Skip to comments.Mentoring a “Martyrdom” Supporter-protégé of Prof. John Esposito openly supports Islamic terrorism
Posted on 08/31/2006 5:40:53 AM PDT by SJackson
Months after Karen Hughes assumed the role of diplomat-at-large to the Muslim world, she told Time magazine that one of her two key influences on understanding Islam was Georgetown Prof. John Esposito. Shes not alone. The FBI has repeatedly consulted him, and much of academia holds him in high regard.
But when hes not busy shaping U.S. policy toward the Muslim world, Prof. Esposito mentors a man who wishes he could be a suicide bomber and who recently (and publicly) reinforced his support for martyrdom. He has collaborated on two books with Dr. Azzam Tamimi, and he still maintains a close relationship with him to this day.
Despite rubbing elbows with elites in government and academe, Prof. Espositos mentoring of an avowed martyrdom supporter actually fits in line with his overall record. He has publicly defended known advocates of Islamic terrorism, and although he was considered a leading expert on political Islam in the 1990s, he was downplaying the threat posed by the Taliban and bin Laden right up until 9/11.
While Prof. Esposito has long courted controversymost recently when the Georgetown-based center he founded in 1993 accepted $20 million last year from (and took the name of) a notorious Saudi princehe has somehow been able to maintain a relatively high reputation in academic and government circles.
That Prof. Esposito is still largely respected owes to the subtlety of his apologism. He acknowledges that there is radicalism in Islam, and he generally avoids defending the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Even as he argues for engaging Islamists, he does so without overtly endorsing their worldview. But Prof. Esposito skillfully minimizes the threat posed by radical Islam, and as demonstrated by his close affiliation with Dr. Tamimi, who told a massive crowd in the UK last week that dying for your beliefs is just, he willingly associates with avowed cheerleaders of Islamic terrorism.
Prof. Espositos defendersand there are manyclaim that his critics conflate his practical advice that Islamists cannot simply be ignored with apologism for radical Islam. While such an answer may be appealing for those who believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, it simply doesnt square with the facts.
Although Prof. Esposito is less transparent than most apologists for radical Islam, the Georgetown scholar is more than a mere apologist. He defends supporters of Islamic terrorism. He even mentors them.
Downplaying the Taliban
Though most Americans were not aware of the Taliban or the threat they posed, there were a significant number of experts warning about the ascendancy of the so-called religious students movement in Afghanistan. Esposito was not one of them.
A Nexis search reveals that between bylines and quotes, Espositos name appeared over 200 times between 1994, the year the Taliban first emerged, and September 10, 2001. Only a handful of times did he mention the Islamic tyrants, and just once did he say something that could be deemed critical. In a quote, he called the Taliban radical. That was it.
Despite being listed in an August 2000 Associated Press article as a specialist in Asiatic Islam, he did nothing to warn policymakers about the dangers of the Taliban. Quite the opposite, in fact. But it wasnt just the Taliban he downplayed. Esposito was the most vocal advocate of embracing, rather than fearing, Islamist movements that started gaining traction in the early 1990s.
His 1992 book The Islamic Threat : Myth or Reality? unsurprisingly comes down mostly on the side of myth. The closing paragraph concludes: Islam and most Islamic movements are not necessarily anti-Western, anti-American, or anti-democratic. ... they do not necessarily threaten American interests. Our challenge is to better understand the history and realities of the Muslim world. As Daniel Pipes noted in a Wall Street Journal review of the book, Esposito even recommended that U.S. foreign policy should be carried on in the context in which ideological differences between the West and Islam are recognized and, to the greatest extent possible, accepted or at least tolerated.
At a time when others were sounding the alarm about the well-documented brutality of the Taliban, Esposito was urging for calm. In a lengthy Commonweal article in September 1997, Esposito dedicated 4,000 words to extolling the richness and diversity of the Muslim experience. The only reference to the Taliban was in the opening, where he implied that the capture of Kabul had received far too much attention.
In what was somehow not a career-killer, Espositoshortly before 9/11argued that bin Laden was not nearly as great a threat as advertised, that his danger was needlessly hyped by the media. From the issue of Fletcher Forum of World Affairs that was still on newsstands on September 11, here is Esposito in his own words:
Bin Laden is the best thing that has come along, if you are an intelligence officer, if you are an authoritarian regime, or if you want to paint Islamist activism as a threat. Theres a danger in making Bin Laden the poster boy of global terrorism, and not realizing that there are a lot of other forces involved in global terrorism. Bin Laden has become the new symbol, following in the footsteps of Qaddafi, Khomeini, and Sheikh Omar Abdur Rahman. Bin Laden is a perfect media symbol: Hes tall, gaunt, striking, and always has a Kalashnikov with him. As long as we focus on these images we continue to see Islam and Islamic activism through the prism of ayatollahs and Iran, of Bin Laden and the Afghan Arabs.Defending known terror supporters
While he merely downplays the threat posed by Islamic terrorists, Esposito has openly lauded terror supporters. The Georgetown academic has lavished praise on two in particular: former University of South Florida professor (and convicted terrorist) Sami al-Arian, and al-Jazeera phenomenon Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
When USF moved to fire al-Arian in April 2002, Esposito wrote to the universitys president that he was stunned, astonished, and saddened. While naysayers point to acquittals he received on a number of charges, al-Arian pleaded guilty after the trial, admitting that he was, in fact, a key leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But even before the admission that was an Islamic terrorist, al-Arian was indisputably an avowed Islamic radical long before 9/11. Among other examples, the former USF professor played host in the early- to mid-90s to some of the most notorious jihadists in the world, all of which was well-documented by the Tampa Tribune and in the 1994 PBS documentary Jihad in America by Steven Emerson.
In other words, the public record on al-Arian was more than well-enough established as of April 2002 that there was simply no way that Esposito could have been stunned or astonished.
Even more troubling is the affection Prof. Esposito has displayed for Sheikh Qaradawi. In 2003, he fawned over Qaradawis reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights. The famous cleric, though, has issued fatwas endorsing suicide bombings in Israel and has said that those who kill Americans in Iraq are martyrs with good intentions. Qaradawi also supports the killing of homosexuals or anyone who has converted away from Islam.
With neither al-Arian nor Qaradawi does Esposito have any plausible deniability. But he doesnt owe nearly as much of an explanation for those sleights of hand as he does for his still un-severed relationship with his protégé, Azzam Tamimi.
Tamimi's teacher and partner
Since Tamimis stirring support for martyrdom in Manchester, Britain last week, Esposito has been curiously silent. He refused repeated requests by this columnist for comment. Esposito shouldnt be expected to criticize every radical statement made by a fellow professor, but he has a duty to speak up when the academic in question is inextricably linked to him.
Scholar Martin Kramer, who has done more careful analysis of both men than anyone, goes one step further, saying in an interview for this column that Esposito has done a great deal to raise his protégés profile by manufacturing Tamimis credentials as an academic author.
In 2000, Esposito co-edited with Tamimi a book called Islam and Secularism. The next year, Tamimi published a biography of Tunisian Islamist Rachid Ghannouchi, which was part of a series edited by Esposito. In the books introduction, Tamimi calls Esposito his ustadh, or teacher.
Even after Tamimis repeated support for the Islamic terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Hamas, Esposito still sits on the board of advisors of the Institute for Islamic Political Thought, founded and run by Tamimi, who confirmed this fact during a phone interview. Hes had multiple opportunities when comments by Tamimi should have prompted his resignation. None did.
A November 2001 Spanish newspaper article about an interview with Dr. Tamimi was titled, I admire the Taliban; they are courageous. The following July at a speech in South Africa, Dr. Tamimi paid stirring tribute to martyrs who blow themselves up. Then in 2004, Dr. Tamimi expressed to the BBC his desire to become a suicide bomber: If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it.
Whats most disconcerting about the case of Tamimi is not that someone who studied under and later worked with Esposito could turn out to be so noxious. Its that someone like Tamimi almost certainly could not have kept hidden his realand deeply-heldbeliefs from his mentor and collaborator.
In two separate phone interviews, Tamimi was quite freewheeling. Though he gave the standard disclaimer that any killing of innocent people is unacceptable, he quickly clarifiedor rather, contradictedhis statement. When asked if this applies to innocent people in Israel, he responded, Palestine is a special case. How so? It is legitimate for the Palestinians to fight the Israelis who are occupying their land. Does this apply to Americans and Brits killed in Iraq? Of course it holds true in Iraq.
Tamimis only testy moment during either interview came when asked if it was morally acceptable to kill Americans who are only in Iraq to rebuild things like roads and schools. He snapped, It is not my responsibility to tell the Iraqi people who they can kill or not.
To put it gently, Tamimi is not afraid to express radical views to a stranger, or for that matter, to 8,000 people in Manchester. It raises the question: What kind of venom has he spewed privately to Esposito?
Better yet, what has Esposito said back?
STOP THIS MADNESS!!
A LTTE of mine that is in this topic:
Amen and right on!
"It's time we recognized the nature of the conflict. It's total war and we are all involved. Nobody on our side is exempted because of age, gender, or handicap. The Islamofacists have stolen childhood from the world." [FReeper Retief]
actually, he looks dead!
Important for us all to know about this demonic man.