In characteristic MPAC style, when called by terrorism researcher Steven Emerson on her work for al-Talib, Ms. Lekovic first totally denied having any association with the publication and accused Emerson of mudslinging. Soon, though, she grudgingly conceded that she might have “briefly worked” at al-Talib, but insisted that Emerson had distorted her views and associated her with “sentiments that I in no way support, and that are antithetical to the work I do day in and day out in the service of my community and my country.”
So Emerson’s organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, undertook to scrutinize her claims. IPT found that Lekovic’s “brief” affiliation with al-Talib had actually spanned nearly five years, from late 1997 through mid-2002. In fact, during much of that time, she had been al-Talib’s managing editor — a position she proudly listed in her bio in late 2001 for the program distributed at an MPAC conference, “The Rising Voice of Moderate Muslims.” The IPT’s examination further showed that she had been listed as an editor in al-Talib editions that featured articles suggesting that the horror of the Holocaust had been exaggerated and that Omar Abdel Rahman (the “Blind Sheikh”) had been tortured in federal prison, where he was serving a life sentence because, according to al-Talib, he had been “falsely accused” of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In October 2000, MPAC hosted a rally in Washington’s Lafayette Park at which Abdurahman Alamoudi — then regarded in Washington as another “moderate” Muslim leader — was featured as a speaker. To often raucous applause, Alamoudi asserted, “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody supports Hamas here? [Crowd cheers responsively] . . . Hear that, Bill Clinton? We are ALL supporters of Hamas. Allahu Akhbar! I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah!”
A few weeks later, MPAC co-sponsored another anti-Israel rally, organized by its then–political director, Mahdi Bray. As detailed in an IPT profile of MPAC, the rally’s master of ceremonies led protesters in an Arabic chant: “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya Yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud!” — meaning, “Oh Jews, remember Khaybar; the army of Mohammed is returning!” Especially popular with Hamas supporters, this chant alludes to a seventh-century massacre and expulsion by Muslims of a Jewish tribe in Khaybar, a town in what today is Saudi Arabia.
As the rally proceeded, Bray played the tambourine as one of the speakers sang with the crowd, “al-Aqsa [mosque, in Jerusalem] is calling us, ‘Let’s all go into jihad, and throw stones in the face of the Jews!’” A prominent Hamas operative, Abdelhaleem al-Ashqar, took the podium to argue that Muslims had “exclusive rights over Jersualem” that were “not subject to negotiation.” Ashqar was later sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment for obstructing a grand-jury investigation of Hamas. Mohammed al-Asi, an open Hezbollah supporter who also spoke at the rally, urged that speakers “should be concentrating on militarizing the Muslim public. . . . Rhetoric is not going to liberate al-Quds [Jerusalem] and al-Aqsa [mosque]. Only carrying arms will do this task!” Posters calling for “Death to Israel” and equating the Star of David with the Nazi swastika were openly displayed at the rally, and the crowd burned the Israeli flag while marching from the White House to the State Department.