of Muslim American Women based in Columbus. Fattah is best known for co-authoring two books with current HAMAS spokesman Ahmed Yousef, The Agent: The Truth Behind the Anti-Muslim Campaign in America and Al-Aqsa Intifada. Yousef fled the US in 2005 to avoid prosecution in the Fawaz Damra terrorist support trial and reappeared in Gaza as the official spokesman for HAMAS, a position he still holds. One recent report in Asharq Alawsat described Fattah’s co-author Yousef as “The Smiling Face of HAMAS”. President Clinton identified HAMAS as a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization in a January 1995 executive order.
Both Yousef and Fattah worked together at the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), where Fattah served respectively as both president and director of public affairs. Yousef and Fattah also co-edited the UASR’s quarterly publication, the Middle East Affairs Journal. As UASR director of public affairs, Fattah issued a press statement in March 2004 condemning the assassination of HAMAS founder Sheikh Yassin and saying that Yassin, who had ordered numerous suicide bombings targeting civilians and was responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent men, women and children, was a man of peace.
UASR was founded in 1989 by Mousa abu Mazook, who currently serves as the Deputy Chief of the HAMAS political bureau in Damascus, Syria, and has been listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US government in 1995. According to a February 1993 New York Times article, convicted HAMAS terrorist operative and former UASR employee, Mohammed Salah, told federal authorities that UASR served as “the political command of HAMAS in the United States”. Another 2004 report by investigative journalist Scott Wheeler, “Alleged Terrorist Threat Operates in DC Suburb”, describes multiple ties between UASR and al-Qaeda.
This past May, UASR was named as unindicted co-conspirator by federal prosecutors in the current Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial. During the trial, FBI agent Lara Burns testified that UASR was part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in America. A 1991 Palestine Committee document introduced as evidence shows that the head of UASR, a position Fattah previously held, was a part of the Central Committee, and states that UASR was “the official organization which represents the media and the cultural aspects to support the cause [HAMAS]. The recording of that history of Islamic work for Palestine and providing a frame for media, political and cultural address is done through it.”
Fattah’s ties to terror are not limited to heading the primary political front group for HAMAS in the US and co-authoring two books with the terrorist group’s current spokesman. In fact, Fattah was actively involved the in formation of the American Muslim Council, which was founded and led by convicted terrorist leader and fundraiser, Abdurahman Alamoudi. Her own bio states that she “has been credited with developing the blueprint for what later became the American Muslim Council, and served for nearly 10 years as an unofficial advisor”, indicating her critical role in the planning and continued operations of the organization. She was also a founding board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
As one of the foremost spokesman for HAMAS in the US, Fattah has published a litany of screeds denouncing “Zionism” and promoting violence against Israeli civilians. A letter to the editor she had published last month in the Columbus Dispatch (“Israelis in Gaza aren’t civilians”), Fattah indicated that any Israeli man, woman or child in Gaza was fair game for terror attacks: “There are no Israeli civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are only illegal Jewish settlers, who, by Israeli law, are also citizen-soldiers. They are heavily armed with fully automatic weapons.”
In a May 2006 article, “Condemning Zionism is crucial to world peace”, Fattah rages against Israel, arguing that Zionism is an “evil and racist ideology that not only directly contrasts everything we profess to stand for as a country, but that also violates every relevant divine, human rights, or other law, including our own laws, as well as every norm of decency known to the human species.” She concludes her article by adding that Zionism was attempting “to expand into Sudan through Darfur”, and thus, responsible for the genocidal violence there, rather than the Islamic government in Khartoum.
An April 2006 article by Fattah, “A Religious History of Justice and Palestine”, begins with her pronouncement that “[t]he racist and colonizing legacy of the Zionist Christian Church, and the Synagogue continues into the 21st Century…”.
This is one of the featured speakers at the “interfaith” conference at the Ohio State Capitol.
Also appearing with Fattah on the “interfaith” panel is Robert D. Crane, who according to his bio served on the UASR Board of Directors from 1996 until its demise after Ahmed Yousef fled the country, and also was instrumental along with Fattah and convicted terrorist leader Abdurahman Alamoudi in the formation of the American Muslim Council, where he was the director of the group’s legal division. He also was the managing editor, in cooperation with co-editors Fattah and HAMAS spokesman Ahmed Yousef, of the UASR’s Middle East Affairs Journal. He is currently an editor for The American Muslim online magazine.
Additionally, Crane served as the director of publications for the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), which in 2004 the Washington Post described as the center of the DC-area terror financing network that “was set up in the 1980s largely by onetime Brotherhood sympathizers with money from wealthy Saudis”. In 1992, IIIT established a partnership with the World Islam and Studies Enterprise (WISE) at the University of South Florida, which was led by Sami al-Arian, the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Another WISE founder, Ramadan Abdulah Shallah, fled the US in 1995 and is currently the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad based in Syria. WISE received more than $50,000 in funding from IIIT, while much of the IIIT’s funding came from the SAAR Network, which was raided by federal authorities as part of Operation Greenquest.
If it weren’t troubling enough that a major HAMAS operative and another individual with multiple connections to terrorist organizations and convicted terrorist leaders were featured speakers at an event at the Ohio State Capitol, the news that outspoken terror apologist Abukar Arman, who was the subject of a FrontPage exposé just a few months ago, “Hometown Jihad: The Somali Terror Apologist Next Door”, which led to his forced resignation from the board that oversees Central Ohio Homeland Security (see “Terrorist Sympathizer Tossed from Homeland Security Panel”), is the individual responsible for organizing this “interfaith” conference will hopefully get the attention of Ohio state legislators. Abukar Arman is a board member of the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio, and he is listed as the contact person for the event and identified as a member of the group’s Education and Executive Committees.
An additional note worth mentioning is that an August 11th conference scheduled to be held at the US Capitol in Washington DC featuring Fattah, Abukar Arman, and CAIR national vice chairman Ahmad Al-Akhras (also a Columbus, Ohio resident and the subject of a FrontPage exposé, “Hometown Jihad: Getting By With a Little Help From His (Terrorist) Friends”), was cancelled the day before the event and denied entry by the US House of Representatives Sergeant-at-Arms when the extremist background of the speakers was discovered.
What remains to be seen is whether officials responsible for booking this conference at the Ohio Statehouse were aware of the extremist views of the scheduled speakers, and whether a sponsoring Ohio legislator was needed to book the event. But in light of the precedent recently established by the US House Sergeant-at-Arms in denying these extremists from holding their event in such a prominent public venue, perhaps Ohio legislative leaders will be prompted to reconsider their tacit endorsement for these terror-tied extremists and the legitimacy that such an event held in the political epicenter of Ohio would give them.
Patrick Poole is Executive Director of Central Ohioans Against Terrorism, and is a regular speaker and consultant on radical Islamic ideology and counterterrorism issues.