Today’s Washington Times is a study in contrasts. On Page One, an above-the-fold article virtually gushes about the inroads being made in America’s libraries by one of the Nation’s most controversial Muslim-American organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Then, on page 21, the paper’s Commentary section presents an op.ed. by syndicated columnist Mark Steyn that raises troubling questions about the extent of the penetration of our society and key institutions by adherents of radical strains of the Islamic faith.
Mr. Steyn provides a public service by connecting the proverbial "dots" on a number of events that some insist might be "coincidences" – even though they all have something to do with Wahhabism, the extremist version of Islam that is the Saudi state religion, or other ties to radical Muslims known as "Islamists."
For example, Steyn chronicles John Allen Muhammad’s sympathy for such jihadists and his symbolic tributes paid to the 9/11 attacks during the run-up to and execution of his alleged sniping attacks that terrorized the greater Washington region last year. He points out the improbability that a Saudi Cabinet minister stayed in the same Herndon hotel on 10 September 2001 as two of the next day’s hijackers.
Steyn also notes the role of a self-declared Hamas and Hezbollah supporter, Adburahman Alamoudi, in appointing Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military – including one assigned to minister to Taliban and al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo – prior, that is, to his arrest on charges of taking money from Libya. Alamoudi admitted to British officials that he had intended to put $340,000 worth of such funds into Saudi bank accounts, which would then be drawn upon to fund U.S.-based organizations like his pro-Islamist American Muslim Foundation.
Mocking the idea that these sorts of connections are in fact coincidences, Mark Steyn offers a sensible rule of thumb: "Why can’t the U.S. introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution?"
Of course, such a policy would conflict with the Bush Administration’s practices of: including representatives of CAIR in meetings with senior officials, among them the President; allowing their personnel to provide "sensitivity training" to FBI agents; and empowering CAIR chapters as interlocutors with Muslim communities around the country. It might even mean that CAIR would be unable to insinuate its selection of books about Islam into American libraries – especially if those books were either published, provided or selected by Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.
By Mark Steyn
The Washington Times, 20 October 2003
A year ago, when the self-regarding buffoon Chief Charles Moose was bungling the Washington sniper investigation and the cable-news shows were full of endless psychological profiles of "white male loners," a few of us columnists entertained the notion that the killer was linked to Islamist terrorism.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper thought this was so absurd he very kindly apologized to readers on my behalf. "An awful lot of conservatives really, really wanted the snipers to be terrorists," explained Richard. "But they were wrong. I’ll say that because they never will."
Even at the time, the Roeper position required a certain suspension of disbelief. John Allen Muhammad was a Muslim, a supporter of al Qaeda’s actions, a man who marked the events of September 11, 2001, by changing his name to "Muhammad" and a man who marked the first anniversary of September 11 by buying the Chevy Caprice subsequently used in the sniper attacks. Coincidence? Of course. It’s only a handful of conservative kooks who would even think otherwise.
Interesting item from the London Evening Standard last week:
"Evidence has emerged linking Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad with an Islamic terror group. Muhammad has been connected to Al Fuqra, a cult devoted to spiritual purification through violence. The group has been linked to British shoe bomber Richard Reid and the murderers of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year."
Hmm. Might be nothing. Might be just another coincidence. Lot of them around at the moment — like that Saudi Cabinet minister who coincidentally stayed in the same hotel on the night of Sept. 10 as some of the September 11 terrorists. Just one of those things. But the authorities seem to be taking the links more seriously than when they first surfaced a year ago.
Here’s another coincidence: The guy who heads up the organization that certifies Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military was arrested at Dulles Airport last month and charged with illegally accepting money from Libya. The month before that, Abdurahman Alamoudi was caught by the British trying to smuggle some $340,000 into Syria.
Think about that for a minute. Ten years ago, at an American military base, at a ceremony to install the first imam in this country’s armed forces, it was Mr. Alamoudi who presented him with his new insignia of a silver crescent star. And the guy’s a bagman for terrorists.
Infiltration-wise, I would say that’s pretty good. The arthritic bureaucracy at the CIA say oh, no, it would be impossible for them to get any of their boys inside al Qaeda. Can’t be done. But the other side has no difficulty getting their chaps set up in the heart of the U.S. military.
What kind of chaplains did Mr. Alamoudi’s American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council pick out to serve our men and women in uniform? Well, among them was Capt. James "Yousef" Yee, recently detained under suspicion of spying at Guantanamo Bay. Also arrested were two Arabic translators, found with classified documents from Gitmo on their CDs, etc.
Infiltration-wise, that’s also pretty good. The CIA say, sorry, folks, the best we can do with all the gazillions of dollars we get is monitor phone calls from outer space. But the other side has no difficulty getting their boys inside America’s most secure military base and principal terrorist detention center.
The Pentagon, of course, is taking this subversion of its chaplaincy program seriously. It’s currently reviewing all its chaplains. By "all," I mean not just all the Muslim chaplains, but also all the Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish ones. After all, it might just be another one of those coincidences that the chaplain detained for spying is Muslim and that the organizations that certified him are Muslim. Best to investigate the Catholics just to be on the safe side.
If the Democrats hadn’t decided to sit out the war on terror by frolicking on Planet Bananas for the duration, they could be seriously hammering the administration on this. Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, while in prison was converted to radical Islamism by a chaplain who came to Britain under a fast-track immigration program for imams set up by Her Majesty’s Government. They felt they had a shortage of Muslim chaplains, and not knowing much about the business or where to look for ’em felt it easiest to put up a big neon sign at Heathrow saying, "Hey, mullahs, come on down." It all seemed to be working well until they noticed that these guys seemed to be the spiritual mentors of a lot of the wackiest terrorists.
So how come, two years after September 11, groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America’s military bases, prisons and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go? It’s not difficult to figure out: Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all 19 of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis — whose state religion is Wahhabism — fund the spread of their faith in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?
Here’s an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America’s interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists’ interest. So why can’t the U.S. introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution?
That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C Wilson IV. Remember him? He’s the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances nothing was going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he’s no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud’s payroll. And the Saudis vehemently opposed war with Saddam.
Think about that. To investigate Saddam Hussein’s attempted acquisition of uranium, the United States government sent a man in the pay of the Saudi government. The Saudis set up schools that turn out terrorists. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They set up think tanks that buy up and neuter the U..S diplomatic corps. And their ambassador’s wife funnels charitable donations to the September 11 hijackers.
But it’s all just an unfortunate coincidence, isn’t it? After all, the Saudis are our friends. Thank goodness.
Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.