Last month FrontPageMag.com published my article, Hometown Jihad, concerning my return to my hometown, Hilliard, Ohio, following a decade-long absence, only to find that one of my new neighbors was none other than Salah Sultan, a well-known international terror apologist and anti-Semite, and that he was a regular speaker at the local Islamic school here in Hilliard, Sunrise Academy.
When the article came out, I harbored no illusions that I would be offered the key to the city, have a public school named in my honor, or be invited to be grand marshal of the July 4th parade for the public service I had rendered to our community by exposing this immediate terrorist threat. Thus far, none of that has happened, nor do I expect such to be forthcoming.
What I couldn’t anticipate, however, was that Salah Sultan’s supporters in the Islamic and “interfaith community” here in the Columbus area would enlist the services of the local paper, the Columbus Dispatch, to airbrush Sultan’s record and defend the Islamic school he is associated with, while simultaneously launching an attack on FrontPage Magazine and myself, likening us to neo-Nazis, and accusing me of “inciting violence against the children of the school” and engaging in “hate speech”.
But that’s in fact what happened.
In recent days important new information has surfaced about our local jihadi preacher. As initially reported by MEMRI (and later picked up by JihadWatch.org, where I noticed the item), Salah Sultan was on Al-Risala TV last week (May 17th), where he was recorded saying that the 9/11 attacks were planned by the US “to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world, and to get American society to agree to the war declared on terrorism,” and defending Yemeni al-Qaeda cleric Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani, who has been listed by the US government as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”.
This is what Salah Sultan had to say about the 9/11 attacks in his Al-Risala interview (full video clip of his comments available from MEMRI TV):
I share the view of many Americans, French, and Europeans, who say that 9/11 could not have been carried out entirely from outside [the U.S.] - by Muslims or others. The confessions by some people could have been edited. But even if they were not edited, I believe that these people were used in a marginal role. The entire thing was of a large scale and was planned within the U.S., in order to enable the U.S. to control and terrorize the entire world, and to get American society to agree to the war declared on terrorism - the definition of which has not yet been determined.
Remember, this is the man that the Columbus Dispatch, the staff and supporters of Sunrise Academy and the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio not even two weeks previous had taken to defend as a “peaceful, moderate Muslim teacher”.
When my Hometown Jihad article was published, I contacted the local news desk at the Columbus Dispatch and inquired whether they would be interested in following up on my story. I was told unequivocally that they weren’t interested.
A few weeks later, I was contacted by FrontPage managing editor, Jamie Glazov, who forwarded me an email he had received that was being circulated by Leslie Stansbery, President of the Interfaith Association, challenging the accuracy of my article that also included a detailed response from a Sunrise Academy teacher, Norma Tarazi. Tarazi accused me of “inciting violence against the children of the school” and that I was engaging in “hate speech”. Mr. Glazov asked me if I would prepare a response to the individual that had contacted him, which I provided to him within a few hours.
That same day, he forwarded me another email from Columbus Dispatch religion page reporter, Felix Hoover, who was looking to contact me about my article. Something was clearly afoot. I met with Mr. Hoover for almost an hour the following day, showing him all of the documentation for the claims I made in my article, and later sending him four separate emails of source documentation and additional information about Salah Sultan’s terror associations and extremist fatwas that I had uncovered in my research that didn’t appear in my article.
Among the additional information and documentation I provided to the Dispatch:
- I had noted in Hometown Jihad Salah Sultan’s association with Qatar-based extremist cleric, Youssef Qaradawi, who has issued fatwas justifying HAMAS suicide bombings and permitting the murder of American civilians in Iraq. Sultan had hired Qaradawi for the Islamic-American University, which Sultan had founded, despite the fact that Qaradawi had been banned from the US since 1999 for his terrorist activities. Additionally, Sultan issues “live fatwas” on Qaradawi’s Islam-online.net website, and serves on Qaradawi’s European Council for Fatwa and Research, which in 2003 declared that jihadist killings and suicide bombings were not to be identified as “terrorism”. What I had not mentioned was that Sultan was identified in an August 2005 report by the Anti-Defamation League, Theologian of Terror, identifying his connection with Qaradawi and charging Sultan with “fomenting anti-Semitism and terror”.
- In July 2003, Salah Sultan shared the podium at the annual Islamic Council of North America/Muslim American Society convention with notorious neo-Nazi William Baker, the once-chairman of the Populist Party, which under his tenure pushed for the revival of segregation-era laws and later would nominate David Duke for President. At the time of my interview with Mr. Hoover and in a subsequent email exchange, I noted that if I had ever shared the podium with a known neo-Nazi (which I haven’t), it would surely be mentioned in the first sentence of Hoover’s forthcoming Dispatch article.
- I provided links to several of Sultan’s fatwas, including one that declared that Palestinians were forbidden to sell their property to Jews; another that said that women are not allowed to go to the store without the husband's permission (4th fatwa); and a ruling telling an American woman who married a Muslim man who later got married to a second wife that if she objects to the second marriage and wants to keep her marriage she better get pregnant soon (3rd fatwa). I expressed my curiosity to Mr. Hoover as to what the officials of the Interfaith Association who were rising to Sultan and Sunrise Academy’s defense would respond to Sultan’s rulings.
- In April 2005, Sultan responded to Swiss Muslim writer and speaker, Tariq Ramadan, who had called for a moratorium on shari’a law punishments, including stoning, beheading and amputation until Western law rose to the high standard of “social justice and equality” of Islamic law. But Sultan publicly challenged Ramadan’s shari’a moratorium, saying that “such an issue may give a chance to secularists and anti-Islamists to move to attack Islam itself” and recommending that Ramadan should “consult trustworthy Muslim scholars in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Muslim countries where Islamic legal penalties are still being applied”.
Yes, Salah Sultan is a real voice of peace and moderation.
I also addressed with the Dispatch reporter the claims made by Sunrise Academy challenging my article. One item they disputed was their connection to the Muslim American Society, an organization founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. I referred Mr. Hoover to a flier posted on Sunrise Academy’s parent organization, the Islamic Society for Greater Columbus, website promoting a Muslim American Society Youth Conference just a few days before my Hometown Jihad article appeared listing Sunrise Academy as a co-sponsor of this Muslim American Society event. But, of course, they still claim no association with MAS.
Sunrise Academy also disavowed any formal association with Salah Sultan, claiming that he was just a parent with two students at the school. But I pointed out to the Columbus Dispatch that:
1) Sultan had previously served as the school’s religious director.
2) Sultan delivers lectures at the Sunrise Academy facility once a month;
3) Sultan directs the Islamic Education & Fatwa Center, which is sponsored by the same parent organization as Sunrise Academy, the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus;
4) Sultan spoke in conjunction with Sunrise Academy's annual Iftar fundraiser last October;
5) Sultan's website is promoted and linked to on Sunrise Academy's own website.
I thought that I, or anyone else for that matter, could be forgiven for “confusing” these as substantive reasons for believing that there was a formal connection between Sunrise Academy and Salah Sultan.
When the Columbus Dispatch article regarding the matter, Muslim Milestone: Islamic school marks 10 years of progress, but suspicions endure, finally appeared on May 5th, none of this information I had provided backing up the claims of my previous article was ever mentioned. I should note that Mr. Hoover held onto the article for several weeks so that his article would appear the day before Sunrise Academy’s May 6th open house, which the Dispatch article actively promoted. Sunrise Academy officials had already admitted that the open house was scheduled as a public relations move to counter my article.
It took Mr. Hoover sixteen paragraphs before my Hometown Jihad article and the concerns I had raised about the school and its connection with Salah Sultan was mentioned. The discussion about my article was listed under the editorial heading “Hostile assertions”.
But the real hostile assertion was when Mr. Hoover likened FrontPageMag.com as a neo-Nazi propaganda tool. Here’s what he wrote:
FrontPageMag.com is edited by conservative activist David Horowitz, known for his campaign against perceived liberal bias on college campuses. Another article in the April 3 edition said U.S. immigration policy should be shaped by the nation's "overwhelmingly Christian" and "overwhelmingly white"' heritage.
Did you catch that? "Christian" "white" "heritage"? What else could he mean but that FrontPage Magazine is a White-Power front, and that I am, by implication, a Neo-Nazi? Anyone who regularly reads FrontPageMag.com or knows David Horowitz knows how laughable this claim really is.
I admit that I was concerned before the Dispatch article appeared that I would be the object of “Six Degrees of Adolf Hitler” when on April 26th, Mr. Hoover emailed me with these two questions:
Is FrontPageMag.com among the online publications that you deplore or strongly agree with? What are some of the public-policy organizations for which you worked?
Smelling the set-up, I responded:
I'm sure that you understand that the publications I have written for have published thousands, if not tens of thousands, of articles from hundreds of contributors that I would have no way of evaluating each and every one for ideological content. Very generally I agree with the libertarian editorial policies of FrontPage, but I'm certain that someone has said something at sometime on FrontPage that I would disagree with. I'm sure the Dispatch has published something that you haven't agreed with in your long tenure there. The same would be true for the public policy organizations I've worked for: I can't necessary speak to every position those organizations have taken before, during or after my respective tenure at each. I can only discuss the nature of my own work for such…If you have some specific questions about the publications or organizations I've associated with I'll try and answer as best as far as I am able. My apologies if I seem unduly suspicious, but I understand how easily statements can be decontextualized and given very different meanings than intended.
I thought I didn’t give him much wiggle room and I thought that this response would force him to ask me for specifics if he had found something that could be presented as objectionable on FrontPageMag.com. Needless to say, I was wrong. He clearly had something in mind but denied me the chance to respond. But who ever said that there was bias in the mainstream media?
I must admit that I find it baffling that the Columbus Dispatch would go so far out of its way to serve as a useful idiot to organizations and individuals who would eliminate the freedom of the press if they had their way; and I’m equally surprised that a journalist like Felix Hoover, who has been with the Dispatch for seventeen years, would subvert the most basic rules of fairness and journalistic objectivity to play handmaiden to Islamic extremists and the “interfaith community”. But from here on the working-end of their slander, that’s how it has gone down.
As I said in Hometown Jihad, what concerns me most about Salah Sultan is that he is my neighbor; and as a result of his well-known terror ties, he poses a standing threat to the community I was raised in and where scores of family and friends live. He not only resides here, but freely spreads his message of hate and violence in our community. Just is troubling is that, Sunrise Academy, while claiming to be run by peace-loving, moderate Muslims, unapologetically hosts and promotes an individual like Salah Sultan.
If anything, what’s happening here in the Columbus area should serve as a warning to the whole of America, because there are probably hundreds or possibly thousands of communities across the country just like Hilliard, Ohio, which unbeknownst to most residents harbor would-be jihadists and/or active terror apologists and jihad preachers. At present, these individuals and groups plead moderation and sign statements opposing terrorism, but they nurture hatred for America and defend violence against America and our allies when they think no one is looking. Anyone who doubts that should watch the video Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America by former CNN reporter Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project.
This faux moderation is a deliberate part of their strategy of Islamic conquest, as Salah Sultan made clear in a speech he gave in April 2004 for the New York chapter of the Muslim American Society, where he said:
Da'wah [conversion] work can never succeed unless Muslims embed themselves within the very marrow of American society.
Salah Sultan has embedded himself into American society here in Hilliard, Ohio, making good on his threat and serving as an example for those like him. If the blackening of my name by the Columbus Dispatch by likening me to a Neo-Nazi is the price I have to pay to warn my community about who is living amongst us and the potential threat they pose, I will gladly pay it.
I just appreciate that there are still outlets like FrontPageMag.com where concerned citizens like myself who see these threats can be heard while the mainstream media, such as the Columbus Dispatch, get into bed with the most radical and extremist elements who want to destroy our freedoms. As long as there are media alternatives like FrontPageMag.com willing to challenge the media, academic and political elite, there’s still hope for America.
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