“Why can’t we get anyone but criminals to come here to SFSU and speak?” Robert Journey, treasurer of San Francisco State University College Republicans asked rhetorically as five members of the campus club met to attend a lecture by Lynne Stewart. The terrorist lawyer, who billed herself as a “Civil Rights Lawyer and Political Prisoner,” was recently convicted of conspiracy and for passing along fatwas (Islamic religious edicts) from Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to his terrorist followers in Egypt’s Islamic Group. Rahman is the blind sheikh responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 that left six Americans dead and more than 1,000 people injured.
Her trial lasted seven months, and the jury deliberated 13 days before convicting her and two co-conspirators, one of whom (Ahmed Abdhel Sattar) was wiretapped making calls to al-Qaeda while the other (Mohammed Yousry) translated messages to be sent to a terrorist leader overseas.
SFSU College Republicans protesting Lynne Stewart visit.
Just prior to attending this event, I met Muata Kenyatta, Director of Arts and Lectures at
SFSU and asked him if student activity money had gone to pay for Stewart’s presentation on campus. Kenyatta replied that he wasn’t sure but acknowledged that most campus groups receive such funding. He also said he had no idea who Lynne Stewart was. When I explained her background, he said SFSU needed more conservative speakers and that the present habit of bringing only leftist speakers to campus is “bad for national security if you don’t have dissenting views to balance that out. The responsible thing is to show both sides.”
Kenyatta is no knee-jerk Bush supporter; he expressed dismay at the Patriot Act stifling civil liberties, although he could not cite any specific examples. He felt Lynne Stewart had a right to speak on campus regardless of who she was or what she did, but he also said he would entertain the notion of having more conservative speakers come to campus as well, saying efforts to disrupt David Horowitz’s speech were “sophomoric.” “David Horowitz gave me a challenge and I like a challenge,” Kenyatta concluded.
The International Socialist Organization at SFSU, an organization that advocates the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, sponsored Stewart’s appearance along with Students Against War, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Stewart’s appearance was set up as part of a program to aid three students and six radical campus organizations on the SFSU campus currently facing disciplinary proceedings from the administration for interfering with and driving off military recruiters from the Bay Area campus. The speech by Stewart was also billed as a group effort to aid Stewart and the groups that brought her to campus in their “struggle” against the United States (and tangentially, Israel). Stewart was repeatedly cited as a symbol of the “oppression” and “racism” of America, even though she is a privileged white woman.
Despite the hype, turnout was poor for the event. Although SFSU is known as one of the most radical campuses in the country, only about 35 Stewart attended the event, held at noon in the Business department. About 10 protestors were at the rear of the room bearing posters with messages that called Stewart a “Terrorist-Enabler” and reminding people that her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, had murdered innocent Americans. The protestors, in contrast to earlier ISO demonstrations against military recruiters or an earlier speech given by David Horowitz, stood quietly and politely just holding signs and made no effort to disrupt the event.
Just outside the room where Stewart was to speak, a small but noisy leftist demonstration raged on, as 10 people voiced their support for the student activists who had driven off the campus military recruiters on March 9. They held up signs that read “Military recruiters lie, Children Die!” and “College Not Combat!” An African-American woman going by the name “Pam Africa” shouted to the crowd and news cameras, “Right on to the students who will take on the tyranny of the government!” Most students passing by ignored them.
As we were lined up outside to enter the classroom where Stewart would appear, I thought I spotted Jess Ghannam, a pro-PLO activist based in San Francisco, but I wasn’t sure it was him. I asked one of the students to ask his name. As the student approached, one of the students from the ISO yelled out to Ghannam, “Careful! That guy is a college Republican!”
One of the college Republicans told me the fellow shouting the warning earlier to Ghannam was David Russatano, a campus radical depicted in an earlier FrontPage story. Russatano took part in a joint Palestinian-radical demonstration attacking their political enemies during the presidential electionRussatano stood on a table, called for revolution, and called the campus cops pigs. “He starts foaming at the mouth when he sees us,” commented one of the college Republicans.
Ghannam, even back in his undergraduate days at UC Berkeley, fancied himself a Palestinian revolutionary. Born in the U.S. to a Christian Arab family from the West Bank that left for the United States, he has always railed against Israel, despite anti-Christian persecution by the Muslim majority in the Arab world. Today he is a professor of psychiatry at UC-San Francisco’s medical school. He is also an inveterate liar when it comes to political issues about Israel and the United States, frequently recounting Israeli atrocities that have never occurred. Today, Ghannam is the President of the San Francisco Chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The ADC is active in the training and organizing of activists in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who go to the West Bank and purposely interfere with anti-terrorist operations of the Israeli army. I attended once undercover an orientation for the ISM given by Ghannam where he blatantly lied trying to claim Israel was an apartheid state like South Africa. Ghannam also frequently flies to the Middle East to work with hospitals in Gaza, although most Gazan hospitals are under the auspices of the terrorist group Hamas. Ghannam also recently organized an intifada celebratory event at a middle school in San Francisco where a spokesman for the Abu Sayyef was the honored guest. Abu Sayyef is a terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda.
I met briefly Lynne Stewart’s husband and chief organizer, Ralph Pointer, who denied any student activity money had been paid to bring Stewart to campus. “Lynne Stewart has done more pro bono work in her career and legal aid than anyone I know,” he said. “She has serviced the black, Latino and poor white communities.” He claimed the charges against his wife were ridiculous, saying she was indicted for a “conspiracy to conspire.” He continued, “All my statements are colored by the fact I’m a black American who knows history, about Jim Crow, slavery and the inequalities that we face personally. When I asked him what that had to do with aiding Muslim terrorists by passing information overseas he responded, “Supporting Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist act.” (Actually, it wasn’t considered such once the African National Conference negotiated with the South African government that violent crimes would be distinguished from political dissent where the potential of physical harm to people was not likely.) Pointer was convicted of assaulting some Jewish women during the attacks carried out by black militants in New York in the late 1960’s during demonstrations in the Oceanville-Brownville area demanding that Jewish teachers not be allowed to teach black inner city school children. Lynne Stewart married him afterward, but voiced approval of his physical attacks on Jews.
When I asked once again what any of this had to do with passing religious edicts to Muslim terrorists for Abdel Rahman, after he demonstrated his murderous intent, Pointer claimed that Abdel Rahman was never charged with the 1993 bombings of the World Trade Center!
Pointer also said his wife was no different than the Vietnamese soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. “I say this (the War on Terror) is an illegal war.” He continued, “Blood for oil! There’s a War on Drugs, a War on Terror, I believe that there’s a war on the American people!” His message was clear: victory to the enemies of the United States.
As soon as I sat down inside I was handed the following flyer from the Students Against War:
Apparently these students aren’t against all war.
The first speaker introduced was Billy Caudy from Students Against War (SAW). “People of Iraq and our soldiers are dying and need our help now!” he exclaimed. After the ritual denunciation of this “illegal and immoral war,” he asserted, “The war has resulted in the deaths of 1,500 of our soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis!” (Iraqi civilian casualties are estimated accurately at less than 20,000, although hundreds have been killed in recent months by other Iraqis and foreign terrorists, like the one flashing the victory sign in the SAW flyer’s photo.) Caudy had no comment about the legality of terrorists blowing up Iraqis who attempted to vote or find jobs working for Iraq’s new democratic government.
Caudy also justified the earlier rousting of military recruiters from the student union building: “It is our center and we have the right to turn them back!” He lamented the administration’s disciplinary hearings against students who threatened the recruiters and made them leave.
Next up was Katrina Yeaw from the International Socialist Organization, who accused the SFSU administration of “attacking” the six students up for discipline for violating the rights of other students and the campus code of conduct.
Next up came Jess Ghannam, who was introduced this time as a leader of the Free Palestine Alliance and Visiting Professor of Ethnic Studies at SFSU. (I wondered if he was on the state’s payroll and what degrees he held qualifying him as a Professor of Ethnic Studies, other than being a Palestinian flack and activist.) Considering that the SFSU administration just axed the Engineering department at the university due to budget limitations, retaining someone like Ghannam on the payroll is truly amazing.
He opened by saying, in awkward-sounding English, “For me as a Palestinian, as a man of color, a true hero is Lynne Stewart.” Ghannam, would pass as a white man in any society and is the same color as more than half of Israel’s Middle Eastern Jewish population, continued:
I am confronted with a system that at any moment can take me away and strip me of my constitutional rights. But I have the power to call my attorney. With what is happening to Lynne Stewart they are taking away the delusional security that Arab-Americans, people of color have – the constitution does not apply to everybody. Arab-Americans are on the chopping block of free speech. Now they are going after their attorneys like Lynne Stewart (no other attorneys representing terrorists in the War on Terror have ever been indicted).
He continued in a sad tone, “Lynne Stewart is intimately connected to Palestine, to Oakland, to the health care infrastructure for people of color.” He claimed she represented the “oppressed community” that “could lose their homes.”
Ghannam then ranted, “Iraq is not only under occupation. Palestine is under occupation.
Oakland is under occupation. SFSU is under occupation.”
Next up came Pam Africa, who voiced support for cop killer Mumia Abdul Jamal. She claimed as a black radical the U.S. government had killed eleven people in her “family” and was really a terrorist movement “designed to stop free speech.” Africa was referring to a 1985 standoff and shootout that ended when the city of Philadelphia moved in on her Black radical group, MOVE, and eleven MOVE members were killed. Years earlier, the same black radical group was involved in the killing of another Philadelphia police officer, so Africa’s support for Mumia did not seem unusual.
“We got a president of the Unites States who is not really the President, most people didn’t vote for him. The United States is an occupied government, “Africa said, ”based on the destruction of the natives.” She didn’t explain how she or her group were “natives”
as opposed to other ethnic groups, nor how President Bush is not really president after receiving more votes than any candidate in history. “Nathan Hale was a freedom fighter but Lynne Stewart is a terrorist? Tomorrow it will be the mothers and the brothers forced into battle lines to stop all the rapin’, thievin’ and killin’ by the government. If something were to happen tomorrow, I’d be looking for a lawyer like Lynne Stewart.” Her rant and diatribe drew cheers and applause from the Stewart supporters present. “Continue to be an example of resistance to tyranny!” she concluded.
Matt Gonzalez was introduced next. A former President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Gonzalez ran for mayor but was rejected as too radical even for San Francisco. He blamed the United States for terrorism: “After 9/11, the U.S. went in a wrong direction. Rather than changing our foreign policy, we repressed our own people. The Patriot Act was just waiting to be used. As part of that, Lynne Stewart was attacked. How could the other side listen in under the guise of patriotism and ruin our democracy?” He maintained the evidence against Stewart should have been found unconstitutional. “They don’t have a case,” he declared months after Stewart’s conviction.
The U.S. government actually treaded lightly in exercising its prerogatives under the Patriot Act. In fact, the attorney general’s office took two years to build its case against Stewart.
More importantly, no other pro-terror lawyers have been so charged, despite the harm they do to this country, because they have not violated any law. The Bush administration would have many to choose from. More than 1,500 lawyers offered pro bono legal services to Zaccarias Moussaoui after 9/11. Ramsey Clark has represented Saddam Hussein before and after the war in Iraq. William Kuntsler (who, incidentally, hooked Stewart up with the Sheikh), Ron Kuby, Michael Tigar, Stanley Cohen (Stewart’s former legal partner), and other attorneys representing suspected and/or known terrorists have never been indicted or prosecuted under the Patriot Act.
Cindy Sheehan followed this act. Wearing a sweatshirt advertising the website for United for Peace and Justice, Sheehan was interviewed outside just before the meeting by an ABC-TV news reporter. Sheehan said then that military recruiters should not be allowed on college campuses, maintaining they trick naïve 18-year-olds with offers of money and scholarships. Tragically, Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey who was in the Army and was killed two weeks after arriving in Iraq. She claimed he was promised a job as a chaplain’s assistant although once in the service was placed in a combat role and killed, certainly a moving story – one she exploits to promote venomous anti-Americanism. “George Bush and his neo-conservatives killed my son,” she said tearing up a bit. “America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for.”
Sheehan said she considered Lynne Stewart her Atticus Finch, the lawyer who defended an innocent Black man accused of rape in the book and film “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
“They’re not waging a War on Terror but a War of Terror,” she said. “The biggest terrorist is George W. Bush.” She claimed “it costs $66,000 to recruit one soldier, not including training, and $49,000 a year to house a prisoner, yet only $6,000 per year is spent to educate a child in California. (Recruiting costs are actually $15,000 per soldier, the cost of housing a prisoner in California for one year is $26,000.)
Sheehan continued, “9/11 was Pearl Harbor for the neo-conservatives’ agenda” and declared the U.S. government a “morally repugnant system.” Then she raged:
We have no Constitution. We’re the only country with no checks and balances. We want our country back if we have to impeach George Bush down to the person who picks up the dog sh-t in Washington! Let George Bush send his two little party animals to die in Iraq. It’s OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons but we are waging nuclear war in Iraq, we have contaminated the entire country. It’s not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. Hypocrites! But Israel can occupy Palestine? Stop the slaughter!
While one might dismiss some of Sheehan’s hyperbole due to grief over her son’s death,
a little research about Casey Sheehan revealed that contrary to being tricked by military recruiters, Casey Sheehan had re-enlisted in the U.S. Army voluntarily when he was 24-years-old, after serving his first hitch successfully. Casey Sheehan was in fact a hero who received a Bronze Star. He was attached as a mechanic to the artillery division of the 1st U.S. Cavalry in Iraq. When a convoy of soldiers from Casey’s unit was attacked in Sadr City by insurgents, Casey volunteered to join a rapid rescue force to get them out. His commanding sergeant told him he did not have to go into combat, because he was a mechanic and not an infantryman. Casey was quoted telling his officer, “I go where my chief goes.” He was tragically killed during the rescue attempt. The source for this story? Cindy Sheehan herself.
I also visited an army recruiting office on my way home and asked about Casey being promised a job as a chaplain’s assistant only to be thrust into harm’s way. The recruiter explained to me that on re-enlistment, the Army’s B.E.A.R. program (Bonus Extension and Retaining) guarantees everything in writing. If Casey was a mechanic during his first hitch, that was the only thing he would have been guaranteed per his re-enlistment contract. Further research showed that a chaplain’s assistant is a combat infantry position, whereas Casey was deployed in a non-combat job as a mechanic. Casey Sheehan sought combat duty for his country and should be honored for it, not used as a symbol of how evil the United States is.
The final warm up before Stewart spoke was handled by Jess Mackler from The Defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal Movement. He said, “The Supreme Court has decided that innocence is no defense. Lynne Stewart is charged with conspiring to aid and abet a conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks against unnamed people at unknown places in foreign countries. She didn’t harm anyone is any way.” He also said that Omar Abdel Rahman was an “innocent man,” despite incontrovertible proof of his complicity in the 1993 bombings at the World Trade Center. Mackler called the prosecution of Stewart “the new McCarthyism promoted by the U.S. government” and concluded, “You wonderful people in the ISO will be the best defenders of Lynne and Mumia. We have to make the price of corruption too high to pay.”
Finally, Lynne Stewart rose to speak. A roly-poly grandmother, Stewart doesn’t look the part of a revolutionary and friend to terrorists. But just as her appearance was deceiving, so was her discussion about her case.
Stewart maintained all she did was disseminate some press releases relating to Abdel Rahman, which she claimed was her duty to protect her client. She was neither remorseful nor even willing to admit she made a mistake.
What she didn’t say was that Abdel Rahman, being a well-known cleric and having contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (he was involved in the assassination of Anwar Sadat), was using Lynne Stewart to pass messages to tell his terrorist followers he did not support a ceasefire with Egypt – the very reason the Blind Sheikh was being held incommunicado. He had already refused treatment for his diabetes in prison to inspire militant Islamists overseas to take action to release him before he died. (Stewart claimed the government “refused” him medication.) Nonetheless, she compared what she did with asking for a pair of glasses for a client who is under arrest and cannot read the charges against him or her.
She also never mentioned that the government had not just a few, but hundreds of recordings of her in which she discussed with Abdel Rahman how to rally his followers to return to violence, and a major turning point in her case was when the prosecution played a tape of Osama Bin Laden and his aides discussing the need to “spill blood in the fields of jihad unless Abdel Rahman was released.” Over the years, she advocated violence openly at private meetings of radical groups such as Worker’s World Party
and the Spartacist League. Her slipup was allowing herself to be quoted advocating violence in their newspapers such as the Worker’s Vanguard over several years, all of which was used as evidence against her. She was also taped at later radical leftist meetings telling people that what was getting her convicted was the fact that these groups were writing down what she said.
But Stewart’s final denouement came on the witness stand when her attorney, Michael
Tigar, asked her if she knew Abdel Rahman was writing out fatwas to kill Jews and her reply was that yes, she could not deny this to him because the Blind Sheik said that killing Jews was a good thing. She and Tigar thought the jury would buy their revolutionary zeal as much as the radical types in the ISO at San Francisco State would.
The jury didn’t buy it. Only the academic elite believe her.
Stewart also lashed out at former Attorney General John Ashcroft for “prosecuting a grandmother from Brooklyn,” whimpering, “Why me?” She said she was out on $500,000 bail after being found guilty and was awaiting sentencing from the judge. She was now on a tour of college campuses nationwide to raise money for an appeal and to get people to write the judge and ask for leniency in her case – both of them greatly aided by her appearance at SFSU.
All attendees received a press packet during her appearance containing a copy of Stewart’s keynote speech to the National Lawyer’s Guild convention. Congress once referred to the NLG as “the legal bulwark of the Communist Party”; today, they exemplify the unholy alliance between leftists and Islamists. At their national conference, Stewart referred to the NLG lawyers as “warriors” against the United States government:
We now resume our everyday lives, but we have been charged once again, with, and for, our quests, and like Hippolyta and her Amazons; like David going forth to meet Goliath, like Beowulf the Dragonslayer, like Queen Zenobia, who made war on the Romans, like Sir Galahad seeking the Holy Grail; and modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Che Guevara.
Like those she calls “heroes,” Stewart has blood on her hands. After al-Qaeda conducted a bombing in Bali that killed many people, she was recorded describing this as good news because it meant her client would be released. Some have theorized that the Egypt Air jet that went down over the Atlantic killing all the Egyptian Army soldiers on board around the same time may have been a result of the fatwa she released, although the Egyptian government ruled it an accident.
When time came for questions and answers, she contradicted previous, public statements. According to her own website, one of the individuals that Stewart agreed to pass messages to was Layth Shubuylat (sometimes spelled Laith Shubeialat), a known terrorist in Jordan and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was involved in a failed assassination plot against the King of Jordan. Shubuylat also was involved in the oil for food scandal and is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and an active supporter of Hamas. Shubuylat also spent time in prison with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda leader leading the Insurgents in Iraq who are killing American soldiers. I asked Stewart at SFSU if she was aware of who Shubuylat was. She claimed she never heard the name. When I mentioned Shubuylat’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood, she claimed it was a nonviolent group. (She also claimed she never heard of Iraqi terrorist Zarqawi.) Ironically, just moments later she said she has an excellent memory and never forgets a detail—except Shubuylat’s name on her own website.
At the end of her speech, those who came to support this convicted terrorist-enabler gave her a loud standing ovation. They should have been ashamed of supporting a “grandmother” whose talk of civil rights and legal etiquette was really just a smokescreen for a woman who advocates murder and violence against her political opponents when the cameras and recorders are off.
Stewart requested that people write the judge in her case. Undoubtedly, FrontPage Magazine readers will want to comply with her requests. You may write:
Judge John G. Koeltl
United States District Judge
Southern District of New York
United States Courthouse
500 Pearl StreetNew York, New York 10007