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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Importance of Being (Peter) King

By Deborah Weiss
FrontPage Magazine
June 24, 2011

Poor Peter. The burdens that come with exposing the problem of radical Islam in America are falling squarely on Congressman Peter King’s shoulders. This is because he, almost single-handedly, has taken up the mantle of leadership on this issue in the form of congressional hearings. This is a daunting task no doubt, and he is to be commended for both his efforts and his courage.It was therefore a grave disappointment when last week’s hearing, titled “The threat of Muslim-American radicalization in U.S. Prisons” fell flat. Indeed, it left the observer wondering what the goal of the hearing was. If it was to educate the public, it utterly failed. If it was to raise awareness, it did no such thing. To the contrary, an objective observer uneducated on this topic would likely walk away believing that the trend of Islamist radicalization in U.S prisons is minute, perhaps irrelevant, and certainly not a serious threat. It might reasonably have been concluded that prison gang violence, discrimination against poor black men, a lack of rehabilitation and social injustice should have been the subject of the hearing. After all, why is Poor Peter picking on radical Muslims and not radical Jews or radical Christians? It just doesn’t seem fair. And without further explanation, it doesn’t even seem constitutional.

Confining their answers to the questions being asked by the committee’s congressmen, the witnesses were able to eke out bits and pieces of useful information. Yes, some people become radical Muslims in prison; yes, some Muslims in prison have formed or joined terrorist cells, and yes there are some inmates who want to supplant the U.S. government with Sharia law.

But without context and a clear purpose of what the hearing was intended to achieve, the viewer was left at the mercy of information elicited by congressmen who might not know much more about this subject than they do. It is conceivable that some congressmen might even have had a contrary political agenda.

This is the inevitable result when committee staff selects witnesses who are apologists for Islamism or who are unable to explain the relevance of the issue at hand. The first witness, Patrick Dunleavy, former Inspector General of the New York State Department of Corrections and author of “Fertile Soil of Jihad” (a book about Islamic radicalization in prisons) did his best to explain the problem in the five minutes allotted. The other three witnesses gave testimony counter to the conclusion that Chairman King presumably wanted the audience to conclude. Sociology Professor Bert Useem from Purdue University (the Democrats’ witness) insisted that it is impossible for prisoners to be inculcated with extremist literature in jail because such literature is prohibited (ignoring other witness testimony that this literature abounds in jails anyway). Kevin Smith, former Assistant U.S. Attorney from California, told the audience about some specific cases of terrorist cells forming in prison, but they sounded like isolated incidents. And, Michael Downing from the L.A. Police Department praised Islam as “one of the most peaceful religions in the world but it has been hijacked.” He insisted that working with the Muslim community is the best defense to countering terrorism. Additionally, he asserted that the Islamic ummah would likely be “shocked” and not proud to learn about the extremist interpretations of Islam that inmates are learning in prison. Yet, he emphasized that California jails examine “suspicious activity” and made no mention of monitoring the underlying ideology.

During the question and answer period, several congressmen used their allotted time to grandstand rather than extract information from the witnesses. Some of the performances were quite impressive. Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-Michigan) was practically in tears as he shouted that discrimination against poor black men constituted the real problem with jails and that the focus on Islamic radicalization is merely a “distraction”. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) seemed certain that criminal gangs are more of a threat to America than Islamists. Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA) and others insisted that radical Christians and radical Asians and radical every-other-group are all equal threats. Further, Richardson professed that singling out radical Muslims constitutes discrimination “based on race or religion.”

Undoubtedly, Peter King’s staff realized that criticism for holding hearings on radical Islam would be inevitable. They knew too, that there are people on both sides of this issue whose positions are fixed and cannot be swayed by congressional hearings. Their target audience should have been those in the middle who are uninformed but open-minded. Their goal should have been to educate the public and raise awareness, to present testimony that would rightly demonstrate why the Chairman’s concerns are founded. Ideally, the three witnesses selected by the Republicans would have provided facts within a framework that could have served as the basis for concurring with the Chairman’s conclusions.

The selected witnesses should have incorporated the following information into their initial presentations:

■What is the definition of radical? Is it just violence or the underlying ideology?
■Is there a difference between prisoners who might become “radical Christians” or “radical Jews” and those who become radical Muslims? Which is the largest national security threat and why?
■Is Islamic radicalism a religion as the west understands it or is it more of a political ideology? Does it make sense to single out the radicalization of Muslims as opposed to other religions?
■Can you be specific about how radical Islamist ideology is a threat to national security and freedom including freedom of religion?
■How is Islamist radicalism different from gangs and thugs? Can you place this in a national security context and tie it to the War on Terror?
■Is it possible that “credentialed Imams” are radicals as they are in the military program, established by now-jailed Alamoudi?
■Why did the 9/11 Commission single out Imams as problematic rather than all jail clergy?
■Though the number of radicalized Muslims in jail might be small, as were the 19 hijackers from 9/11, what is the risk of ignoring this problem?
■What is the process of radicalization and what can be done to prevent it?
■Is the radical Islamic ideology a problem when prisoners are released from jail?
■Can the problems that the EU is having with radical Muslims happen here in the U.S.?
Little of this was confronted in the original testimony. Of course it was appropriate for the Democrats to have a witness who does not believe that the radicalization of Muslims in prison is prevalent enough to pose a national security threat. After all, reasonable minds can differ. However, it was imperative for the Republican panel to include witnesses who would explain the dangers of radical Islam as a political ideology and to identify this underlying ideology as a threat to national security and American freedom. It was a mistake to allow Democrats to frame the issue as a prison problem rather than a national security threat. The Chairman pointed this out, but in order to have any impact, the witnesses needed to present facts and analysis that would lead the audience to the same conclusion.

Congressman Peter King should be commended for raising issues critical to the national dialogue and for having the fortitude to withstand the onslaught of criticism that he bears.

Let’s hope that in preparation for the next hearing in this series, Peter King’s staff does a better job in witness selection, obtaining subject matter expertise, and drawing out testimony that explains why Islamism is a problem in the U.S. Chairman King and the American public deserve no less.

Deborah Weiss, Esq. works for Vigilance and is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine and the American Security Council.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Britain Admits Failure of Anti-terrorism Program

By Deborah Weiss
FrontPage Magazine
June 17, 2011

After the 7/7 bombings on the London subway in 2005, the U.K. launched a 63 million pound program to combat terrorism. The program, named “PREVENT”, was recently reviewed. Subsequently, Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, admitted that the program had failed. Here’s why: The program’s strategy aimed to counter terrorist groups largely by funding so-called “moderate” Muslim organizations in an attempt to work jointly toward its goals. PREVENT also financed overseas operations that were allegedly designed to stem terrorist activity in the U.K.

As it turned out, much of the program’s money went to support non-violent radical organizations that share the same hard-line Islamist ideology as Al-Qaeda and other terrorist entities. Further, the program’s emphasis on international projects merely wasted precious pounds and “diverted valuable resources” away from the prevention of home-grown terrorism, a growing concern in the U.K.

Home Secretary May confessed that the PREVENT program clearly failed to recognize how terrorist groups make use of the extremist ideology promoted by non-violent radical organizations. Therefore, the program was unsuccessful in convincing some parts of the Muslim community that terrorism is unacceptable and wrong. Additionally, the program only targeted a small segment of the audience that is susceptible to terrorist propaganda.

As a result of the review’s findings, there will be a significant shift in the program’s direction. PREVENT’s new strategy will tackle not only terrorism, but its underlying ideology. In so doing, it will focus on non-violent extremist organizations. It will also examine how schools, colleges, and mosques are addressing the problem of Islamic extremism. It will additionally evaluate the role of law enforcement as well as that of other government entities in combating the problem.

To its credit, the U.K. government will withdraw financial support from more than twenty Muslim organizations to which it gave money in the last three years for the purpose of fighting extremism. No additional funds will be delivered to any Muslim organizations without properly vetting them first. Any Muslim organization found to oppose British values such as human rights and equality under the law, will be denied government money.

PREVENT will now monitor the prison system looking for signs of radicalization, and target prisoners newly released from jail on terrorism charges. Additionally, the program will have a renewed focus on the internet, and is considering a “national blocking list” for violent websites. Computers in schools, libraries and colleges will be barred from access to these sites.

The budget for the program’s new strategy will be 36 million pounds. The Home Secretary believes that the successful prevention of radicalism will also depend on integration of the Muslim community rather than segregation. She asserted that espousing fundamental British values and denouncing extremist ideology can also help.

Although the government will continue to arrest suspects as necessary, the emphasis of the program will be on preventing radicalization in its early stages.

The U.K. government has finally realized – perhaps too late – that it is the underlying radical ideology that must be tackled in order to get at the root cause of terrorism. When will the U.S. government learn this same lesson?
Deborah Weiss is an attorney, writer and public speaker. She works for and is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine and the American Security Council Foundation.

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Israel: Standing Alone?

By, Deborah Weiss
American Security Council
June 2, 2011

Israel celebrated her sixty-third anniversary of independence on Saturday, May 14th, 2011. The following day, May 15th, constituted the holiday Palestinians refer to as “Nakba”, which means “the catastrophe” in Arabic. It is the day in which Palestinians mourn the creation of Israel. Prior to Israel’s anniversary, 350,000 organizations and individuals signed onto a facebook page calling for a third intifada against Israel, at which time facebook finally took the page down. During the first two intifadas, Palestinians had thrown rockets across the borders into Israel, terrorizing Israeli citizens. Fatah, which had previously worked to prevent terrorism along the West Bank, announced that it if a third intifada were to occur, it could not do anything to stop it. As it turned out, the protests did not rise to the level of an intifada this year. However, Israel was still invaded with violent demonstrations from all sides – Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank.

Now, Hamas and Fatah are reconciling to form a “unity government”. It has been established that once a Palestinian unity government is formed, it will go to the UN demanding unilateral recognition of Palestine as a nation state, henceforth bypassing the peace process. In other words, Palestine would not have to negotiate with Israel regarding borders and Hamas would not withdraw its charter-required commitment to destroy Israel. If the UN grants this request, then Palestine will be able to sign onto the International Criminal Court and file criminal complaints against “Israeli aggression”. This is a legal strategy to achieve the destruction of Israel at the same time Palestinians have a strategy on the ground to attain Israel’s destruction through terrorism.

President Obama’s speech on May 19, 2011 was additional bad news for Israel. For the first time in American history, a sitting U.S. President referred to parts of Israel as “occupied territory” despite the fact that there had never been a pre-existing Palestinian state to occupy. President Obama also told Israel that she should go back to the 1967 borders. If Israel were to comply, she would be only 9 miles wide at her narrowest point and Jerusalem would be split in half. Israel would no longer control the land with the Wailing Wall of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest of sites. Moreover, such borders would give the Palestinians land that is geographically higher than that of Israel’s. This would provide Palestine with a military advantage, making it easier to proceed with maneuvers toward Israel’s destruction. Indeed, the President’s speech raises the question of whether Israel’s one friend in the world --- the U.S. --- is abandoning her in her greatest time of need.

Undoubtedly, Israel is in big trouble. In the Middle East, anti-Semitism combined with anti-Israel sentiment is the one unifying force that fractioned groups active in the “Arab Spring” have in common. Though they may differ on other issues, they are united in their hatred of Israel. Unfortunately, this sentiment is increasingly shared around the globe including Europe, where anti-Semitism is at its highest rate since World War II. And Obama isn’t helping. Nor are college campuses in the U.S. which are indoctrinating their students with anti-Israel propaganda. For example, Columbia University recently announced that it started a “Palestinian Studies” department. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Columbia already employed a professor with known terrorist ties – Khalid Rashidi. Now, he is the head of the university’s Center for Palestinian Studies.

Currently, the United States provides Fatah, the alleged "moderate Palestinian party" with approximately half a billion dollars of funding per year. However, Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the European Union. And, it is illegal to donate money to a terrorist organization. Indeed, there are people sitting in American prisons today for donating money to Hamas.

Accordingly, Democrats and Republicans in Congress are deliberating the idea of passing legislation stop funding to the unity government until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist and promises to work to stop Palestinian terrorism against Israel. However, political appointees at the State Department urge continued funding of the Palestinians. They want to take a “wait and see” attitude, claiming it is too soon to form a conclusion about how the new unity government will act.

Despite the State Department’s inclinations, the Hamas Charter is clear that it is dedicated to the total destruction of Israel -- not merely to regain what some in the west refer to as "occupied territories”. Hamas considers ALL of Israel to constitute "occupied territory". Hamas has been equally clear that its position on this will not change with the formation of the new unity government. On the contrary, Fatah is already showing signs that it is acquiescing to Hamas, by refusing to stop Palestinian invasions of Israel along the West bank during Nakba.

All this sounds like a conspiracy theory against Israel, right? If only it were. Prosecutors will tell you that some conspiracies are theories and others are fact. The existential threat against Israel could not be more real. Funding a terrorist entity is against the law. There is no exception for the U.S. government. Please contact your congressmen and senators to let them know that you do not want your tax-payer money going to support Hamas, a U.S-designated terrorist organization.

Deborah Weiss is an attorney, writer and public speaker. She works for and is a regular contributor to the American Security Council Foundation, FrontPage Magazine and The Washington Times.

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