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Grover Norquist's Strange Alliance With Radical Islam
The New Republic ^ | November 11, 2001 | Franklin Foer

Posted on 11/01/2001 4:14:21 PM PST by testforecho

Fevered Pitch
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."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: amnesty; enemywithin; gnorquist; grovernorquist; muslim; norquist; wahhabilobby
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To: veronica
And me too.

Who'd of ever figured that I would be a proponent of "diversity"

Too funny.

21 posted on 11/01/2001 5:27:56 PM PST by muleboy
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To: testforecho
"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."

Actually, the best estimate puts the number at under 2 million.

22 posted on 11/01/2001 5:30:49 PM PST by Kermit
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To: muleboy
Yeah, and you have almost as much credibility as they do. (-:
23 posted on 11/01/2001 5:31:02 PM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
Grover normally has a great political attenna, and he's shrewd, so he has the capacity to pull himself out of this myopia.Unlike others.Maybe he's spent too much time being a mercenary political operative that he's lost his sense of proportion, and he can't cut off the cash flow to save himself.That's a route many establishment Pubbies have taken over the years,shilling for whoever pays the tune.
24 posted on 11/01/2001 5:32:11 PM PST by habs4ever
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To: veronica
Thank you for the compliment.
25 posted on 11/01/2001 5:34:39 PM PST by muleboy
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To: veronica
More on the Secret Evidence Repeal Act:: and The events of 9-11

Thanks for the link!

26 posted on 11/01/2001 5:34:42 PM PST by testforecho
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To: habs4ever
Grover's problem is that he can shill for Muslims all he wants, but the events of 9-11 have ripped the facade off many Muslim "charities" and Muslim advocacy groups, and what's behinde the curtain is not very pretty. He's left holding the bag and many in the GOP do not want to be part of that.
27 posted on 11/01/2001 5:36:09 PM PST by veronica
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To: muleboy
No problem. Of course Reese has left the Orlando Sentinel, (fired?) and is in the wilderness with Sobran and Buchanan. It's cold out there, bring mittens.
28 posted on 11/01/2001 5:39:04 PM PST by veronica
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To: veronica
'tis almost always winter when you are right.

The summer's sun shines on the lazy, the weak, and the conformist.

29 posted on 11/01/2001 5:46:28 PM PST by muleboy
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To: muleboy
Charley Reese::

"So, Sentinel readers, adieu. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and letters. To those of you who sent unkind thoughts, go to hell."

He sounds awfully grouchy, like Norquist.

30 posted on 11/01/2001 5:52:33 PM PST by veronica
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To: muleboy
...and America will benefit enormously from the coming, and long overdue, new balance.

I am offended with people here playing politics with this. I don't care about ancient tribal rivalrys between Jews and Arabs, I care about a group that calls itself a religion but operates as an organized crime group. I have heard there are several places in the Koran that advocates violence in the name of allah. I have also heard that if you try to leave islam, they will kill you. This sounds more like a soprano's plot than a true religion. And if Rabbis were getting up in temples advocating violence to innocents I would be all for escorting them out of the country also.

What I am looking for, first before we let these political types start playing, is a clear, strong condemnation of the 9/11 acts by muslims here and abroad. I am not hearing that; only weak, qualified, disapprovals when the cameras are on and giggling high fives when they are off.

If they are going to be that way, OK, but I will do whatever I can to not have them in my party, not have them in my country, and not have them on my planet.

31 posted on 11/01/2001 6:13:56 PM PST by det dweller too
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To: muleboy; veronica; beckett
Sounds like Grover realizes that America's self-interest would be furthered more by developing closer relations with Muslims, here and abroad, than by continuing to placate, appease, American Jews, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and the state of Israel, whose policies are a perpetual pain in the backside.

I'm not going to defend any or all Israeli policies. Is there an effective Israel lobby in Congress? You bet. Do I think this is a good thing? Nope. I am concerned about any foreign government using either co-religionists or its citizens here to influence U.S. foreign policy.

Here are some links about this issue:

(Cached google) Moslim in de Polder (Muslim in the Netherlands) book review, from Columbia International Affairs Online

Foreign Attachments: The Power of Ethnic Groups in the Making of American Foreign Policy, book review in Fletcher Ledger (also see this google search)

Western Europe and its Islam: The Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain React to an Emerging Religious Community , book summary

foreign policy analyst Bruce Bechtol, Jr. introduces us to the growing influence Korean American community organizations are coming to have upon U.S. domestic and foreign policy towards the Korean peninsula. (Unfortunately the full article is not available)

American Muslims and U.S. Foreign Policy: What are their major objectives, and how are they being implemented? (This is interesting to see what they said prior to 9-11 and in particular Abdurahman Alamoudi, also a photo of some of these guys.)

Immigration's Impact on U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy, this is a PDF file, 48 pages, from the Commission on Immigration Reform back in 1997.

"This paper examines the relationship be-tween U.S. immigration, foreign policy, and national security. It assumes that the primary interest of the United States is its national security and that the ultimate goal of U.S. foreign policy is to promote U.S. national security. The paper outlines the ways in which immigration has been af-fected by the national security interests and foreign policies of the United States as well as the way in which immigration has affected national security concerns and resulting foreign policy."

It sounds more like The New Republic's casting Grover's activities in their most negative light. As there MAY be as many Muslims in the U.S. as there are Jews, and as our economy depends on oil from Muslim countries, and as we are now faced with the necessary task of eradicating the threat of Muslim extremists, we also have the incredible opportunity to reshape the cultures of the Arab states in our favor.

I think part of this is certainly due to a 'gotcha' mentality among reporters. But this is really bad. This is like the Democratic party cozying up to Rabbi Kahane, except Kahane never did anything of this magnitude. Isn't it significant at all that these muslims refuse to condem Hamas, Hezbollah, etc? Sen. Kennedy is a known terrorist coddler - he has consistently tried to aid the IRA. And that is also horrible. But the IRA didn't fly those planes into the Trade Center and Pentagon. Islamists did, and to say the least there is a credibility problem here. And there is a problem in associating with them and legitimating them by treating them as important spokesman.

Grover and the Pro-Muslim forces in this country are now suffering an embarassment, as did the Pro-Israel lobby did in 1967. It will pass, and America will benefit enormously from the coming, and long overdue, new balance.

We may benefit from a new balance. We may even be able to maintain friendly relations with the muslim world. But I'm not banking on it. If the Saudi government is so fragile that bombing Afganistan causes it to fall aren't we better off lancing that boil now then 10 years down the road?

P.S. I don't think the Liberty incident is comparable. That was a naval ship (albeit lightly armed) in a war zone - not a skyscraper.

32 posted on 11/01/2001 6:19:36 PM PST by testforecho
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To: testforecho
bump for later
33 posted on 11/01/2001 6:29:07 PM PST by toenail
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To: veronica; Betty Jo; Wallaby; Uncle Bill; roughrider; Sabertooth; golitely; aristeides; kattracks...
Looks like that Bush is following (being wrongly led and misinformed or consciously knowing what he is doing?) the same path GOre and Clinton took raising political money from American Muslim and Islamic front terror counsels and leaders in the US.

From reading this article,now I know why Bush has ordered the FBI and Powell to go soft on Hamas in the US . In fact the FBI ordered OKC TV station KWTV9 not to report on a well established Hamas cell in OKC (over ten years, identified in video "Jihad in America" by Steve Emerson) which helped the WTC pilots and assisted in the OKC bombing. The station was told not to report on Hamas because doing so would be viewed as (religious) discrimination. THis is wrong headed to think Hamas should be protected by the Bush administration because they are aligned with Muslim figures who donate to Bush and the Republicans and say they are peaceful, religious figures when they really are violent and radical.

Asad Siddiqy , a cab driver from the Bronx, was arrested in OKC the day of the OKC bombing after being seen by witness Debbie Burdick with McVeigh moments before the Murrah building was blown up.Siddiqy was a prime suspect in the first WTC bombing but he was released on orders of Reno and Freeh within a day after the OKC bombing. There are FBI 302 reports on this. Asad Siddiqy may well be related to the Muslim cleric Siddiqy named in the above article since they both have the same name, live close to NY City and are both Muslim (Pakistani)extremists likely sympathetic to the pro-Taliban element in Pakistan as well as Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein (paid 7 Pakistanis to assist in the OKC bombing as reported by VIncent Cannistrao, former ME operations chief for the CIA).

Bush is either duped and misled or he is stupid or he is selling out the safety of the American people to radical Muslim figures. These figures do not represent a "peaceful" Muslim religion. The Anti-christ "will destroy wonderfully" by peace." Many radical Muslims represent the spirit of Anti-Christ since they like Bin Laden are out to kill ALL Christians as part of their religious views and doctrines.

34 posted on 11/01/2001 7:05:03 PM PST by OKCSubmariner
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To: muleboy
I don't think the "balance" you are hoping for, with greater Muslim influence in the American political scene, will occur, as Americans wake up to the fact that radical Islam is mainstream Islam in most of the world, if not here as well.
35 posted on 11/01/2001 7:58:53 PM PST by FreedomPoster
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To: testforecho; Chapita; rwz; Travis McGee; Nita Nupress; Nancie Drew; Secret Squid
Please see reply #34.
36 posted on 11/01/2001 9:42:52 PM PST by OKCSubmariner
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To: AtticusX
Please see reply #34.
37 posted on 11/01/2001 10:03:57 PM PST by OKCSubmariner
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To: OKCSubmariner; *TerrOrWar
I wonder, if we put enough pressure on Syria to make her join the coalition against al Qaeda, will Hamas go along with such a change of policy?
38 posted on 11/02/2001 3:40:12 AM PST by aristeides
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To: OKCSubmariner
Thanks for the flag OKCSub. I appreciate it.

39 posted on 11/02/2001 11:59:04 AM PST by AtticusX
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To: muleboy
Dream on, camelboy.
40 posted on 11/07/2001 10:22:55 AM PST by Pelham
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