When my colleagues and I rolled out the Team B II report last week, “Shariah: The Threat to America,” in attendance at the Capitol Hill press conference was ThinkProgress.org blogger and Center for American Progress national security researcher Matt Duss, who unwittingly provided a live example for those present of how utterly clueless the political establishment is when it comes to the threat of Islamic terrorism and the cultural jihad.
During the Q&A, Duss asked which Islamic scholars we had consulted in preparing our report. He later slammed the report in a ThinkProgress post:
So there you have it. A report on the threat posed by Islamic law to the United States, one of whose leaders admits to having started studying Islam only three years ago, whose authors admit consulting with no actual Muslims…
Duss’s complaint is an exercise in question begging. It is precisely the recognized Islamic scholars who are the darlings of groups like the Center for American Progress, who are regularly featured at White House iftar dinners, and who have offered opening invocations before Congress, that are precisely the problem.
In our defense, the most distinguished Quranic scholar in America, who holds a doctorate in Quranic Studies from Al-Azhar University in Cairo – the most authoritative and globally recognized seat of Islamic learning – and who later taught at Aysut branch of Al-Azhar, was unavailable to offer suggestions on our report. That’s because Omar Abdel-Rahman (aka “the Blind Shiekh”) is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison following his 1995 conviction in the New York City “Day of Terror” plot. The Blind Shiekh and his terror crew were prosecuted by our Team B II colleague, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
In light of the Blind Sheikh’s incarcerated status, no doubt Duss would have had us consult the Fiqh Council of North America (FNCA), which bills itself as “Islam’s highest religious authority in North America.” But there too we find a virtual host of convicted terrorists, unindicted co-conspirators and terror cheerleaders:
- FCNA founding trustee Abdurahman Alamoudi is currently serving a 23-year federal prison sentence for his role in a Libyan intelligence plot to assassinate then-Saudi Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah. In July 2005, the Treasury Department identified Alamoudi as atop Al-Qaeda fundraiser, saying that “the September 2003 arrest of Alamoudi was a severe blow to al Qaida, as Alamoudi had a close relationship with al Qaida and had raised money for al Qaida in the United States.” Alamoudi established on behalf of the Department of Defense their Muslim chaplain program, hand-picking the first dozen chaplains commissioned by our armed services, and was designated a good-will ambassador to the Middle East by the U.S. State Department. During the Clinton Administration, he repeatedly met with President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and was the most frequent Islamic leader invited to the White House. He also advised then-presidential candidate George W. Bush during his 2000 campaign.
- Another FCNA founding trustee and former chairman Taha Jaber Al-Awani was named “Unindicted Co-Conspirator #5″ by federal prosecutors in the trial of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Al-Awani wrote a letter to Al-Arian saying that he viewed his organization “as part of and an extension” of Al-Arian’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad front group in Florida. Al-Awani previously served as president of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, an arm of the Saudi Embassy’s religious affairs department and a branch of the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh. But Al-Awani’s institute was raided by the FBI in July 2004 and eventually closed after the State Department revoked the visas of 16 Institute members of Al-Awani’s faculty. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon had accredited Al-Awani’s institute as the sole certifier of DOD Muslim chaplains.
- Current FCNA chairman Muzammil Siddiqi previously served as Chairman of the Department of Religious Affairs at the Muslim World League Office to the United Nations. After the fatwa had been issued condemning author Salman Rushdie to death in 1989, Siddiqi told the Los Angeles Times that he was non-committal on whether the death sentence should be carried out, saying that the matter “would have to be determined in the due process of Islamic law.” As reported by the New Yorker, Siddiqi also dutifully served as translator for the Blind Shiekh just two months before the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as he harangued Siddiqi’s congregation about the necessity of violent jihad. And when questions arose about Siddiqi and his pal Alamoudi following their appearances with President Bush after 9/11, former Secret Service Agent Ron Williams told Fox News “the intelligence Community has known for sometime the association of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, and Mr. Alamoudi and their association with terrorist organizations.”
- Another highly respected Islamic cleric and FCNA member is Mohammad Al-Hanooti, who has the dubious distinction of being named unindicted co-conspirator in both the 1995 Blind Sheikh prosecution and the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. A 2002 investigation by the Albany Times Union stated that several members of the cell that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 attended Al-Hanooti’s mosque, with the mosque’s address being used to rent the truck used in the bombing. In August 1999, he testified on behalf of Al-Qaeda operative Ihad Ali saying that Ali’s refusal to provide information about the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania was authorized by Islamic law that prohibits a Muslim from testifying against another Muslim. A 2001 declassified FBI memorandum identified Al-Hanooti as a major Hamas fundraiser, saying that he had raised $6 million for Hamas in one year alone.
- We could have consulted former FCNA “interfaith moderate” Fawaz Damra, but he wasn’t available either as he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported in January 2007 after his conviction for lying on immigration forms about his ties to terrorism. What prompted the charges against Damra were videotapes of him leading a fundraiser with Sami Al-Arian to benefit Palestinian Islamic Jihad and federal wiretaps of Al-Arian and Damra discussing raising funds for the families of PIJ suicide bombers. Video also emerged of the “interfaith moderate” describing Jews as “the sons of monkeys and pigs.”
(The list continues tomorrow with Part 2.)