Get a copy of Harvey Kushner's Holy War on the Home Front for only $24.95 from the Frontpage Bookstore.
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Harvey Kushner, a Long Island University professor of Criminal Justice and a federal government counterterrorism adviser. He is the author of Holy War on the Home Front: The Secret Islamic Terror Network in the United States (Penguin 2004).
Photo by Telmo
FP: Dr. Kushner, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Kushner: Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to discuss Holy War. I consider Frontpage a leader in exposing those individuals and groups that pose a threat to the American way of life.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Kushner: Actually, I didn’t want to write Holy War. I was very concerned about some of the people I write about—that is, the good guys. I spend a lot of time talking to people—not just government and military officials, but street cops and probation officers, too. I didn’t want to harm any ongoing investigations. Consequently, all confidential and sensitive documents published in my book have been redacted.
I knew that it was two years after the 9/11 attacks and we were no safer than before the terrorists blasted holes in the New York City skyline. I had the evidence that Government agencies are still sloppy, negligent, or worse. I could show that federal judges were probating illegal aliens who are “known or suspected terrorists” back onto our streets. I knew that federal probation officers can’t report suspicions of terrorist activity from felons they supervise because there’s no one to report it to. I knew that a drug worth billions of dollars a year is being smuggled into the country by a Middle Eastern—African—British network, but no one is investigating it—or its links to terrorism. The USCIS Asylum Offices get applications from Middle Easterners who testify to involvement with terrorism, but they can’t reject them because the FBI won’t return their phone calls.
Don’t believe it? Sorry, but I had the documents to prove it and I had to tell Americans that for all the time and money we’ve spent in the past three years on “security,” Americans are no safer. As I say in the book: “In my thirty years in counterterrorism, I have never been more worried about my country.” That’s why I wrote Holy War. Let the truth be told.
FP: Why do you think there is so much government incompetence in dealing with the threats facing this country?
Kushner: Like the old Tom Lehrer song about the French hating the Germans and the Germans hating the Dutch, and so on—this federal law enforcement agency hates this federal law enforcement agency, this federal intelligence gathering agency hates this federal intelligence gathering agency, and everybody seems to have a problem with a particular federal agency, even local law-enforcement personnel. Like other government agencies, federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies don’t share information and that makes local law enforcement feel like second-class citizens.
Moreover, in some ways 9/11 made a federal agency like the FBI only more self-conscious and protective of their image. The FBI, was always reticent about giving information. After 9/11 whatever came into their possession never left it. I have spoken to many state and local agencies or departments charged with protecting American citizens where they live and work. Almost all report their biggest problem in the War on Terrorism is nobody giving them up-to date information about threats from the Islamic terror network. Most say even three years after 9/11, the FBI and related federal agencies still don’t “download” real-time information to local agencies.
As long as the men and women of local law enforcement are kept in the dark about real-time terrorist data, government incompetence, either real or perceived, will continue.
FP: Can you illuminate for us a bit how the secret Islamic network operates?
Kushner: Near the end of the Spanish Civil War, General Emilio Mola’s army was advancing on Madrid when someone asked him which of his four columns would capture the city. “The fifth column,” he replied, meaning the rebel’s militant supporters inside the capital whose efforts had already undermined it from within. This is exactly the strategy of the secret Islamic network.
Islamic extremists constitute a fifth column—a highly organized underground army whose tentacles reach into our colleges and universities; recruit converts in mosques and prisons; and raise money through bogus Muslim charities and drug running operations—in America. They are committed to the most violent goals of Islamic jihad and united in their belief that God wants them to destroy America completely.
The Islamic secret network’s complicated web of multialphabet acronym organizations and interlocking directorates helps conceal their activities. This is evident through the many Islamic charities raising fungible monies aimed at both charitable and terrorist causes. Muslim anti-discrimination organizations are also created to appear to be the voices of moderate Islam when they are in fact the supporters of Militant Islam.
In contrast, many operatives in the secret network hide by being prominent, so that no one could accuse them of anything, much less investigate them. Consider, for example, the case of Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi, now serving time in a federal penitentiary. Alamoudi’s way of hiding was to be prominent, so that no one could accuse him of anything, much less investigate him. Alamoudi’s invitations to the White House and meetings with President Clinton gave him a lot of influence. He used it to make friends, silence critics, and hide influence-buying into Washington’s most prominent circles.
FP: Tell us how the Left helped fertilize this secret Islamic network operating within our border. And why do you think the Left opposes anti-terrorism tactics such as the USA Patriot Act and ethnic profiling? Some would argue that progressives are naïve, but I would contend there is a much more sinister and malicious objective. How about you?
Kushner: The Left is hard at work lobbying against all anti-terrorism tactics while defending all who would reinvent American history. We are a nation that welcomes all to our shores but we are also a nation that draws our strength from our Judeo-Christian heritage. The Left sees any measure put in place to protect the home front as Xenophobic and discriminatory against Muslim and Arab Americans.
The Left and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argue that anti-terrorism tactics such as the Patriot Act and ethnic profiling take our society down a slippery slope towards constitutional chaos. Nonsense, the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and the aforementioned anti-terrorism tactics are nothing more than prudent protocols designed to protect against an enemy bent on replacing the Constitution with Islamic law.
What the Left fails to understand is that the Patriot Act permits law enforcement to keep up with the bad guys, albeit Militant Islamic terrorists, technologically speaking. For example, roving wiretaps are necessary in an age of cellular phone technology. They were illegal until the Patriot Act. The old laws worked when the cord on the black metal family phone wouldn’t let you move more than a couple of feet. Roving wiretaps are necessary to intercept and track terrorists using satellite phones.
As for profiling, it works. Profiling enabled Israel to keep Richard Reid, who tried to ignite a crude bomb embedded in his sneaker on an American Airlines flight traveling from Paris to Miami, off their airliner.
I advocate profiling because I consider the danger to America posed by terrorists, and the possibility of their using weapons of mass destruction or germ warfare against us, to outweigh all other concerns. Profiling at our airports and borders and in seaports can lessen that threat, and if that’s what it takes to protect us, I will be first in line to be profiled, too.
FP: What is the future of the secret Islamic network? How can we best defeat it?
Kushner: Not to sound alarmist but if we don’t wake up to the threat of Militant Islam we can lose it all. In fact, we are sliding down that slippery slope towards accepting the tactics of the terrorist as a legitimate means of enabling political change. Just visit any number of college campuses where so-called free debate takes the form of some Leftist group stopping ROTC recruitment or some pro Palestinian rally where the speaker shouts, “God is one. Mohammed is our Leader, the Koran is our Constitution. Struggling in the cause of God is our way. Victory to Islam, death to Israel. Revolution, revolution until victory. March, march toward Jerusalem. There is no deity but God. Mohammed is the Messenger of God. God is great. Victory to Islam” (Sami al-Arian, 1988). Today, the climate at universities is nearly always hospitable to critics of U.S. foreign policy but rarely to their opponents. The latter can only safely speak if the audience is searched for weapons.
We are not at war with a variety of terrorist groups operating throughout the world. I don’t defend terrorists or their tactics; a terrorist by any other name is still a terrorist. However, the terrorists that pull triggers, plant bombs, and blast holes in the New York skyline all have the same thing in common—they are part of a militant Islamic collective targeting U.S. assets both here and abroad. I wrote Holy War to drive home the point that we aren’t at war with terrorists of all stripes but with Militant Islam. The latter is a tangible enemy we must defeat. We must also realize that the fight against Militant Islam is not just overseas but here in America.
FP: So tell us specifically what we can do best to fight this war here at home and to destroy the fifth column that yearns for our defeat.
Kushner: The only explanation as to why we continue to ignore the secret Islamic terror network in America is that the demands of political correctness have made us so afraid of being branded racists that we are force ourselves to be color blind, identity blind, and gender blind till we end up, quite simply, totally blind.
The rules changes on 9/11. It was Militant Islam’s signal that from that day on, all weapons of terror, including weapons of mass destruction, could and would be used, an that the fight is to the death. America cannot wait for Militant Islam to secure itself from what will surely be our massive reaction to their next attack.
This is what we have to do: Stop fighting the Holy War with a Cold War mentality; stop our enemy from using our constitutional rights to shield itself; launch a congressional investigation into the $155 billion khat trade in America; make sure that none of the 7 million ocean cargo containers coming to the United States contains a weapon of mass destruction; and hold our elected officials to one simple unambiguous standard—results.
FP: Dr. Kushner, we are out of time, it was a pleasure to speak with you.
Kushner: Again, thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with all who visit Frontpage. It was indeed a pleasure working with Frontpage to protect against Holy War on the Home Front.
Ross Gregory Douthatt
Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin
William F. Buckley Jr.
Richard Perle and David Frum