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The Other Debate By: Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 09, 2008


Shortly before John McCain and Barack Obama, as the Car Guys would say, wasted a perfectly good hour-and-a-half of America’s time in a largely uninformative town hall meeting, a really interesting debate about the most important issue of our time took place near Baltimore. Sponsored by a local educational organization called The Harbor League, I had at last an opportunity to confront publicly and directly one of the most senior and controversial Muslim officials in the Bush Administration: the Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Suhail Khan.


Readers of these pages will recall my previous writings about Khan and his patron, conservative activist Grover Norquist (notably, here and here).

In these articles, I carefully documented Khan’s personal ties to Wahhabi mosques in California and a variety of organizations identified by the Department of Justice as Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and, in some cases, as un-indicted co-conspirators in a terrorism financing conspiracy. I also reported on the role Norquist has played before and during the George W. Bush administration in facilitating Islamist influence operations involving – at key points, with Suhail Khan’s help at the White House Office of Public Liaison – the likes of now-convicted terrorist-supporters like Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian. Khan serves on the board of the Islamic Free Market Institute, the organization Alamoudi helped Norquist establish a decade ago in his Americans for Tax Reform offices, apparently for the purpose of credentialing Islamists as conservatives, promoting their agenda in Washington and placing their friends in government jobs.

While Khan and Norquist have used various vehicles to denounce these treatments – notably, accusing me of racism and bigotry – they have yet to disprove any of my findings. Last night’s debate addressing the question of whether Islamic law (Shariah) is consistent with a “religion of peace” and the U.S. Constitution was an opportunity for Khan to do so. At the very least, it was a chance for Khan to allay concerns about the attitude of such a highly placed individual towards the Islamists’ stealthy efforts to advance the repressive theo-political-legal code they call Shariah and its stated objective of global Islamic rule under a theocratic leader.

Unfortunately, as the audio of the “Other Debate” shows, Suhail Khan chose to do neither. Instead, from his opening remarks to his impassioned conclusion, he extolled America, its people, its culture, even its national pastime. He inveighed against those “hate-mongers” and “racists” whom he accused of knowing nothing of and defaming Islam (Jihad Watch’s extraordinary director, Robert Spencer, came in for repeated defamation, as did my esteemed colleague, David Yerushalmi). Perhaps in deference to the moderator, Sinclair Broadcasting’s Mark Hyman, who enjoined us from ad hominem attacks, Khan expressed those aimed at me only through oblique references.

For my part, I used the occasion to frame the issue as clearly as I could. (A copy of my prepared remarks – which were pretty much deployed in their entirety, together with several Powerpoint slides can be found here [attached]. The problem, I observed, is Shariah, the theo-political-legal program born of the texts, traditions and practices of authoritative Islam. At its core, Shariah’s agenda is seditious since it is designed to destroy the constitutional government of the United States and replace it with Islamic rule.


This end-state will be achieved here as elsewhere through violent (or “hard”) jihad, if possible. Where that is not immediately practicable, the Muslim Brotherhood has established scores of organizations to promote what might be called “soft” or “stealth” jihad.

The objective, however, is absolutely the same: In the words of an internal planning document written in 1991, “[The Brotherhood’s] work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

I concluded with the following points:

Every U.S. government official swears a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Those officials who are Muslim have a special responsibility to reject Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood organizations stealthily trying to impose it on all of us.

To do otherwise is to fail to act in the face of seditious behavior – a felony offense under the U.S. code known as “misprision of treason.”

We need the help of all patriotic, law-abiding, tolerant Americans who are Muslims in fighting our mutual enemy: Shariah-adherent Islamists in this country and elsewhere.
A key test of which camp they are in is whether they acknowledge the nature of authoritative Islam’s Shariah and the threat it represents to our country and Constitution, and work against – not with – the groups advancing this seditious agenda.

Suhail Khan reacted to this dose of salts in a manner reminiscent of Linda Blair’s character in “The Exorcist,” minus the vomit and physical gyrations. He vehemently insisted that my portrayal of Shariah – from its embrace of the law of “abrogation” (whereby the intolerant, violent passages of the Koran that come chronologically after the more moderate, earlier ones) to its absolutely delineated interpretations and the myriad obligations arising therefrom (including to engage in jihad) – was the stuff of a few extremists like Osama bin Laden and “wack-job web sites.”

In response to my repeated observation that the characterization of Shariah is not mine but that of all of the recognized authorities of Islam, Khan asserted again and again that it was not true. When pressed by a member of the audience to name a single Muslim scholar deemed authoritative by the institutions of his faith (like Al Azhar University in Cairo or the senior clerics of Saudi Arabia) who agreed with his view, he could only come up with three Americans who went to school in the Mideast and who have written as-yet unpublished books Khan claims will affirm his position. I noted that even if these books existed and actually did deviate from the traditions and tenets of Shariah, none of his authors had any standing as Islamic scholars. In any event, according to Shariah, there has been no opportunity for new interpretations of settled Islamic law for nearly 1200 years.

Speaking of the audience, the packed room included a couple of car-loads worth of staff and associates of Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Several of them asked pointed questions taken straight out of the Islamist play-book: asserting a moral equivalence between the extremists of Islam and those of Christianity and Judaism; insisting that there was no problem with authoritative Shariah, only with a small number of terrorists who falsely claim religious grounds for their criminal conduct; and suggesting that if Jews and various Christian sects can have and observe their own laws, why can’t Muslims? The fervor with which these non-Muslim conservative activists parroted the Brotherhood line suggested that more than simple solidarity with their friend, Suhail Khan, is at work in Norquist’s Islamist influence operation.

I closed the program with an appeal to those present – and to the larger audience that may see the Other Debate if, as promised Al Jazeera plays it in its entirety: Do your homework. It is your civic duty to find out whether my characterization of Shariah, its inherently seditious nature and its utter incompatability with our Constitution and freedoms is correct. Or are Suhail Khan’s blithe assurances that Shariah is consistent with a “religion of peace” and no danger to America, nothing more than a program that Muslims can interpret however they wish, to be believed?

As one knowledgeable questioner pointed out, these are questions of fact. Even the most superficial examination of the texts, traditions and institutions of Shariah – helpfully and authoritatively translated into English by the Saudis – will establish that I am correct. And the fact that Suhail Khan says otherwise leaves only two possible explanations: Either he is woefully ignorant of the fundamentals of his own faith or he is willfully dissembling about them in the way Muslim Brotherhood operatives and their friends consistently do.

Whichever may be the case, Suhail Khan clearly is not a reliable source for insights into the central challenge of our time – a challenge that went completely unaddressed in the McCain-Obama debate last night, namely the danger of Shariah and the stealth jihad systematically seeking to insinuate it into our country and society. Khan’s performance in the evening’s Other Debate calls into the question not only his true purposes, but the judgment and wisdom of those who do rely upon him.

Frank Gaffney's Prepared Remarks for his debate with Suhail Khan (who is the Special Assistant for Policy to the Secretary of Transportation):

“Shariah is Anti-Constitutional and Seditious”

The Harbor League
Baltimore, Maryland
7 October 2008

I come to this debate with an expertise in national security matters rather than in the texts, traditions and practices of authoritative Islam. There is, however, a nexus between the two in the theo-political-legal program born of these texts, traditions and practices – a program that the recognized Islamic authorities call “Shariah.”

I am here to discuss Shariah’s profound implications for our national security and for the Constitution of the United States – which is, according to its Article VI, the “supreme law of the land.” [Slide 2]

Shariah 101

The roots of Shariah are to be found in the Koran which Muslims regard as the word of God – or Allah, although most of it is the product of scholars and caliphs who lived hundreds of years after Mohammed’s death. Of particular importance to this debate is the Koranic principle of “abrogation.”

According to the recognized Islamic authorities, Allah made plain in a verse of the Koran known as Sura 2:106 that earlier passages of his revelations to Mohammed would be replaced by “something better.”

Hence, the chronology of the verses of the Koran is all important. (Slide 4)
Passages from the Meccan period, which tend to be peaceable and tolerant were followed by those of the Medinan period, which are in many cases neither.

Two examples are sufficient for the present purpose: what are generally accepted to be the last two Sura of the Koran – Sura 9 which deals with “jihad” and Sura 5 which addresses interfaith relations.

As the next two slides make clear, earlier passages that are often cited as evidence that Islam is a “religion of peace” and tolerant of other faiths, in particular those of “People of the Book” (i.e., Jews and Christians) have in both cases been abrogated in favor of what are believed to be divine directives to use violent means where necessary to assure the triumph of Islam over other faiths and the world. (Slides 5 and 6)

The Shariah Agenda

In fact, all four schools of Sunni Islam and the 1 or 2 schools of Shi’a Islam agree that:

• First, it is God’s will that Islam will rule the world.
• Second, jihad to achieve the global governance of a Caliph/Ayatollah pursuant to Shariah is the obligation of all Muslims.
• Third, those Muslims who don’t adhere to Shariah are apostates – a crime punishable by death.
• Where possible, jihad is to be pursued with terror-inducing violence. Where not, “soft” or “stealth” jihad is to be employed, backed by the threat of violence – if not its actual use elsewhere.

The Muslim Brotherhood

With a view to organizing a disciplined, international effort to wage stealth jihad until such time as violent means could be productively employed, Hassan al-Banna established the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928.

According to an internal memorandum explaining the Brotherhood’s “strategic goal for the group in North America,” written by a top Brotherhood operative here in 1991:

[The Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

Importantly, the memorandum goes on to identify virtually every one of the most prominent Muslim-American organizations as Muslim Brotherhood fronts. It enthuses: “Imagine if they all march to one plan!” In fact, many of these entities have also been identified by the Department of Justice as un-indicted co-conspirators in a terrorism financing conspiracy – the Holy Land Foundation’s fundraising operations on behalf of Hamas.

The Brotherhood’s Program

Focuses of the “soft” jihad being perpetrated by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups to advance this strategic goal in America include:

1) Dominating the Muslim population. The strategy is a classic totalitarian model: segregate the targeted group, promote a sense of its victimhood, radicalize its members and recruit them to action – in this case, jihad. It is being advanced systematically, if incrementally, in mosques, prisons, military, schools and campuses, unions, government and most recently, on what is left of Wall Street in the form of Shariah-Compliant Finance.

2) Intimidating opponents. This involves the imposition in this country of what amounts to Shariah’s law of submission, which prohibits any blasphemy, slander, libel against Islam. The injunction, of course, is applied only one-way; Shariah is virulently intolerant of all other religions. Techniques employed to suppress opposition to the imposition of Shariah – or even discussion of its insinuation into our society include: branding critics as “Islamophobes”; using litigation, legislation and other forms of lawfare to hector or silence them; threats of extradition to places where Shariah courts can impose ghastly penalties for “offending” Islam; ostracism; and, of course, threats of violence.

In liberal societies like ours, this campaign generally exploits civil liberties and human rights and the institutions designed to safeguard them. In this, the Shariah adherents pursuing soft jihad often secure valuable assistance from what the Soviets used to call “useful idiots” – those who are, for whatever reason, alienated from their own nations and disposed to help Islamists who they see as kindred spirits in their alienation. Such help takes the form of assistance with lawsuits and legislation aimed at countering law enforcement, intelligence, interrogation of detainees, etc. It also can be found on campuses, in textbooks and the public square where leftists (among them homosexuals, feminists and Jews) help legitimate a program that will, if fully instituted here, be unpleasant for them, to say the least.

3) Creating parallel societies. The object of the preceding activities is to establish, initially, a separate society for Muslims within that of their host nations in which non-Muslims are the majority. This is accomplished by insinuating preferential arrangements for Muslims – religious accommodations, their own legal code and courts (i.e., Shariah), territorial “no-go” zones and assorted political benefits. Initially, these seem modest and unthreatening. Separate rules governing dress codes, accommodations in public spaces for the practice of a single religion, latitude to deny service or handling of certain products in deference to religious sensibilities, organized labor contracts that substitute of Muslim holy days for Labor Day, etc.

Inevitably, however, these concessions result in pressure from Shariah-adherent Muslims to extend such beachheads ever further. Inevitably, over time if not in relatively short order, a parallel society is in place that is utterly at odds with the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution, its precepts, freedoms and institutions.

The Bottom Line

Taken together, these Shariah-ordained initiatives represent a mortal threat to the security and constitutional government of the United States. The good news is that not all Muslims adhere to Shariah, particularly here in the United States.

The bad news is that those who do include all of the recognized authorities of Islam, they speak for the faith, control its institutions and have enormous resources and infrastructure – including inside the United States (both MB and Wahhabi).

By contrast, those who don’t adhere to Shariah – both here and abroad – are generally without resources, disorganized and often extremely isolated. Worse yet, they are considered apostates by the authorities and millions of their co-religionists – a powerful disincentive to adopting visible public profiles opposing Shariah.

As a result, we confront an unprecedented threat: a Fifth Column inside this country and in other Western societies advancing by stealth, as well as by terror (or the threat of it), a seditious program aimed at destroying the United States and bringing about its people’s submission to Islamic rule under Shariah.

With Us or Against Us?

Every US government official swears a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Those officials who are Muslim have a special responsibility to reject Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood organizations stealthily trying to impose it on all of us.

To do otherwise is to fail to act in the face of seditious behavior – a felony offense under the U.S. code known as misprision of treason.

We need the help of all patriotic, law-abiding, tolerant Americans who are Muslims in fighting our mutual enemy: Shariah-adherent Islamists in this country and elsewhere.

A key test of which camp they are in is whether they acknowledge the nature of authoritative Islam’s Shariah and the threat it represents to our country and Constitution, and work against – not with – the groups advancing this seditious agenda.


Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.


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