Whipping across the internet last week was a Youtube clip of an angry House Judiciary Committee exchange between Janet Napolitano and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, TX). The Secretary of Homeland Security was being grilled by a boiling mad Gohmert about a certain Mohamed Elibiary on her staff when she dealt the Congressman what in PC Land functions as a knockout blow: “What bothers me, quite frankly, are the allegations made against anyone who happens to be Muslim.” Checkmate!
But this particular tussle is far from finished. Gohmert already had legitimate concerns about the Napolitano-appointed Elibiary, a man who has a history of Islamist radicalism and who took advantage of his DHS security clearance to download classified files. A newly-released documentary will make Napolitano’s appointment even more troubling: Elibiary, it seems, is tied to one of the most radical imams in America (full disclosure: our organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, produced the film).
Napolitano appointed Elibiary in October of 2010 to the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council. On paper, Elibiary seems a PC poster boy for moderate Islam. He founded and headed a Texas-based Muslim civic engagement group called the Freedom and Justice Foundation. According to the DHS, he had advised Texas law enforcement agencies on terrorism and Muslim sensitivities for years. He’s even donated to Republican campaigns!
But last year, Elbiary got caught using his Napolitano-supplied DHS security clearance to download “For Official Use Only” documents from the Texas Department of Public Safety databases he was authorized to access. According to Patrick Poole over at PJ Tatler, Elibiary tried to shop those documents around to journalists in hopes of ginning up “rampant Islamophobia” stories about the Texas state government. In other words, he was trying to embarrass Governor Rick Perry and undermine his presidential campaign.
Gohmert was particularly angry this time around, because he had asked Napolitano last fall about this breech and she promised to look into it and get back. She did not get back to Gohmert; she got back at him: “The statements that have been made in that regard are false, they are misleading and objectionable.” She told Gohmert that Elibiary will not be removed from his position and will not lose his security clearance. “These kinds of insinuations,” she shot back, “demean the committee.”
Questioning the conduct of any Muslim leader in America, it seems, can and will be used – even by government officials tasked to protect us from Islamic terrorism -- to raise questions about YOUR character. This rhetorical device, armed and loaded, aims to silence critics and distract the public from an inconvenient narrative. Were it not an important policy goal of our government, extending back to President Bush, to do everything in our power to prove that we are not an Islamophobic nation, certain items in Elibiary’s past might have lit up the warning system that Napolitano has clearly disarmed.
In December, 2004, for example, Elibiary spoke at a Dallas conference in honor of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. The conference was called “A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary.” When a reporter for the Dallas Morning News brought up this inconvenient fact in 2006, Elibiary told him that he shouldn’t be surprised if he finds a banana in his car’s exhaust pipe. Classy. Homeland Security material for certain.
But youthful tyrant-worship and a passing fruit outburst may pale before Elibiary’s newly discovered, close, long term relationship to one of the most extremist imams in America, Abdulhakim Ali Mohamed. Mohamed calls America the worst country on earth. He claims that Christian teachings about the divinity of Jesus are the biggest lie ever told. He believes that Jews are vicious and Israel is an evil state, and he looks forward to a mass battle between Muslims and Jews, which he says will happen very soon. He tells worshippers that they should seek death and hate life because the earthly world is trash. So why would Mohamed Elibiary, now sitting on the US Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council, hire such an extremist to a top post in his organization?
In 2008, Elibiary brought Abdulhakim onto the board of his Freedom and Justice Foundation (FJF) and appointed him as the head of FJF’s Texas Islamic Council, an umbrella group of Texas mosques and Islamic schools. Through this appointment, Elbiary put Abdulhakim in a position of influence over more than 100,000 Texas Muslims. Abdulhakim was still listed as part of Elibiary’s board in October 2010, the month that Janet Napolitano personally swore him in as a Homeland Security Advisor. Had she properly vetted Elbiary, Abdulhakim’s extremism might have raised more red flags than the Ayatollah and the banana episodes.
In 2008, Abdulhakim had just arrived in Texas from Nashville, Tennessee after suddenly leaving his position as Imam of the Islamic Center of Nashville in 2007. He came to Texas loaded with baggage. In the 1990s, he was Imam of the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn – a target of multiple federal investigations into terror fundraising for Al Qaeda in Yemen. But it is his tenure at the Islamic Center of Nashville – and his possible relationship to an American convert to Islam who murdered an American soldier in Little Rock in the name of Islam -- that should cause the biggest stir.
These are explored in our just-released documentary, Losing Our Sons. The film follows the journey of Carlos Bledsoe from a middle-class Baptist college student in Nashville to committing the first successful Al Qaeda murder on U.S. soil since 9/11 and attempting to murder two Jewish rabbis.
When Carlos arrived in Nashville to study business administration at Tennessee State University, Abdulhakim was teaching classes on Islam at the University through his proselytizing group, Olive Tree Education, which he co-founded in 1999. Olive Tree’s website at the time featured links to sermons by the notorious Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar Al Awlaki. Sermons given by Abdulhakim at Nashville campuses and mosques are replete with hatred toward America, Jews, and Christians, as well as calls for Muslims to become martyrs.
As a sophomore, Carlos converted to Isla and started attending Abdulhakim’s Nashville mosque. He adopted Abdulhakim Mohamed’s name as his own. He was sent to a terrorist training camp in Yemen by Nashville Muslim leaders, where he joined Anwar Al Awlaki’s Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula organization. He came back to the United States and embarked on a spree of jihadist attacks on Jewish and military institutions that culminated in the murder of Private William Andrew Long outside of a Little Rock, Arkansas recruiting station on June 1, 2009.
So now we have a situation where a person like Elibiary, legitimized and empowered by the Department of Homeland Security, is placing Islamic extremists with ties to terror in positions of power and influence over American Muslims. This is hard to understand. Is Secretary Napolitano ignorant or naïve? Perhaps she is following President Obama’s strategy of coopting Islamic radicals by embracing them in the hope of influencing them to moderate their positions.
Regardless of motivation, Napolitano’s behavior goes to the heart of the matter in the current surreal failure of leadership in America’s local and federal governments. Our leaders are simply unwilling to honestly deal with the extremism among much of the Muslim leadership in America and the Middle East. “Losing Our Sons” shows this unwillingness to keep Americans safe in stark detail after stark detail. Denial and political correctness are trumping the need to act against real threats to our society. As Governor Mike Huckabee said after reviewing Losing Our Sons on his show: “I hope -- and I say this with all my heart -- I hope that you will get this documentary "Losing Our Sons." Watch it. Get your friends and your family to see it. It opened my eyes to some things, and I thought I was fairly informed. And it is powerful. It is a gut punch. That's the best way I can describe it.”
If you think Louie Gohmert was angry, just wait until you see this film.
By Charles Jacobs and Ilya Feoktistov, President and Research Director, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (www.peaceandtolerance.org).