Yesterday’s poorly reported National Public Radio Morning Edition story, “Terrorism Training Casts Pall Over Muslim Employee,” demands a fact-check critique. The NPR report alleged that the head of Ohio’s Muslim outreach program Omar al-Omari was wrongly terminated due to a law enforcement briefing on political Islam. We needed to issue several corrections:
NPR Claim #1: “Federal officials familiar with the case say Omari was singled out because he distinguished between extremist Muslims and mainstream Muslims in his outreach and training programs.”
Fact Check #1: Many of the materials Omari had written, including his Guide to Arabic and Islamic Culture, and a brochure titled ‘Agents of Radicalization‘ were slanted towards a pro-radical Islamic view and support a revisionist history which blames America for many of the Middle East’s problems. In the Guide, Omari defines jihad as:
Jihad doesn’t mean holy war, as many people are led to believe. It actually means a struggle to achieve excellence. It’s the struggle Muslims face in life which varies from the Greater Jihad where a person is obliged to struggle within him/herself to overcome evil and establish good, to the Lesser Jihad which is the struggle in daily life. As Muslims are obliged to maximize their potential in order to be the best citizens they can be, jihad is the vehicle that lifts them to the challenge. The term holy war is a European concept that began with the Crusades and was extended to Islam by the West.
In an interview with The Investigative Project on Terrorism, Zuhdi Jasser, Muslim President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy was highly critical of Omari’s publications:
Jasser describes the two publications as “full of factual inaccuracies” including the assertion that 66 percent of American Arabs are Muslim (close to three-fourths are Christian). Alomari also “misses the core problem: political Islam.” Instead, he indulges in “bizarre revisionist history” which “seeks to portray Muslims as victims.”
The United States is engaged in “a war of ideas” with radical Islam. Regarding jihadists, “you would hope that [Alomari] would say that these are corrupt thugs who have hijacked our faith,” Jasser told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. But instead he “describes [terrorism] as a response to what the West has done.”
The material Alomari’s agency is putting out is “classic Islamist propaganda” which suggests that “these thugs who kill people in restaurants and shopping malls will stop if we solve the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Jasser said. “In fact, they’ll find another grievance in a year or two.”
The brochure “Agents of Radicalization,” was printed but then copies were destroyed because Omari had listed as “organizations we are working with” a list that included numerous unindicted co-conspirators from the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial: “Some of the organizations we are working with,” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA) Muslim American Society (MAS) Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Muslim Student Association (MSA).” Many of these groups were listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, US vs Holy Land Foundation.
Omari’s brochure on radicalization was never distributed, according to a source within the Department:
Thousands of copies were printed up by the department (at taxpayer expense, of course). Some copies had been provided to some of our partner agencies. As boxes of these things were getting ready to be shipped out, our director was contacted by some counter-terrorism officials and told that the brochure was promoting groups that the FBI and other agencies were trying to distance themselves from (like CAIR).
According to a report by counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole, Ten Failures of the U.S. Government on the Domestic Islamist Threat,
“When [Omari] organized a forum on “interfaith dialogue” for the department in August 2009, the two lone Muslim representatives included a local imam, Hany Saqr, who was identified in the Holy Land Foundation trial as one of the top Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the nation; and CAIR-Ohio president Asma Mobin-Uddin.”
NPR Claim #2: “Omari lost his job with the state of Ohio, though not because of claims that he had ties to terrorism…his employment application was incomplete. He hadn’t listed all of the schools where he had worked before taking the job with the state of Ohio.”
Fact Check #2: Omari was fired not only for failing to list his prior employment at Columbus State Community College, “where he was fired after an improper consensual sexual affair with a student,” according to the Columbus Dispatch newspaper but also for failing to disclose his prior work for the Jordanian Minister of Labor and for lying to investigators, also reported by FOX News and first published at the online investigative journalism website My Pet Jawa.
According to reports, Omari sued the female student who had reported his illicit activities as sexual harassment to higher-ups, claiming the woman had defamed him. He lost.
Omari is now currently suing the state of Ohio for wrongful termination, as well as other alleged discriminations he suffered while working as the Multicultural Relations Officer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
NPR Claim #3: According to the NPR story on the mid-April 2010 training session, “Deputy Chief Jeffrey Blackwell of the Columbus Division of Police stated about Omari that “I knew him really well … And I thought he was a great professional, so that was part of the reason why I was so surprised when his picture popped up in the presentation.”
Fact Check #3: Omari’s highly Islamist-influenced brochure (the one that had to be destroyed) and guide had been widely publicized after he testified to Congress on March 17 and was widely criticized – one month PRIOR to the mid-April law enforcement training session, where the trainers discussed the content of the Omari publications with the attendees. The facts raised by the trainers about Omari’s publications were not in dispute when published in March or presented by trainers in April. According to participants the trainers had been invited to brief by the Columbus Police Department, and far from being “suspended,” the training continued through to the end of the planned session. The entire course of instruction was completed.
This information was available to National Public Radio by simply Googling Omari’s name, but NPR’s story was not an exercise in journalism. They’re in the whitewashing business for Islamist supporters like Omari.
Congress, on the other hand, is in the spending reduction business these days. Exactly one year after the public exposure of Omari began, on March 17, 2011, the House of Representatives voted to stop federal funding for National Public Radio. The vote was 228 to 192. Not even close.