Grover Norquist is No ‘Useful Idiot’

In the course of an uncomfortable hour-long television interview with Grover Norquist yesterday, radio and TV talk show host Glenn Beck established a number of things. The most surprising is that the libertarian activist best known for his anti-tax campaigns would rather be perceived as what influence operators call a “useful idiot” – an individual unwittingly duped into helping hostile forces – than as an “agent of influence” for those forces. As Bill Clinton used to say, “That dawg won’t hunt.”

No one who knows Grover Norquist would believe that this Harvard MBA with decades of experience running sophisticated and impactful political and lobbying campaigns at the highest levels of official Washington is an idiot, useful or otherwise. Certainly, he is too smart to have been taken for a ride by relative newcomers to the business, namely Muslim Brotherhood-associated operatives. (As pollster John Zogby recounted in 2001: “[Norquist has] played the role of interlocutor. With all respect, many of the [Muslim] leaders are immigrants and don’t have years and years of experience. Grover has filled that void.” http://tinurl.com/oebajak)

Mr. Beck afforded Norquist an opportunity to respond to evidence amassed over the past fifteen years by an array of investigative journalists and national security practitioners. Norquist’s responses were a mish-mosh of filibustering non-answers, deflections, ad hominem attacks, improbable defenses and outright deceptions.

A few examples suffice to call into question Norquist’s latest claims:

  • Who are Grover Norquist’s “Muslim leaders”? Beck drilled down on Norquist’s ties to a succession of individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood with whom he has made common cause over the years. In response, Norquist suggested that he did not know, scarcely interacted with or was oblivious to the true nature of such “Muslim leaders” – especially two who subsequently went to prison on terrorism charges: Abrurahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian. Like Claude Raines in “Casablanca,” he risibly professes to have been shocked, shocked to have only belatedly discovered their true jihadist nature.

That would only have been possible if he deliberately worked not to know. After all, long before Alamoudi and al-Arian were arrested and convicted, it was common knowledge that both were deeply problematic Islamic supremacists. David Horowitz’s “Discover the Networks” website notes:

  • In 1994, [Alamoudi] said: “Hamas is not a terrorist group…. I have followed the good work of Hamas.”
  • In March 1996, Alamoudi said he was “honored to be a member of the committee that is defending” Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) founder Musa Abu Marzook, who in 1997 would be deported from the U.S. because of his Hamas-related activities. “I really consider him to be from among the best people in the Islamic movement,” Alamoudi added. “Hamas … and I work together with him.”
  • In December 1996, Alamoudi told a meeting of the IAP: “I think if we were outside this country, we can say, ‘Oh, Allah, destroy America,’ but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it…. You can be violent anywhere else but in America.”

As for Sami al-Arian, as far back as April 1991, he had been captured on film declaring: “Let us damn America. Let us damn Israel. Let us damn their allies until death. Why do we stop?”

In addition, al-Arian’s well-documented associations were instructive. For many years, he was involved with known Muslim Brotherhood fronts including: the International Institute for Islamic Thought, the International Association for Palestine, the American Muslim Council and the Islamic Society of North America as early as the mid-1990s. In addition, according to Wikipedia, al-Arian’s “University of South Florida/World Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE) [al-Arian’s think tank at the University of South Florida] associate Ramadan Abdullah Shallah,…had been designated a Specially Designated Terrorist by the U.S. in 1995 and was accused of being Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.[1][2][3]

Also, Byron York reported in National Review that “During all this time [specifically, from July 2001 (when Norquist protégé Suhail Khan arranged for al-Arian to attend a White House briefing) to his indictment in 2003], al-Arian’s terrorist ties were public knowledge, having been the subject of press reports and congressional testimony.” http://tinurl.com/nvrr4emj)

  • Norquist and the Islamic Institute: Beck grilled Grover Norquist about the organization he started in 1998 with help from Abdurahman Alamoudi, the Islamic Free Market Institute (better known as the Islamic Institute). Norquist made a series of implausible and tortured explanations for the role of this organization – a Muslim Brotherhood influence operation set up inside his offices – and that of the man hired to establish and run it, Khaled Saffuri.

As Mr. Beck established, Saffuri was a long-time associate of and former deputy to Alamoudi at several of his Brotherhood front organizations. (One of them was the American Task Force on Bosnia (ATFB). Although Norquist averred that “Jews supported” the Task Force at the time, according to U.S. Naval War College professor Jonathan Schindler, the ATFB was “The most important bin Laden front working Washington on the [Islamist] Party of Democratic Action (SDA)’s behalf.”)

Norquist insists the Islamic Institute was just a vehicle for promoting capitalism, property rights and small government – ostensibly all supported by a non-Muslim economist’s reading of the Koran. He tries to deflect attention from the following facts:

  • In October 2000, the Islamic Institute’s co-sponsored, along with a number of other Muslim Brotherhood-tied organizations, an anti-Israel demonstration in Lafayette Square. On that occasion, Alamoudi declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah. In response to Mr. Beck’s questions about this event, Norquist preposterously blamed the Institute’s sponsorship on the unauthorized say-so of “an intern.”
  • Grover Norquist’s involvement with the Islamic Institute gave Muslim Brotherhood-tied individuals access to the Bush campaign (e.g., Khaled Saffuri’s appointment as Muslim outreach coordinator for the George W. Bush 2000 campaign). And, after the election, it helped place others in government positions (e.g., Suhail Khan at the White House and Transportation Department and Faisal Gill in the Department of Homeland Security).
  • The Institute also was instrumental in promoting the agenda of Muslim Brotherhood leader, Sami al-Arian, aimed at denying prosecutors the ability to protect classified information in deportation proceedings.
  • Grover Norquist “Champion of the Abolishment of Secret Evidence Movement”: Glenn Beck probed Norquist’s work on behalf of al-Arian’s bid to prohibit so-called “secret evidence.” Norquist repeatedly insisted that his interest in repealing the authorization for the use of such evidence had nothing to do with al-Arian. He claimed instead to have been inspired to do so by former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey.

As it happens, Mr. Woolsey did not advocate repeal of the statute authorizing this practice. He simply sought to secure for defendants’ lawyers with appropriate security clearances an opportunity to review relevant classified material – but not the alien defendants themselves. Norquist, on the other hand, was pushing the position of his Brotherhood-tied Muslim friends: outright repeal of the statute in question. In fact, Norquist received an award for his “abolishment” efforts personally from Sami al-Arian himself. Contrary to Norquist’s assertion, Mr. Woolsey did not from al-Arian such an award.

  • Khaled Saffuri and the Muslim Brotherhood: Beck challenged Norquist several times about hiring Alamoudi’s “right-hand man” to run the Islamic Free Market Institute. Norquist implausibly responded that: Saffuri did not like Alamoudi “who looked back” (translation: Alamoudi was a shariah-adherent and -promoting Islamist) and, even though he worked under that Muslim Brother (and al Qaeda financier) for many years, he did not share Alamoudi’s Islamic supremacist views. He asserted that Saffuri alone was responsible for taking $20,000 from Alamoudi for the Islamic Institute and that Saffuri was ignorant of his boss’ jihadism until Alamoudi’s outburst at the October 2000 demonstration. These are preposterous claims.

Among other roles with Alamoudi, Saffuri worked with Alamoudi as his executive director for the American Task Force on Bosnia (ATFB). According to US Naval War College professor Jonathan Schindler, the ATFB was “The most important bin Laden front working Washington on the [Islamist] Party of Democratic Action (SDA)’s behalf.” (http://tinyurl.com.njkkp8p) Saffuri could not have been trusted to work in such an organization without being reliably sympathetic to its mission and aligned with its founder.

Glenn Beck charitably, if sarcastically, offered the explanation for Grover Norquist’s serial assertions that he didn’t know what was happening around him and who he was working with that Norquist was the “unluckiest man in the world.” If Norquist’s increasingly desperate assertions were true, he wouldn’t be unlucky. He would be a useful idiot, a dupe who was manipulated by others to do their bidding.

The facts (both those itemized above and those compiled in a dossier at point to a more straightforward, if unpalatable, conclusion: Grover Norquist knew exactly who he was dealing with – “Muslim leaders” whose community he thought could be induced to provide money and votes in exchange for access to powerful political figures and concessions on substantive issues (notably, secret evidence and policy towards Israel).

The fact that these leaders were known Islamic supremacists with documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood was clearly not a showstopper for Grover Norquist in starting up the Islamic Free Market Institute in 1998 – nor at any point since. If anything, the evidence suggests Norquist has been sympathetic to Islamist agendas as: blocking or dismantling U.S. counter-terror capabilities (e.g., secret evidence, the Patriot Act), enforcing what amount to shariah blasphemy laws by shutting down cutting defense expenditures and maintaining open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens who take advantage of it.

Grover Norquist is no idiot. He certainly has been useful to America’s enemies, though, and evidently thinks the rest of us are sufficiently idiotic not to recognize deliberate dissembling when we see it.

About Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Frank Gaffney is the Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Under Mr. Gaffney's leadership, the Center has been nationally and internationally recognized as a resource for timely, informed and penetrating analyses of foreign and defense policy matters. Mr. Gaffney formerly acted as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy during the Reagan Administration, following four years of service as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy. Previously, he was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee under the chairmanship of the late Senator John Tower, and a national security legislative aide to the late Senator Henry M. Jackson.