The Corner

The Trouble with Islamic Outreach


I wonder if the FBI will be inviting Hatem Abudayyeh to tour the government’s most sensitive anti-terrorism facilities, snoop around the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center, and maybe even pop by the FBI training center in Quantico. Surely he’d be a splendid addition to the Bureau’s next six-week “Citizen’s Academy,” where he could ask our agents searching questions about their investigative practices and anti-terrorism policies.

Oh, sure, he may be at the center of a federal grand-jury investigation in Chicago. And yes, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports, the selfsame FBI, armed with a search warrant, did just finish raiding Abudayyeh’s home last week, apparently seeking evidence tying Abudayyeh to support for terrorist organizations. But what’s the big whoop? After all, Mr. Abudayyeh “has never been convicted of a crime and never [been] charged with a crime.”

According to Ross Rice, top flack for the FBI’s Chicago field office, that’s the Bureau’s new gold standard. Yes, you may be a cog in the terror-support wheel. You may be virulently anti-American and committed to the destruction of Israel. But if we haven’t indicted you yet, you’re okay in our book — c’mon in and see what we’ve got.

To be fair, Bureau spokesman Rice wasn’t talking about Abudayyeh. He was speaking instead of Kifah Mustapha. Sheikh Mustapha is a recent graduate of the Citizen’s Academy, where he got the full lowdown on our nation’s most sensitive domestic-security locations and practices. Prior to that, Mustapha was best known to the government as “unindicted co-conspirator no. 31” in the most significant terrorism-financing case ever brought by the Justice Department: the Holy Land Foundation prosecution in which several of the sheikh’s confederates were convicted of sending millions of dollars to Hamas.

It was in the HLF case that the government revealed the FBI’s discovery of documents proving an Islamist conspiracy to “destroy” the U.S. “from within” by means of “sabotage.” The trove in question, describing what conspirators called their “civilization jihad,” had been seized from the home of a top Muslim Brotherhood operative. The Brotherhood’s top U.S. priority, the documents showed, was to support the terrorist operations of Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, which is — the government has declared and Hamas’s own charter brays — dedicated to the annihilation of Israel.

The Brotherhood coordinated Hamas support in the U.S. through an outfit called the Islamic Association of Palestine. The IAP and other Brotherhood fronts set up the HLF to be Hamas’s American piggy bank. As terrorism analyst Patrick Poole recounts, Mustapha was the registered agent of the HLF in Illinois. The purported “Islamic charity” paid him more than $154,000 for his efforts between 1996 and 2000. Moreover, at the HLF trial, an FBI agent testified that Mustapha sang in an HLF-sponsored band that regularly featured songs dedicated to killing Jews and glorifying Hamas.

What a guy! Obviously, the Brotherhood thought so. Mustapha was soon made the imam of the infamous Bridgeview mosque in Chicago. As the Chicago Tribune observed in a probing 2004 report, that mosque’s leaders “are men who have condemned Western culture, praised Palestinian suicide bombers and encouraged members to view society in stark terms: Muslims against the world.” They also exhorted Muslims to resist “melting into American society, culture and lifestyle,” executing the Brotherhood’s “voluntary apartheid” strategy of establishing Muslim enclaves throughout the West, to be governed by Islam’s authoritarian sharia law. Bridgeview’s Muslim community became a bastion of Hamas support. Indeed, upon being captured by Israeli forces for funding Hamas, a Chicago academic and Hamas operative named Muhammad Salah confessed that he’d been recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood at the Bridgeview mosque.

PAGE Mustapha’s participation in the Citizen’s Academy so soon after his identification as an unindicted co-conspirator has been a source of supreme embarrassment to the FBI. At first, outraged citizens who called the Bureau’s Washington headquarters to complain were told that reports of Mustapha’s inclusion in a sensitive-access FBI program were false — and even that a picture showing Mustapha with other participants (see Pat Poole’s Big Peace report) must have been photo-shopped. Alas, that story had a couple of holes: The class picture was an official Bureau photo and the class had been covered by a local ABC correspondent who remembered the sheikh quite well.

Thus came explanation number two: Yes, Mustapha was there, and yeah, maybe that means we took a Hamas supporter through a few top-secret locations, but don’t look at us — blame Chicago. Headquarters thus started referring irate callers to the Chicago field office, where Mr. Rice now labors through explanation number three: Sheikh Mustapha is our guy.

Come again? Rice dutifully explains that if the Feebs had really thought the unindicted Hamas coconspirator “was a security risk, we wouldn’t have included him.” But he was included because “he is a very influential leader of the Palestinian community here and imam of the largest mosque and was a welcome addition.”

Of course he was. After all, the “Citizen’s Academy” is part of the federal government’s top national-security priority. Would that be choking off Muslim support for terrorism? Surely you jest. Our principal objective is “Muslim outreach.”

That’s why you might find Hatem Abudayyeh down there at Quantico any time now. Sure, he may be caught up in an investigation of terrorism support, but why should that make a difference? Mustapha was not just suspected; the Justice Department actually went to the trouble of designating him as a coconspirator and proving his Hamas ties in its case against the HLF. As far as the FBI’s Chicago field office was concerned, that makes him an asset and puts him at the head of the class.

Plus, Abudayyeh already has an even more prestigious credential: He’s been through White House Muslim outreach. As Josh Gerstein explains, Abudayyeh was among a select group invited to the White House in April for a briefing by the Office of Public Engagement on what the Obama administration says involved issues of “concern” for the Arab American community.

Clearly, Abudayyeh is very concerned about such matters. That’s why, for example, he strenuously objected in a 2006 interview to the American description of “Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations as ‘terrorists.’” Instead, “the real terrorists are the governments and military forces of the U.S. and Israel.”

Sounds like an ideal “outreach” partner, no?

By the way, it is sentiments like those that landed Abudayyeh at the Arab-American Action Network, where he is currently executive director. Why does that get you a White House briefing? Well, it probably helps that the AAAN was founded by President Obama’s good friends Mona and Rashid Khalidi. That would be the Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, the guy who used to be Yasser Arafat’s mouthpiece.

Did I mention that the AAAN got started with seed money from the far-left Woods Foundation — whose board members at the time included former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and his friend, a Chicago community organizer turned pol named Barack Obama?

There’s nothing like outreach.

– Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.


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