As Hillary Clinton struggles to maintain frontrunner status in the Democratic primaries, she’s facing even more important issues. Islamic terrorism is sweeping the globe, yet mainstream media outlets seem reluctant to vet her foreign policy credentials.
In particular, the former Secretary of State isn’t being asked the tough questions about her closest colleague, Huma Abedin, who has links to people and groups the U.S. government says were involved in the funding of terrorism.
This is not a right-wing conspiracy theory.
In speeches during the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton admitted that she and her husband President Bill Clinton learned nearly everything they knew at the time about Islam from their 14-year-old daughter. This seldom publicized admission came when First Lady Hillary Clinton hosted the first dinner at the White House celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan on February, 20th, 1996.
According to the official transcript of her remarks from that that event as posted by the Clinton Presidential Library , she would tell the audience:
Like many Americans, I have only recently gained a full appreciation of Islam. When I was growing up, there were no courses in Islamic history or religion in my schools and the Koran was not on too many bookshelves in American households. Fortunately, that has changed, as I know from my own family experience.
I have to admit that a good deal of what my husband and I have learned has come from my daughter, who some of you who are our friends know took a course last year in Islamic history. When she and I traveled to South Asia, she provided me with a running commentary on everything we saw and visited.
Mrs. Clinton’s “full appreciation of Islam” would come after a number of impossible-to-miss historic events involving Islamists that had shaped the United States. Most Americans in the modern era first became aware of the Islamist threat during the Iranian hostage crisis that began in the Carter administration.
More significantly, two major events involving Islam happened during the early years of the Clinton administration itself, both with long-term consequences: the Bosnian war and the first attack on the World Trade Center. Understanding the threat of Islamist ideology should have been a prerequisite for leadership in the face of those events, but three years into the Clinton administration Hillary Clinton had no problem admitting that both she and the leader of the free world had learned “a good deal” of what they knew about Islam from Chelsea Clinton.
Chelsea Clinton was 14-years-old when she was tutoring the President and First Lady on Islam, having gained her expertise on Islamic ideology in her high school sophomore history class at the elite Sidwell Friends school.
Meanwhile, between 1992 and 1995 the Bosnian war raged on. Muslims in what was formally Yugoslavia managed to build a bridge to Europe that is being used by terrorist groups like ISIS to this very day. Just this week, International Business Times reported that ISIS is buying land in Bosnia to use as a staging area for terrorist incursions in the West:
The groups bought land in the northern region of Bosnia, a few miles from the border with Croatia. While Croatia is not part of the Schengen area – a 26 country zone of the European Union in which people can travel without visa or border checks – it is an easy crossing point into other Schengen countries, such as Hungary and Slovakia. The Salafi community in this region has denied it has connections to Islamic terror groups in Syria.
Bosnia has become an important point of recruitment for terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group, which is based out of Iraq and Syria. Nearly 40 percent of the nation is Muslim, and Bosnian national Husein Bosnic has become a top recruiter for the group in Europe, helping send more than 300 foreign fighters to Syria, according to a report in France 24.
The Origins & Connections of the First White House Ramadan Dinner
That first dinner at the White House celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast known as Eid was put together by the American Muslim Council, or AMC, founded and headed by Abdulrahman Alamoudi.
In 2004, Alamoudi would be described by the Washington Post as “one of America’s best-known Muslim activists” who met “with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials in his efforts to bolster Muslim political prominence.” It wrote that Alamoudi “also helped found the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplain program and was involved in a variety of other Islamic political and charitable organizations.”
That 1996 event was put together by Alamoudi’s assistant director, Khaled Saffouri. In 1998, Saffouri would explain to the Los Angeles Times how the that first White House Eid dinner developed:
The White House celebration of the Eid comes after years of efforts to educate the public about Islam and a specific effort to encourage recognition of Ramadan, said Khaled Saffouri of the American Muslim Council, a Washington-based educational organization.
“The Bush administration was not receptive,” Saffouri said. “They would not return phone calls or answer letters.”
After Saffouri organized an observance in the U.S. Senate in 1996 and personally invited the first lady, her aides asked him to organize a similar event at the White House.
Although hastily planned, that first observance left a deep impression on the Muslim community in the United States and abroad, Saffouri said. The event was widely discussed within Muslim communities nationwide and covered in the foreign press.
“This was the first time the Muslim community was acknowledged by any administration,” Saffouri said. “Muslims felt someone invited them, included them and appreciated them for the first time. It was a historic event for Muslims worldwide.
Although Saffouri and Alamoudi would have an impact in the Clinton White House, they also wanted to have influence with Republicans.
One immediate impact was that Ramadan dinners became a White House tradition that extended through George W. Bush’s administration and have been carried on by Barack Obama.
In 1997, Saffouri— The man who put together the first White House Ramadan dinner event for the Clintons—would cofound the Islamic Free Market Institute with GOP political operative Grover Norquist and Morquist’s brother-in-law, Palestinian activist Majed Tomeh. Norquist was an important influncer on the Republican Party through this anti-tax group lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform and remains so today. Norquist is also the board of the National Rifle Association.
Norquist’s Islamic Free Market Institute, also known as the Islamic Institute, would be funded in part by a $20,000 check from Alamoudi. Another $20,000 came from a man named Jamal Barzinji.
The funding of the Islamic Institute by Barzinji and Alamoudi is well documented was admitted by Norquist in an interview with Glenn Beck in March 2015, where Norquist claimed that Alamoudi’s radicalism was not known at the time:
“He worked with the Pentagon for crying out loud,” Norquist said. “He traveled evidently for USAID or the State Department. … He is somebody who was, at that point, people thought or said he was an OK guy.”
However, anyone paying attention to Alamoudi in 1996 would hear clearly that he had a vision for an America dominated by Islam.
In March 1996, Alamoudi said he was “honored to be a member of the committee that is defending” Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) founder Musa Abu Marzook. As the Israeli business website Globes reported on Marzook in 2014:
“One of those fundraisers was Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, the number 2 man in Hamas,” Elad says. “At the beginning of the 1990s, he began a fundraising campaign in the US among wealthy Muslims, while at the same time founding several banking enterprises. He himself became a conglomerate of 10 financial enterprises giving loans and making financial investments. He’s an amazing financier.”
The US administration ordered Marzook’s arrest in 1995 on charges of supporting terrorism. After he spent two years in a US prison, it was decided to expel him without trial. He kept the money. “When he was expelled from the US in 1997, he was already worth several million dollars,” Elad says, adding, “Somehow he evaded the clutches of the US Internal Revenue Service and was not charged with financing terrorism. People in the know say he probably became connected to the administration and cooperated with it. There is no proof, but it’s hard to think of any other reason why he escaped punishment for such serious offenses. In 2001, in the investigation of the September 11 events, it turned out that he had extensive financial connections with Al Qaeda, including the transfer of funds to the 21 Al Qaeda operatives accused of the attacks.”
Today, Marzook is considered one of Hamas’s wealthiest billionaires. “Arab sources estimate his wealth at $2-3 billion,” Elad says.
In late 1996—the same year that Hillary Clinton hosted his group for the Ramadan at the White Hosue—AMC founder Alamoudi spoke to a conference for the Islamic Association for Palestine held in Chicago.
At that event, Alamoudi said eventually America “will become a Muslim country.”
Alamoudi was emphatic that he was working to create political change in America while leaving open the possibility of violence elsewhere. He told his audience “you can be violent anywhere else but in America.” His speech was recorded and he said:
It will happen, it will happen (unclear word) Allah, I have no doubt in my mind, Muslims sooner or later will be the moral leadership of America. It depends on me and you, either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country. And I (think) if we are outside this country we can say ‘oh, Allah destroy America’, but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it. And the prophet told us that there are three ways of changing things, either by your hand or your mouth or within yourself, and we can change it by our hand and by our mouth, but positively. There is nowhere for Muslims to be violent in America, no where at all. We have other means to do it. You can be violent anywhere else but in America.
In 2000, Amamoudi would openly declared himself as a supporter of terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah at an anti-Israel rally.
In September, 2003, the man whose organization had put together the first White House Ramadan dinner was arrested. As the Washington Post reported in 2004:
A federal judge yesterday sentenced Muslim activist Abdurahman Alamoudi to the maximum 23-year prison term for illegal dealings with Libya that included his involvement in a complex plot to kill the Saudi ruler.
This is a clear victory in the war against terrorism,” said Paul J. McNulty, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria.
Michael Garcia, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the sentence “reflects the seriousness of Alamoudi’s crimes.” He said that during the investigation, agents “tracked suitcases stuffed with cash, unearthed Swiss bank accounts and documented meetings with shadowy figures around the globe.”
Alamoudi has undergone extensive debriefings, and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said yesterday that Alamoudi’s cooperation will aid “critical” terrorism investigations. Government sources have said, for example, that Alamoudi will be asked about the sprawling probe into whether a cluster of Islamic charities, companies and think tanks in Herndon and elsewhere in Northern Virginia financed terrorist organizations
Alamoudi’s connection to that “cluster of Islamic charities, companies and think tanks” in Virginia is also significant because of another figure who would enter the White House in 1996: a young college student fresh from Saudi Arabia named Huma Abedin.
In Part 2 of this story, we’ll look at the influence of Huma Abedin on the Clintons and her connections to Alamoudi and others.