Skip to comments.A Disturbing Event: The American Conservative Union Embraces an Islamist
Posted on 08/27/2012 2:47:34 PM PDT by bayouranger
The conservative movement appears to be at a crossroads in its approach to the threat of Islamic supremacismnot only abroad but at home. Does the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as the dominant force of the "Arab Spring" bode ill for America? Or is the Brotherhood merely another "political actor" as the Obama administration would have us believe? Is Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, a potential security risk worth investigating, as Representative Michele Bachmann and four conservative congressmen have suggested? Or is the mere raising of this question a witch-hunt, as Senator John McCain and Speaker John Boehner and numerous Democrats maintain?
A few months ago, these questions reached another flashpoint in an unlikely setting. The incident took place at an irregular board meeting of the American Conservative Union, an organization usually intent on keeping wobbly Republicans honest. The rump group in attendance several key board members told Frontpage they were not even aware the meeting had been called voted "unanimously" to dismiss long-standing accusations against two ACU board members. The accusations had been made by Center for Security Policy head, Frank Gaffney. Their focus was on the activities of Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, two prominent ACU board members, whom Gaffney claims are influential agents of Islamist agendas. The ACU's dismissal of Gaffney's claims was contained in a memo written by attorney Cleta Mitchell, who called them "reprehensible" terms no less damning than McCain's slap down of Michele Bachmann.
Frank Gaffney is a former defense official in the Reagan administration and first made these claims public in 2003 in an article, "A Troubling Influence," which was published on this site. In introducing the article, Frontpage editor David Horowitz acknowledged that Norquist had played an important role in the conservative movement, but also described Gaffney's claims as "the most disturbing that we at frontpagemag.com have ever published." He further characterized them as "the most complete documentation extant of Grover Norquist's activities in behalf of the Islamist Fifth Column."
The Frontpage article documented Norquist's links to supporters of Hamas and other Islamist organizations dedicated to "destroying the American civilization from within" in the words of a Muslim Brotherhood document. These figures included Abdurahman Alamoudiwho is currently serving a lengthy sentence for his involvement in a terrorist plotand Sami Al-Arian, who was the finance head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organization responsible for over a hundred suicide bombings in the Middle East. Before Alamoudi and Al-Arian were arrested, Norquist and Khan served as key facilitators between them and the Bush White House. Now that both have been convicted of terrorist activities, there can no longer be any doubt that they were working on behalf of America's terrorist enemies.
Among the Norquist-sponsored initiatives furthering the Islamist agenda, according to Gaffney, was his effort to abolish the use of classified national defense intelligence evidence in terrorism cases. Islamist organizations and Norquist himself typically refer to this as "secret" evidence and suggest that the use of it offends the Constitution. But as former U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy explains, the cases in which it is normally used are immigration proceedings, not criminal prosecutions. Unlike American citizens, aliens do not have the right to be in the United States in the first place, and should not be able to force disclosure of the nation's defense secrets as the price tag for demanding that they leave. Sami Al-Arian was the prime-mover of the "secret evidence" campaign, which he launched to protect his brother-in-law, a member of his terror network, from a pending deportation.
In addition, Gaffney charges, Norquist used his own organization, Americans for Tax Reform, to circulate and promote a letter from Republican Muslims attacking conservatives opposed to the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque." He also campaigned to protect the Iranian regime from sanctions, from its domestic opposition, and from military action against its nuclear programall the while demanding draconian cuts in U.S. defense spending.
The other subject of Gaffney's concerns is Suhail Khan, a Norquist protégé with longstanding personal and professional ties to a variety of Islamist movements. Khan's father, the late Mahboob Khan, was a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the founders, in the 1960s, of the Muslim Students Association, the cornerstone of the Brotherhood's American infrastructure. As Daniel Greenfield documents in his pamphlet, Muslim Hate Groups on Campus, the Muslim Students Association has been instrumental in indoctrinating young Muslims in Islamist ideology, and has an alarming legacy of senior membersAnwar Awlaki most prominent among themgraduating to positions of prominence in al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks. In the 1980s, Mahboob Khan was instrumental in creating an MSA spinoff, the Islamic Society of North America or ISNA. ISNA became so deeply enmeshed in the funding of Hamas that it was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation. [For more information on how the Muslim Brotherhood has targeted the United States for subversion, see Robert Spencer's pamphlet, Muslim Brotherhood in America.]
Suhail Khan's mother, Malika Khan, was a close partner in her late husband's work, and is a long-time leader of another Brotherhood front, the Council on American Islamic Relations(CAIR), which was created out of the Brotherhood's Hamas-support network. Its parent organization was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial. Malika Khan currently serves on the Executive Committee of CAIR's San Francisco chapter, which distinguished itself in 2011 by promoting a conference that urged Muslims not to co-operate with FBI investigations.
These familial activities are not incidental because Suhail has publicly embraced his parents' "legacy," and done so before Brotherhood audiences. Despite this background and thanks to Grover Norquist's patronage, Suhail was able to gain access to the Bush 2000 campaign, and was then appointed to a position in the Bush administration. According to Gaffney, while working at the White House, Khan helped craft and disseminate deceptive notions such as "Islam means peace," al-Qaeda "hijacked" Islam, and jihad is only a "personal struggle," never a holy war against infidels.
In 2001, Khan appeared on a platform with about-to-be-convicted terrorist and top Muslim Brotherhood figure, Abdurahman Alamoudi. The setting was an American Muslim Council conference in Washington. Alamoudi is the founder of the Council, and once explained to a Brotherhood audience: "I think, if we are outside this country, we can say 'O Allah, destroy America.' But once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it ."
A video tape of the 2001 event shows Alamoudi heaping praise on Suhail and his father (see here from 5:38 on). At the time, Khan was serving as the Muslim gatekeeper in the White House Office of Public Liaison, a role he used to afford access to Muslim Brotherhood guests. Introducing him, Alamoudi expressed the hope that Khan was preparing for higher office:
We have with us a dear brother, a pioneer, somebody who really started political activism in the Muslim community . When it was a taboo for the Muslim community, no doubt about it. When Suhail Khan started not too many people were aware that we had to do something . Some of you saw him today in the White House, but inshallah soon you will see him in better places in the White House, inshallah. Maybe sometime as vice-president soon, inshallah. Allahu Akbar!
The terrorist, Alamoudi, also had praise for Suhail's father:
Suhail Khan is the son of a dear, dear brother who was a pioneer of Islam work himself. Many of you know his late father who was part of all kinds of work Suhail inherited from his father not only being a Muslim and a Muslim activist, but also being a Muslim political activist. [emphasis added]
After effusively thanking Alamoudi for these words, Suhail said: "Many of you, of course, knew my father. He was someone who dedicated his life to the community and I've always felt that I have to work in the samethose footsteps."
The footsteps of Mahboob Khan have been traced to some un-reassuring places. Shortly after 9/11, the Washington Post reported that Mahboob Khan had played host to Ayman Zawahiri, then second in command to Osama bin Laden, who had entered the U.S. in the mid-nineties to obtain funds and recruits for al-Qaeda. One of his stops was at the al-Noor Mosque in California, a mosque founded by Mahboob Khan.
After 9/11, Suhail Khan had to give up his role at the White House as a result of the fallout from his Brotherhood associations. Yet with the support of Norquist, he managed to land on his feet and was given a political appointment in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation.
Aside from Khan's multiple Islamist connections, Gaffney charges he has also been actively engaged in agendas championed by the Brotherhood, including trying to undo the statute making material support for terror a crime. That law was put into place in part because large sums of zakatIslamic "charity" monies were regularly going to fund the terrorist activities of Hamas and al-Qaeda.
Is there validity, then, to Gaffney's charges? In discussing Gaffney's original article, David Horowitz told me:
What disturbed me mostand ultimately persuaded me that Frank was on to somethingwas the fact that Grover didn't respond to Gaffney's charges although I invited him to do so in Frontpage. Then when I caught up with Grover at a CPAC conference, and said he really needed to answer the charges, he brushed me off saying he didn't have timehe was "too busy with the revolution," were the words he used, a reference to his conservative crusades. Then I spoke to Suhail, who had called me to complain about the claims Frank had made about his father. In this conversation, Suhail flat out denied them, saying his father was only a member of the mosque rather than its founder, and that he couldn't remember an event with Zawahiri. When I asked Frank for his sources for these claims, he sent me the Washington Post article, which described Mahboob Khan's role in founding the mosque and hosting Zawahiri. I sent this to Suhail for a reply, but never heard from him again. That made me realize there was something to be concerned about.
Khan was not so reticentor in such denialabout his father's Muslim Brotherhood activities when he appeared before audiences of the faithful, however. At a 1999 conference of the Islamic Society of North America, Suhail told those in attendance:
It is a special honor for me to be here before you today because I am always reminded of the legacy of my father, Dr. Mahboob Khan, an early founder of the Muslim Students Association in the mid-nineties and an active member of the organization through its growth and development in the Islamic Society of North America.
Despite these disturbing manifestations of Khan's allegiances, Norquist sponsored Suhail to become a member of the board of the American Conservative Union in 2010. At this point, Gaffney's concerns intensified. With Grover's help, the Muslim Brotherhood was infiltrating the very heart of the conservative movement. By this time, however, Gaffney's access to the ACU's audiences was restricted. Because of his charges against Norquist, a very powerful member of the ACU Board, Gaffney had long since been barred from speaking at its annual CPAC gathering. But Horowitz, who was not a Washington insider like Gaffney, was a different story, and he was invited to keynote the 2011 CPAC conference. Horowitz used the occasion to address the issues raised by Norquist's activities and Khan's presence on the ACU Board, and to put them in historical context:
Over the last ten years, the influence of the Brotherhood has spread throughout our government. There is nothing new in this sad reality. In 1938, Whittaker Chambers attempted to warn President Roosevelt that one of his White House advisers, Alger Hiss, was a Soviet agent. When Roosevelt was given Chambers' information, he laughed and disregarded it. Alger Hiss remained as the president's adviser until the House Un-American Activities Committee flushed him out .
Frank Gaffney has been the courageous bringer of the bad news about Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan to the board of the American Conservative Union. Many good conservatives on the board have refused to believe the evidence of Suhail Khan's Brotherhood allegiances and agendas. They are of the opinion that Suhail's public appearances with Alamoudi and the Muslim Brotherhood fronts took place a decade ago, and that he doesn't promote violent agendas. I understand this. My parents were Communists in the heyday of Stalin. The Party's slogan was not "Bring on the dictatorship of the Proletariat" or "Revolution Now." But that is what they believed. The slogan of the Communist Party was "Peace, Jobs and Democracy."
The ACU's response to Horowitz's remarks was to withdraw his invitation to speak at CPAC events, although he had been a regular speaker over many years.
Earlier this year, Gaffney and his organization put together a ten-part video course called "The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within." Featured in the course were the roles played by Norquist (Parts 3-7) and Khan (Part 4) in promoting and enabling Brotherhood influence operations. The Khan segment includes a clip (starting at 4:28) from the speech that Khan gave at a 1999 ISNA conference. In the speech, Khan embraces the well-known Muslim Brotherhood ethos:
The earliest defenders of Islam would defend [against] their more numerous and better equipped oppressors, because the early Muslims loved deathdying for the sake of Allah Almightymore than the oppressors of Muslims love life. This must be the case when we are fighting life's other battles [i.e., politics]. What are our oppressors going to do with people like us? We are prepared to give our lives for the cause of Islam. I have pledged my life's work, inspired by my dear father's shining legacy, and inspired further by my mother's loving protection and support, to work for the umma.
This is classic jihadist rhetoric. ("We love death, the U.S. loves life; that is the big difference between us," explained Osama bin Laden in one of his fatwas.) In effect, Khan praised history's earliest jihadists, portraying them as "defenders" and their victims as "oppressors," just as al-Qaeda does in its present-day fatwas. Khan used the same language that glorifies "martyrdom" (or suicide-attacks) on behalf of Islam. ("Death in the service of Allah is our highest aspiration" is part of the Muslim Brotherhood motto.) Khan then praised his father's Muslim Brotherhood "legacy," and pledged his life's work to the Muslim umma, which translated means the "Islamic nation."
Are these remarks merely a "youthful" indiscretion? Horowitz, whose biography makes him something of an authority on second thoughts, answered the question during his keynote address at the 2011 CPAC event:
As for the question of whether Suhail Khan believes now what he openly said then, my answer is this: When an honest person has been a member of a destructive movement and leaves it, he will feel compelled to repudiate it publicly and to warn others of the dangers it poses. This is a sure test of whether someone has left the Muslim Brotherhood or not.
Suhail Khan has never repudiated his father's Muslim Brotherhood legacy or the patronage of the convicted terrorist, Abdurahman Alamoudi. Nor has he disavowed his praise for Islamic martyrdom, nor has he taken steps to warn his fellow Americans of the Islamist threat posed by his past and present associates (part 4 of Gaffney's videos documents Khan's continuing involvement with Mohamed Magid, Muzammil Siddiqi, Nihad Awad and other top Muslim Brotherhood figures and organizations.) Instead, he has denied that the Muslim Brotherhood even operates in America.
On September 21, 2011, the ACU finally took up the issue of Gaffney's charges. The occasion was an unusual meeting of the ACU board, which normally meets only twice a yearin Washington and via teleconference. This particular meeting took place in Orlando, Florida, where an ACU event was being held. Because of the unusual venue, far away from ACU headquarters, most of the ACU board members did not attend, including several whom Frontpage talked to who had not been informed of the meeting and who were not in sympathy with its result. When the rump board met, they voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that dismissed Gaffney's charges out of hand, and declared their "complete confidence in the loyalty of Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist to the United States," and "welcome[d] their continued participation in the work of ACU and of the American conservative movement." In adopting this resolution, the board members also declared that they "profoundly regret and reject as unwarranted the past and on-going attacks upon their patriotism and character."
In making its decision, the board appears to have relied entirely on a memorandum provided by one of its members, Cleta Mitchell, a well-known and widely admired conservative lawyer. Despite the sweeping conclusions of her memorandum, Mitchell addressed the specifics of only one of Gaffney's many findings, while categorically dismissing them all, asserting that: "There is absolutely nothing contained in any of the materials [presented by Gaffney] that in any way linked Suhail (or Grover) to such ["Muslim extremist"] organizations or their activities."
The one specific that Mitchell took issue with was an unlikely one given her categorical statement. This was the video of Khan's 1999 address to the Islamic Society of North America featured in Gaffney's video course. ISNA is the principal Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States; it was founded by Suhail Khan's own parents; and it was before this audience that Khan spoke in the ritualistic language of the Muslim Brotherhood about how Muslim warriors love death more than their opponents love life, about his devotion to the Muslim nation, and his readiness to die for Allah. Mitchell dismissed his comments in these words: "Yet, even in that speech, there is nothing that suggests Suhail is unpatriotic or subversive. The clip from the speech is simply (in my view) rhetoric that is, quite frankly, meaningless in terms of substantiating any of Mr. Gaffney's allegations."
But is it meaningless to paraphrase the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood to a meeting of the most important Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States, and embrace it as one's own aspiration?
Mitchell rests her case against Gaffney and in behalf of Khan on a single point: "Suhail was subject to FBI background checks and cleared to work directly for the President and Vice-President? How would the FBI have 'missed' ties to such groups if those ties existed?"
In fact, as Gaffney observesunder the right circumstances, and with the right sponsorsit would have overlooked them quite easily: "The fact that Suhail Khan received a security clearance during his time in government is an indictment of the clearance process, not evidence that his background is problem-free: Ali MohammadOsama bin Laden's 'first trainer' and longtime al-Qaeda operativealso went through a background check and received a security clearance to work with the federal government. Major Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood killer, not only obtained a clearance, he was even promoted from captain to major despite his monitored communications with al-Qaeda leader Anwar Awlaki, and the fact that in the course of his military education, he announced during a lecture that it was the duty of Muslims under Sharia to kill infidels preparing to attack other Muslims (i.e., U.S. soldiers awaiting deployment to Afghanistan)."
Horowitz agrees. He points to the fact that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, has a top security clearance, notwithstanding the undisputed fact that her closest family members have been Muslim Brotherhood leaders and that for twelve years prior to being hired by the State Department, she worked for an Islamist organization founded and run by Abdullah Omar Naseef, a top funder of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network, and a Muslim Brotherhood eminence.
Given these well-known facts, Khan's security clearance seems a pretty thin reed on which to base so sweeping a dismissal of Gaffney's concerns, let alone refer to them as "reprehensible." To understand her position better, I tried to interview Mitchell, but she declined to comment, saying by email "I am precluded from talking to anyone about this because of the confidentiality provisions of the boards on which I serve which have been dealing with Frank Gaffney issues."
That confidentiality, however, had been already breached when someone on the ACU board leaked the details of its Orlando meeting and the contents of Mitchell's letterand leaked them not to conservatives but to the left-wing organization "ThinkProgress." One of the things I wanted to ask Mitchell was how she thought this letter might have been leaked and by whom (Norquist? Khan?). Accompanying ThinkProgress's release of the Mitchell letter was this summary on its website of what had transpired:
Gaffney was unanimously condemned by the one of the most powerful conservative organizations in America, as two documents obtained exclusively by ThinkProgress this week show. Last September, the board of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which puts on CPAC and includes top leaders of various factions of the conservative movement, unanimously passed a resolution (read it here) condemning the "false and unfounded" attacks Gaffney had made against Norquist and Khan, both board members, after having another board member, Cleta Mitchell, look into Gaffney's serious charges of sedition and abetting an enemy. In a letter to the ACU board (read it here), Mitchell, a prominent and very conservative attorney, said that after reviewing the "evidence" Gaffney presented (including a lengthy PowerPoint presentation and DVDs video laying out the case against Norquist and Khan), she found his "ceaseless war" to be "reprehensible."
Another issue I wanted to ask Mitchell about was what she thought of the fact that her sweeping memo along with the leak had given powerful ammunition to the Brotherhood and its agents in their campaign to silence critics of Islamism. ThinkProgress had previously published a "report" on "Islamophobia" (following an earlier one by CAIR on the same subject). As David Horowitz and Robert Spencer demonstrate in their pamphlet, Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future, Islamophobia is a term actually invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to silence its critics. The ThinkProgress report on Islamophobia attacked a dozen leading conservative critics of the Islamic jihad (also singled out by CAIR), including Frank Gaffney, as "bigots" and "racists." Future editions of the report and future left-wing attacks will undoubtedly draw on the testimony of ACU board.
When asked about these events, Gaffney noted the irregular nature of the board meeting that condemned him, and deplored its lack of due-diligence that led to its categorical dismissal of the readily available evidence. He stated:
By acting solely on the basis of Mitchell's defamatory and superficial memorandum, and then through the deliberate leak to a Soros-funded leftwing organization, the leadership of the American Conservative Union has discredited itself and given ammunition to those who want to prevent legitimate inquiries into Islamist influences in Washington.
This seems a more than reasonable concern. Since many prominent ACU board members were not present to conduct this auto-da-fé, there appears to be ample basis for it to seek a second opinion in regard to the case of Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan. Should it fail to do so, the ACU board will simply reinforce suspicions that it has been successfully infiltrated and subjected to an influence operation by those opposed to everything for which the conservative movement stands.
"Norquists Islamic Institute was funded by Al-Qaeda organizations raided by the U.S. Customs Service in Operation Greenquest."
“Norquist, whose wife was born into a Muslim family”
I’ve never been able to figure out how Norquist managed to become such a prominent voice in the conservative movement considering his personnel associations and what he has said. Stuff like how the Republicans should encourage Muslim immigration as they’re perfect Republican voters.
I recently read an article about how a Qatar and Kuwaiti group is investing in building a major project in downtown Washington, DC. There were interesting questions about how they were going to deal with having various kinds of potentially “haram” businesses there. I am going to look for the article tonight, and post some more.
I saw the headline and the first thing that came to mind was “Norquist”. That’s all I needed to see.
Grover Norquist is no conservative. If he’s even an American or a westerner.
Here’s a list of their board members. I wonder what Ambassador Bolton and Carly Fiorina would have to say about the goings on.
Representatives from the Heritage Foundation and Human Events there too.
THE UNITED WEST-SEMINAR JULY 24, 2012 - THE FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD SESSION
The American West, a group led by Tom Trento, held a seminar on the threat to the United States by Islamists, specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood, with a series of sessions led by Tom Trento and John Guandolo, former Marine and FBI Agent of 12 years.
This is an excellent series. This video is approximately 2 hours long. There are two more videos to follow. COPY this video and distribute it to all your church members, friends and family.
The United West Tom Trento John Guandolo Islam Islamists Ikwahn Ikhwan Muslim Brotherhood Al Qaeda Obama Bush terrorism terror Taliban Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Egypt Libya Holy Land Israel
Andrew McCarthy on the Muslim Brotherhood and huma Abadin and hillary
The sister in-law of Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of England, Lauren Booth, is now a Muslim and here she is at a Mosque in California:
Grover Norquist’s Strange Alliance With Radical Islam
The New Republic ^ | November 11, 2001 | Franklin Foer
GROVER NORQUIST’S STRANGE ALLIANCE WITH RADICAL ISLAM.
by Franklin Foer
Post date 11.01.01 | Issue date 11.12.01
On the afternoon of September 26, George W. Bush gathered 15 prominent Muslim- and Arab-Americans at the White House. With cameras rolling, the president proclaimed that “the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good.” It was a critically important moment, a statement to the world that America’s Muslim leaders unambiguously reject the terror committed in Islam’s name.
Unfortunately, many of the leaders present hadn’t unambiguously rejected it. To the president’s left sat Dr. Yahya Basha, president of the American Muslim Council, an organization whose leaders have repeatedly called Hamas “freedom fighters.” Also in attendance was Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who on the afternoon of September 11 told a Los Angeles public radio audience that “we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list.” And sitting right next to President Bush was Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Islamic Society of North America, who last fall told a Washington crowd chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans, “America has to learn if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come.” Days later, after a conservative activist confronted Karl Rove with dossiers about some of Bush’s new friends, Rove replied, according to the activist, “I wish I had known before the event took place.”
If the administration was caught unaware, it may be because they placed their trust in one of the right’s most influential activists: Grover Norquist. As president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist is best known for his tireless crusades against big government. But one of Norquist’s lesser-known projects over the last few years has been bringing American Muslims into the Republican Party. And, as he usually does, Norquist has succeeded. According to several sources, Norquist helped orchestrate various post-September 11 events that brought together Muslim leaders and administration officials. “He worked with Muslim leaders to engineer [Bush]’s prominent visit to the Mosque,” says the Arab-American pollster John Zogby, referring to the president’s September 17 trip to the Islamic Center of Washington. Says Zogby, who counts Norquist among his clients, “Absolutely, he’s central to the White House outreach.” Indeed, when Jewish activists and terrorism experts complained about the Muslim invitees to Adam Goldman, who works in the White House public liaison’s office, Goldman replied that Norquist had vouched for them. (Goldman denies this, but two separate sources say they heard him say it.) “Just like [administration officials] ask my advice on inviting religious figures to the White House,” says Paul Weyrich, another top conservative activist, “they rely on Grover’s help [with Muslims].”
Norquist denies being involved in “micromanaging the specifics” of White House meetings, but admits “I have been a long time advocate of outreach to the Muslim community.” In fact, the record suggests that he has spent quite a lot of time promoting people openly sympathetic to Islamist terrorists. And it’s starting to cause him problems. Weyrich, echoing other movement conservatives, says he is “not pleased” with Norquist’s activity. According to one intelligence official who recently left the government, a number of counterterrorism agents at the FBI and CIA are “pissed as hell about the situation [in the White House] and pissed as hell about Grover.” They should be. While nobody suggests that Norquist himself is soft on terrorism, his lobbying has helped provide radical Islamic groups—and their causes—a degree of legitimacy and access they assuredly do not deserve.
Norquist is one of the undisputed masters of Republican coalition building. And so it is no surprise that he has turned his attention to America’s fast-growing Muslim population, which by some accounts now stands at seven million strong. (Although two other recent reports suggest it is less than three million.) “He’s worked with [Rabbi Daniel] Lapin to bring Jews into the fold,” says one Norquist associate. “That was an uphill effort. So he figured that he could turn Muslims into the obvious counterweight to the relationship between the Jews and Dems.” In the last few years, Norquist has pursued a Republican-Muslim alliance with a two-track approach. With conservatives, he has emphasized that Muslims are a good demographic fit for the GOP: well-off and socially conservative. “American Muslims look like members of the Christian Coalition,” he wrote in The American Spectator this summer. To Muslims, he has promised a sympathetic hearing for their causes. He has pushed Republican leaders to support a prohibition on the government’s use of “secret evidence” in the deportation of suspected terrorists—an issue that jibes with Norquist’s own anti-government agenda. And he has intimated that Muslim support for Republicans could change U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Appearing on a panel at a 1999 meeting of the American Muslim Alliance, alongside activists who complained about the “Zionist lobby” and Jewish “monopolizing” of Jerusalem, Norquist announced that “[t]oo many American politicians have been able to take their shots at Muslims and at Muslims countries.”
orquist has not undertaken this crusade alone. In the mid-1990s, he enlisted a partner, Khaled Saffuri, then working as a lobbyist and deputy director for the American Muslim Council (AMC). After receiving a master’s in management science, Saffuri came to Washington in 1987 and worked his way up through the city’s Arab-Muslim political apparatus, starting with a stint at the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In 1998 he left the AMC to help Norquist found the Islamic Institute, an advocacy organization dedicated to promoting a conservative agenda that would appeal to Muslims. Saffuri served as executive director and Norquist as chairman of the board.
The Institute operated out of the headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform, from which it borrowed not just a fax machine and conference room, but an agenda. Soon the Institute was shilling for all of Norquist’s pet issues—a moratorium on Internet taxation, fast-track trade negotiation authority, and personal savings accounts. It even published a paper on the Koran’s compatibility with capitalism. “People should remember that Mohammed and his wife were businessmen,” Norquist notes. With the help of Saffuri, who brought ties to a vast network of activists, the Islamic Institute became a nerve center for Muslim lobbying in Washington. As Norquist puts it, “They gather at the Islamic Institute to plan and debrief, when they have meetings [with administration officials].”
Through the Islamic Institute, Norquist appears to have developed close relationships with a number of Muslim leaders. When I recently spoke to the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Salam Al-Marayati, the man who fingered Israel as a potential sponsor of the World Trade Center attacks, he recited Norquist’s phone number from memory. When University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian e-mailed The Wall Street Journal in response to an op-ed that tied him to Islamic Jihad, he CC’d Norquist. Last year at its annual dinner, the AMC presented Norquist with an award for his service. As John Zogby told me, “[H]e’s played the role of interlocutor. With all respect, many of the leaders are immigrants and don’t have years and years of experience. Grover has filled that void.”
And he has done so to their mutual political benefit. During the 2000 campaign, Norquist urged Karl Rove to focus on the Muslim vote—pointing to, among other things, the thousands of Muslims in the key state of Michigan. By all appearances, the Bush campaign heeded Norquist’s advice. In an admirable departure from the usual Republican script, Bush frequently integrated mosques into his platitudes about churches and synagogues. In the second presidential debate, Bush vowed to repeal the use of secret evidence, just as Norquist had promised. Bush even named Saffuri as the campaign’s National Advisor on Arab and Muslim Affairs.
When Bush won, Norquist credited the Muslim strategy. “Bush’s talk about outreach and inclusion had extraordinary results—the Muslim community went 2-1 for Bill Clinton in 1996 and almost 8-1 for Bush in 2000,” he told The Washington Times. (That statistic is almost certainly untrue, and Bush actually lost Michigan, the state where Muslims are most heavily concentrated.) Or, as Norquist put it in the Spectator, “George W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote.”
Norquist quickly set about turning that supposed electoral influence into legislative influence. One day after Bush’s inauguration, he and Saffuri arranged for Muslim leaders to meet Newt Gingrich and Congressman Tom Davis, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Soon Saffuri began regularly appearing at the White House, accompanying imams and heads of Islamic organizations to discuss the faith-based initiative and concerns about law enforcement persecution of Muslims. Suhail Khan, an administration adviser who helps plan Muslim outreach, once served on the Islamic Institute’s board. And at one of his regular Wednesday meetings, according to two witnesses, Norquist announced that he had lobbied to get Khan his White House post. On the afternoon of September 11, a group of Muslim leaders happened to have plans to meet the president in the West Wing to discuss their grievances with racial profiling and secret evidence. When they couldn’t enter the building, along with almost everyone else, they headed a few blocks uptown and reconvened—in the conference room of Norquist’s office.
ut the events of September 11 have cast some of Norquist’s relationships in a less flattering light. Consider first the history and recent statements of the American Muslim Council, the organization that presented Norquist with an achievement award, and whose officials attend Norquist-arranged meetings with the Republican hierarchy. In the 1990s it co-sponsored two conferences with the United Association for Studies and Research, which, according to The New York Times, a convicted Hamas operative named Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Salah in 1993 called “the political command” of Hamas in the United States. At a Washington rally last year, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Saffuri’s boss at the AMC, declared, “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody support Hamas here?...Hear that, Bill Clinton? We are all supporters of Hamas. I wished they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah.” In press releases and forums, the AMC has defended the terrorist-harboring Sudanese government against charges that it massively violates human rights and condones slavery. As late as June of this year, the AMC put out a press release entitled “SLAVERY IN SUDAN IS A SHAM..”
The record of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—which, like the AMC, sends members to meetings organized by Norquist and Saffuri—is no more encouraging. When interviewed by Salon’s Jake Tapper on September 26, CAIR Communication Director Ibrahim Hooper refused to condemn Osama bin Laden. CAIR founder Nihad Awad, who appeared with Bush at the Washington Islamic Center, has argued that “[t]here is ample evidence indicating that both the Mossad and the Egyptian Intelligence played a role in the [1993 World Trade Center] explosion.” And Siraj Wahaj, who has served as a CAIR board member, has been described by federal prosecutor Mary Jo White as a possible conspirator in the ‘93 bombing. As Harvard professor of Islamic studies Ali Asani has complained, “There is general concern among Muslim intellectuals about how not only CAIR but some of these other organizations are claiming to speak in the name of the Muslim community, and how they’re coming to be recognized by the government as spokespeople for the Muslim community in the U.S.”
nd Norquist hasn’t only developed close ties to American groups that apologize for terror. He has also flacked for at least one Middle Eastern autocracy: Qatar. Eager to improve relations with the United States, Qatar worked with Norquist and Saffuri to help portray itself as a liberal outpost in the Islamic world. In April, Saffuri sponsored the “First Annual Conference on Free Trade and Democracy” in the Qatari capital of Doha, for which the Islamic Institute received over $150,000 in payments from the Qatar Embassy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Account. (Saffuri says these were reimbursements for the travel expenses of congressional delegates.) A lobbyist at Norquist’s firm, Janus-Merritt, has solicited pro-Qatari op-eds from at least one conservative pundit. When the emir of Qatar came to Washington, Saffuri hosted a Capitol Hill luncheon in his honor. And just three weeks after September 11, Norquist wrote an op-ed in The Washington Times in which he claimed that “Qatar has taken great strides to enshrine values of universal suffrage, a free press, and human rights.” He continued, “[S]he really means it on being a reliable ally.”
Qatar may not be Iraq, but Norquist’s arguments are still laughable. Freedom House, which monitors religious liberty, rates Qatar “not free.” Among countries in the Middle East—a region hardly known for its liberalism—Qatar finished in the bottom half of a Heritage Foundation “Index of Economic Freedom.” Two days after Norquist’s op-ed, The Washington Post reported on Qatar’s refusal to support a widening of the war on terrorism to include Islamic Jihad, Hamas, or Hezbollah. And, just two weeks later, the foreign minister of Qatar—our “reliable ally”—announced that “[t]he attacks against Afghanistan are unacceptable and we have condemned them. It is our clear position.”
orquist’s new associations—particularly his links to groups like CAIR and the AMC—have not gone unnoticed in conservative ranks. Paul Weyrich says, “I have on at least one occasion [confronted him] and he assured me that he knew what he was doing and that I shouldn’t have any concerns.” Another conservative says he told Norquist about the two organizations’ statements on terrorism, but it didn’t make an impression. “We can’t knock it off; we want them on our own team,” Norquist replied.
Norquist’s relationships have even pitted him against the GOP leadership. After the Republican convention last year, he set up a lunch at the Capitol Hill Club for Republican Party chairman Jim Nicholson to plot strategy with Muslim leaders. But in the week before the event, angry Jewish groups provided the RNC with a set of damning quotes from representatives of CAIR, the AMC, and some of the other invited guests. When I asked Cliff May, who was the Republican National Committee’s communications director at the time, he confirmed the story. “I was approached and apprised of their backgrounds and told the chairman there’s reason to be concerned.” The event took place—Nicholson didn’t feel he could cancel it—but not as originally planned. As one RNC source explains it, Nicholson gave a “generic five-minute talk about lower taxes and less government and said thank you for your support and got the hell out.”
Since September, not surprisingly, conservatives once willing to overlook Norquist’s alliances have more aggressively aired their grievances. Consider William Murray, head of the Religious Freedom Coalition. He had considered Norquist a comrade, but now makes no secret of his displeasure. “Grover has a very liberated view of Islamic nations,” says Murray, somewhat hyperbolically. “So they behead people in the public square. He thinks that’s their business. Hey, it’s no big deal to have people beheaded for religious crimes.” Weyrich, too, has made his unhappiness a matter of public record: “I’m afraid Grover’s woefully naive.” Even Norquist’s weekly confab has become the scene of internecine fighting. At a session earlier this month, Frank Gaffney questioned the presence of terrorist sympathizers at the White House. Norquist exploded, accusing Gaffney of smearing Muslims. Later he choked up as he addressed the meeting and asked Gaffney to stand up and join him in condemning anti-Muslim bigotry. One conservative who witnessed Norquist’s tirade says, “His response is powered in part by a sense that this whole edifice he’s created is in danger of coming unraveled because of [these groups’] stated and abiding positions.”
When I visited Norquist, he was in a similarly embattled frame of mind. He asked me to turn off my tape recorder. Any quote I wanted to use, he told me, would require his approval. There were none of his usual passionate ideological perorations. He just sat in his chair, seething. “There are some people who spit on Muslims and wouldn’t like to see them have any role in American politics,” he told me in a near scream. Grover Norquist’s pursuit of the fabled Republican-Muslim alliance, it seems, will continue for a long time.
FRANKLIN FOER is an associate editor at TNR.
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You can forget about Fiorina, she had to be told:
What Arab Civilization?
Norquist got buy being called a Conservative ‘cause he had a flourishing business as a fund raiser for Conservatives, for many years. Apparently it was always about the dollars and not the principles. I think his new friends more readily admit that much to themselves than did his old friends.
Were they there for the impromptu meeting?
That would be my 1st Q.
That’s a great letter, thanks.
Norquist practices taqiyya, that’s all.
Is there some correlation between Norquist’s no tax increases whatsoever and the fact that Islamic law does not allow interest to be charged on debt. Is it really appropriate that practically all Republicans have felt forced to sign his tax pledge even though tax increases in some places might be appropriate with tax reductions in other places.
Home from work, found the article from the Washington City Paper, 7-8-11, “Housing Complex: The Prophet Motive, Will Qatari investors bring Shariah law to downtown DC real estate?” [some excerpts and condensations] “Qatar and Kuwait are the entities with the biggest wads of cash to invest in international real estate....Much of the oil they sell is paid for in dollars, which are easy to turn into US assets.”
A 2006 leasing plan, before Middle East involvement, included 5 restaurants, 14 cafe-type establishments, and 10 “market food” sellers, and a “wine store” and “wine bar cafe”, apparently not a problem for the Qataris after they became involved in the financing. Lack of problems are aided by the “Qataris’ flexibility. All restaurants will be able to serve alcohol and pork. There’s no prohibition of leasing to, say, a lingerie store....or a branch bank.” “You might call it ‘Shariah-lite’.”
“Such flexibility is possible because of the decentralized nature of Islam. Though there’s an international body that standardizes Islamic financial practices, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to deciding what sort of tenants Shariah truly bans and what an investor can probably get away with.” If they don’t like what one Islamic law expert says, “they can always get a second opinion, and clever lawyers will help a fund adhere to their religious obligations without putting a damper on their profitability.” Mini-bars in Sharia money financed hotels are allowed because “customers choose to serve themselves alcohol; nobody’s forcing it upon them.”
All in all investors from many countries are pouring money into the US, still considering us the safest large haven in the world. Some of it is bound to be Islamic.
I finally read the whole article and the very long comment. I am astounded that Norquist has been able to persuade practically all Republican Congresspeople to sign his no new taxes pledge. I hope that with this new information about Norquist’s comradeship with questionable Muslims and Muslim groups, Republicans will disavow their Norquist pledges and start to think carefully about the whole tax issue.
While cutting taxes often makes sense, some takes might need to be raised to cover certain important things. For example, why was no tax ever proposed by key Republicans to cover the War on Terror, both the expansion of Homeland Security, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This issue is of special concern for me as my son fought in Gulf War 1 with the 82nd, and is headed back to Afghanistan in Sept. for his second tour there with Special Forces.
Oil, safer than coke.
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