The Corner

Obama Official Denies Calling Hezbollah a “Liberation Movement” — Says It Is a Terrorist Organization

A couple of days ago, I posted (here) about the Obama administration’s decision to engage in official communications with the Muslim Brotherhood. In the course of recounting some of the administration’s relevant history, I wrote that “Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan (who has referred to Hezbollah as a “liberation movement”) was named assistant secretary for policy development at Obama’s Homeland Security Department.”

Mr. Alikhan has responded as follows:

Mr. McCarthy:

Your allegation in this article that I have “referred to Hezbollah as a ‘liberation movement’” is absolutely false. I have never stated, nor do I believe, that Hezbollah is a liberation movement. It is a terrorist organization and I have never made any statement to the contrary. In fact, I have spent the vast majority of my professional career as a public servant dedicated to protecting the United States from the harm that criminal and terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, seek to inflict on our country. I respectfully request that you retract this gross inaccuracy in your article.

Sincerely,
 Arif Alikhan

In referring to Mr. Alikhan, my post linked to an article in Human Events by Robert Spencer. Robert, who is a careful scholar and analyst, had written:

[I]n April 2009, Obama appointed Arif Alikhan, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, as assistant secretary for policy development at the Department of Homeland Security.  Just two weeks before he received this appointment, Alikhan (who once called the jihad terror group Hezbollah a “liberation movement”) participated in a fund-raiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

Robert is the director of Jihad Watch. There, on November 22, 2009, he posted an item about Mr. Alikhan, in which he excerpted a report, posted the same date, “by Judicial Watch via Right Side News,” which included the following:

Earlier this year President Obama appointed Arif Alikhan to be the nation’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security and Kareem Shora to the agency’s influential advisory council, which provides recommendations and advice directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Alikhan, who leads a Homeland Security team responsible for developing policy issues to secure the country against terrorism, has referred to the renowned terrorist organization Hezbollah as a “liberation movement” and was responsible for killing a Los Angeles Police project that monitored terrorist activities in the city’s notoriously radical mosques. The defunct Muslim terror tracking plan was designed to identify hotbeds of extremism in an area where several locals offered the September 11 hijackers support.

The Judicial Watch report relies on a Canada Free Press post, dated November 11, 2009, by a writer named Alan Caruba, who discussed Mr. Alikhan’s appointment to the DHS post, and stated: 

In his new job, Alikhan will be the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy Development. In his former job, he was in charge of public safety for the city and observers noted that he was responsible for derailing the LA Police Department’s plan to monitor activities and individuals within the Muslim community.

Vincent Gioia, a retired patent attorney, living in Palm Desert, California, first called this to public attention in late September on his blog. Gioia noted that Los Angeles is home to “numerous radical mosques” and where “some of the 9/11 hijackers had received support from local residents. “Alikhan is strongly anti-Israel; he has referred to the terrorist organization Hezbollah as a ‘liberation movement’” despite the fact that is on the U.S. official terrorist list.

So the quote from Mr. Gioia seems to be the root of various reports which, for two years, have asserted that Mr. Alikhan called Hezbollah a “liberation movement.” If Mr. Alikhan sought a correction of any of these reports from any of these publications, it is not apparent.

Moreover, Mr. Alikhan is variously reported to have had some sort of relationship with the Muslim Public Affairs Council. (Besides the above, see this from the Investigative Project on Terrorism and this from Jihad Watch.) MPAC’s leaders have notoriously referred to Hezbollah as a liberation movement and sought to justify Hezbollah’s 1983 Beirut bombing against the U.S. marines and navy as a “military operation” rather than a terrorist attack. I do not know the nature of Mr. Alikhan’s relationship with MPAC, but if he wants people to understand he regards Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, he ought to choose different company.

That aside, though, and the two years of reports notwithstanding, I am delighted to be able to report that Arif Alikhan has publicly, clearly and unequivocally called Hezbollah exactly what it is, a terrorist organization. I applaud him for doing so, and I wish more American Muslim leaders would follow his lead on that score.

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