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Posted on 02/20/2003 1:35:33 PM PST by Bob J
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Here's some more on Grover Norquist's colleague and client, Khaled Saffuri.
Bush Challenges Terrorist Fronts
Posted April 29, 2002
Media Credit: Roger Wollenberg/INSIGHTFederal agents raided more than a dozen homes and an Islamic institute in suburban Washington on March 20 as part of a continued sweep of organizations suspected of funding international terrorism. The raids were carried out by the U.S. Customs Service as part of the Treasury Department's "Operation Green Quest" to dry up terrorist finances. They targeted Muslim charitable foundations linked to extremist groups in the Middle East that financed political-influence operations in the nation's capital. Officials tell Insight some $1.7 billion was funneled through those organizations in recent years.
Instead of helping the FBI, Customs Service and other federal investigators, prominent Muslim groups including one with close ties to the Republican Party have protested the raids and accused the feds of insensitivity. They also have been putting the squeeze on the Bush administration to back off.
On April 4, according to an Islamic Institute bulletin, "Islamic Institute Chairman Khaled Saffuri and leaders of three Muslim and Arab-American groups attended a closed luncheon meeting with Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill to discuss the recent raids of Muslim organizations, businesses and homes in Northern Virginia."
The bulletin continued: "The meeting was constructive, and the leaders expressed their concerns to Secretary O'Neill regarding the insensitive actions of Treasury agents during the raids against the Muslim-American organizations, and concerns of the community that civil-rights violations occurred. Secretary O'Neill promised that these concerns would be investigated."
The day before, the Islamic Institute met with Justice Department officials to, in its own words, "seek clarification of offensive statements about Islam recently attributed to Attorney General John Ashcroft."
Following the meeting, Islamic Institute Executive Director Abdulwahab Alkebsi said, "The Muslim-American community perceives that it is targeted for abuse right now, and the perception in the community when they hear statements like those attributed to the attorney general is that they are true. Positive confidence-building measures by the Department of Justice are needed to clarify that the community is not a target. Muslim Americans are ready to help their country in the war on terror, but they must be treated as part of the solution, not part of the problem."
That's all well and good, counterterrorism experts say, but such groups complaining about "insensitive actions" and "positive confidence-building measures" have been slow to offer help as citizens in the ongoing counterterrorism investigations. While the Islamic Institute belatedly urged speakers of Arabic, Farsi and other languages to help the FBI as translators, it never publicly called for its friends to support federal antiterrorism investigations with information. Instead, such groups have been more concerned with promoting their victim status.
Yet not all Muslim groups agree with Saffuri's attempt to cast U.S. Muslims as victims. Some urge cooperation with federal law-enforcement authorities. Ironically, they believe that instead of being courted they have been frozen out of dialogue with the Bush administration. "We are concerned that some government staffers may be undermining the best interests of our president and his administration either wittingly or not," says Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi of the Islamic Supreme Council of America. "It is no secret that our organization has repeatedly been excluded from White House, State Department and attorney general events with the Muslim community."
For Mirahmadi and others, there's no room for impeding domestic antiterrorism investigations. "It is our patriotic duty as Americans and our duty as Muslims to speak up against any attempt by extremists to mobilize the Muslim community against our country," she says.
Longtime observers of terrorist support groups liken today's situation to the 1980s FBI investigations of U.S.-based groups, such as the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), that raised money and served as propaganda organs for Marxist-Leninist guerrilla forces in Latin America.
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More than 15 years later, the Muslim charities raided in Northern Virginia, and related campaigns in many U.S. mosques, are seen as CISPES equivalents on behalf of Hamas and Hezbollah, which the State Department classifies as terrorist organizations. The outcry against FBI and Customs investigations and raids is the same as that of the FMLN supporters.
Even some of the characters are the same. Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights again are litigating and making public statements on behalf of terrorists and terrorist support groups. Conyers again is using his House Judiciary Committee post as a bully pulpit against the FBI.
Most recently Conyers was a plaintiff with Michigan media outlets in a lawsuit against the Justice Department to force the government to identify alleged terrorist detainees rounded up since Sept. 11 and to reveal the sensitive information federal authorities had against them. In April, a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Conyers' client, the evidence showed, was tied to a terrorist organization in the al-Qaeda network.
No one is alleging an al-Qaeda link with the groups raided in Northern Virginia, which seem devoted only to support for Hamas and Hezbollah. But the tactics of the "Muslim community" leaders mirror those of the CISPES network: deny the allegations, claim victim status, seek political refuge with prominent politicians and intimidate federal investigators into backing off.
Not all American Muslims are buying it. "Rather than becoming beacons for America's ideals by showing a willingness to submit to questioning by federal law enforcement instead of grandstanding about racial profiling, we are hiding behind the guarantees afforded to us by the very Constitution the terrorists sought to dismantle on Sept. 11," Pakistani-American businessman Mansour Ijaz wrote recently in the Washington Post. "Our anger demonstrates an inability to put citizenship before religious and ethnic allegiances and U.S. national-security interests before dubious claims of civil-rights violations."
After all, shutting off terrorist financing through nonprofits, whether the charities know whom they are funding or not, "is a paramount objective in America's war on terrorism," Ijaz noted. "The repeated denials by Muslim nonprofits about foreign sources of funding to operate their diverse and often dubious agendas are no longer enough. Neither are simplistic claims they fund legitimate causes abroad when the U.S. government which they increasingly lobby and help to elect has clear evidence to the contrary. If these groups want to lead America's Arabs and Muslims, they must lead first by setting an example for transparency and scrutiny."
That means, Ijaz wrote, that "America's Arabs and Muslims bear a special responsibility at this moment not to play the role of aggrieved victims. Rather, we should offer ourselves as resources to federal law-enforcement agencies interested in learning more about the complexities of our religious and ethnic roots; we should police our communities for sleeper agents; and we should stop the flow of foreign money and its corrosive influence into our political and religious nonprofit organizations."
Congressman Was Warned of Lobbyist's Suicide-Bomber Link
A December 2001 congressional staff memorandum to a Republican member of the House of Representatives warns of a lobbyist's financial support for a group raided by U.S. authorities for allegedly funding suicide bombers. The identities in the document are redacted, but senior federal law-enforcement officials confirmed its contents. Excerpts follow:
"Yesterday [a Muslim lobbyist] came into the office and I held a brief conversation with him. The conversation was so disturbing that it is only right that I bring it to your full attention.
"[The lobbyist] told me that he is quite upset with the president for freezing the assets of the Holy Land Fund [sic], which Mr. [George W.] Bush had just done a few days before due to the fact that the money raised here in the United States helps support terrorist groups. Upon further discussion, [the lobbyist] told me that he is a financial supporter of this fund the fund whose assets were frozen by the president. I asked him what the fund does, specifically, and [the lobbyist] told me that it supports the families orphans, widows of suicide bombers.
"In fact, [the lobbyist] went on to tell me, he even sponsors an orphaned child of a suicide bomber. He receives pictures and reports on this child's progress, thanks to the money [he] sends. He said he sees nothing wrong with his support of these people, that he's helping a child who has no father, etc.
"In light of the information relayed to me by [the lobbyist], I strongly recommend that this office sever all ties with [him]. My reasons are as follows:
"1. Even if under the best circumstances that [lobbyist] is innocently financing the group for the sole benefit of helping a fatherless child, he is still giving money to an organization that makes it possible for suicide bombers to carry out their missions. That is why President Bush froze their assets. The president was right to do so.
"2. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, it is imperative that you, as a member of Congress, receive your information about the Middle East and the Arab world from a source whom we can be sure has the best interests of the United States at heart. I do not believe this is the case with [the lobbyist]. I believe that his loyalties are elsewhere.
"I know [the lobbyist] is your friend and that you think highly of him. I believe that as your friend, if he is a true friend, he will understand the reason that you would not want to receive further counsel from him in light of his financial support for this organization."
Postscript: The congressman maintains his relations with the lobbyist. The staffer has since quit.
J. Michael Waller is a senior writer for Insight.
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Who do you suppose wrangled that meeting for Khaled Saffuri, a supporter of suicide bombers, with the Secretary of the Treasury?
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As did I. I was a Hager delegate to the convention. Even though he lives in Richmond he campaigns as hard for our statewide candidates up here as he would for Richmond City Council. I appreciate his efforts as some elected GOP officials achoo*tom davis*achoo have a tendency not to exert any effort on the behalf of others. Plus, he was right on the issues!
Department is off and running; good relationship with Ridge State's perspective: Ability to plug in one place to track federal funds and intelligence information.
FR: What about stepping on individual rights and liberties?
JH: We know about that line and are concerned about it. Only those skirting the law should be nervous. We must keep control of our security and safety by following the law.
FR: Sniper shootings?
JH: Never defined as terrorism but was concern and speculation, then everyone got involved because they are the same people who handle such events. There was cross-jurisdictional cooperation: federal, state and local -- great test of system.
We did many things right and we worked together better than we would have before 911. Learned a lot and will be better prepared for future events like tracking. Mohammed and Malvo were stopped in all 3 jurisdictions in Virginia where there was a killing and slipped through.
FR: How can FRs learn about the office?
JH: The office has gotten bigger every day in past year. Advice to help: Stay alert, involved, study, communicate. It's a challenge to plug in each individual who want to go to the defense of their country.
[This is so cool! It looks like a militia, a good one] Virginia Defense Force backs up the National Guard. Huge percentage of NG is called up, Virginia Defense Force is a valuable help for natural disasters, health and medical teams community level... especially around hospitals to help with widespread dissemination of smallpox vaccine. People with skills are needed! Commonwealth Preparedness
FR: It's been a pleasure, thank you for coming to CPAC.
JH: My pleasure. Thank you for being concerned about homeland security.
This is all paraphrase and should not be considered a transcript! Please feel free to add/correct anything I misrepresented.
I'm surprised you don't join in some of the historical debates here at FR. The history of the birth of the Republican party and what it initially stood for are often the topic of much discussion, but you may know that and purposefully decline!
And kudos to France for winning the "award"
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