There is anger and outrage over the failure of the FBI to stop the September 11 terrorist attacks. But these were not homegrown terrorists. They were foreigners sent to attack our nation. If a group of American citizens had perpetrated this horrendous crime, both here and abroad attention would be focused on why they did it and what might be done to eliminate the root cause. The root cause of 9/11 was anti-Americanism abroad and our failure to find the hate-driven terrorists and block their plans.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said on June 5, “Our biggest problem is we have people we think are terrorists. They are supporters of al Qaeda. They may have sworn jihad, they may be here in the United States legitimately and they have committed no crime. And what do we do for the next five years? Do we surveil them? Some action has to be taken.” Speaking at West Point, President Bush said terror cells exist in 60 countries or more. Some countries have taken action against them, but the United Nations admits that 40 or so countries have not taken the elementary step of blocking terrorist access to financial resources and that some unnamed nations have refused to cooperate in any way.
Syria has just been voted president of the U.N. Security Council, the U.N.‘s highest ranking body. Not only does Syria harbor terrorist groups, it has 25,000 troops occupying Lebanon in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution guaranteeing that country’s sovereignty and political independence. The London Times reports that, under the cover of the U.N.-authorized oil-for-food program, Syria is sending tanks, air-defense equipment, missile-guidance systems and surface-to-air missiles to Iraq.
A Syrian-based group, Islamic Jihad, took responsibility for the recent bus bombing in Israel in which 17 Israelis were killed. But many news organizations neglected to mention that it is headed by Ramadan Shallah, who lived several years in Florida and was a professor at the University of South Florida. As detailed by Steven Emerson, author of American Jihad, Shallah’s connections to Islamic Jihad go back to the 1970s in Egypt. He moved to London in 1986 before coming to the U.S. in the 1990s. On two occasions he was invited to brief U.S. military officers at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, where Operation Enduring Freedom is being planned and coordinated today.
As we reported in the AIM Report (2002 #8) , the University of South Florida also harbored Palestinian Professor Sami “Osama” al-Arian, who solicited funds for Islamic Jihad. A tenured professor, al-Arian was put on paid leave following an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he appeared evasive in response to questions from Bill O’Reilly about his alleged ties to terrorists. He is a founder of two groups described by federal authorities as fronts for Islamic Jihad.
Al-Arian sponsored Shallah to come to this country. He claims he wasn’t aware of his terrorist background. Al-Arian is a permanent resident of the U.S who has been here since 1975. He has been under investigation since 1995, but the FBI has never charged him with a crime. Al-Arian has written letters soliciting contributions to organizations linked to the terrorists, but he remains free to travel around the U.S. defending other Muslims detained after 9/11. Recognizing the danger, Attorney General Ashcroft has announced a new plan to do fingerprint checks on foreigners from terrorist countries entering the U.S., but the U.N., the ACLU and Arab-American groups are opposing it.
Some of the response abroad to 9/11 indicates that the anti-Americanism which gave rise to the tragedy is not limited to the Arab or Muslim countries. But our own media tend to excuse, rather than expose it. This is especially true of coverage of the U.N., which has long been notorious for its anti-American bias.
President Bush’s exchange in France with NBC News correspondent David Gregory over the protests that greeted the president in Europe was an example of a reporter for a major American news organization aiding the anti-Americans. Protesters march to get publicity for a cause, but the numbers that protested against President Bush on his European trip were not impressive. Nevertheless, at Bush’s news conference with President Jacques Chirac in France, Gregory asked, “I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration? Why, particularly, there’s a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America’s will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East and where the war on terrorism goes next?” Turning to President Chirac, Gregory added in French, “And, Mr. President, would you maybe comment on that?”
The question and response got more publicity in this country than the protests had attracted. Irritated, President Bush responded, “The guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he’s intercontinental.” Gregory tried again, “Sir, if I could just follow—” “Thank you,” Bush shot back as he answered the question and then silenced Gregory. As Bush stepped away from the podium, he called to Gregory: “As soon as you get in front of a camera, you start showing off.” But New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd saw it differently, complaining that Bush had a “hissy fit” over “a legitimate question” about European anger with America.
In terms of numbers of protesters, the question was much ado about nothing. The demonstrators numbered a mere 4,500 in Paris and 300 in Moscow. Some 20,000 turned out in Berlin. Chirac rightly dismissed them as marginal. Anti-American-ism does exist in Europe, but for an American reporter to interpret those numbers as evidence of strong popular sentiment against Bush and his administration was an illogical stretch.
A far better question would have dealt with what France and our other allies are doing to bring to justice to those responsible for the 9/11 attack. Attending a church service with Chirac in the French town which was the first to be liberated from German occupation in 1944, Bush spoke about the U.S.-led war against terrorism. Chirac said France was grateful for American soldiers who “shed their blood on a soil that was not their own,” and that the U.S. could now count on France’s support following 9/11.
The U.S. says France has sent 15 people to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. The French have deployed aircraft and limited naval forces to support the war or distribute aid to Afghan refugees. In Afghanistan itself, French aircraft have conducted combat missions and French soldiers have helped construct runways and tents. A couple hundred French troops are providing security in an Afghan city but are not engaged in direct combat on the ground, but the French government has refused to authorize French participa-tion in some allied combat missions.
The modesty of the French contribution has inspired a satirical commentary posted on several Internet sites, reporting that French intellectuals were going to be deployed to Afghanistan to “convince the Taliban of the non-existence of God.” It stated that, “The ground war in Afghanistan heated up yesterday when the Allies revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into the country to destroy the morale of Taleban zealots by proving the non-existence of God. Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or ‘Black Berets,’ will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Paris’s Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of pavement cafes at strategic points near the front lines. There they will drink coffee and talk animatedly about the absurd nature of life and man’s lonely isolation in the universe.”
The French response to the arrest of a French citizen, Zacarias Moussaoui, has not been so amusing. He has been indicted as the intended 20th hijacker and is facing the death penalty in the U.S. France has extended consular protection for him, and the French Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu has demanded that he not be executed. She said she will not refuse to hand over to U.S. authorities documents they requested, but that she will try to prevent their being used in support of the call for the death penalty. She said that each document will be treated “case by case,” and that none has yet been turned over to Washington.
Moussaoui was being monitored by French authorities and was on a French watch list of Islamic extremists. He moved to London and traveled to Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan before coming to the U.S. He was detained on immigration violations, but came into the U.S. under the visa waiver program for citizens of countries that are our allies.
In a column comically entitled “Attack France,” Ann Coulter noted that the French have a cowardly record in fighting terrorism. “At the 1972 Olympics, Muslim terrorists assassinated 11 Israeli athletes and one German policeman,” she pointed out. “Five years later, acting on intelligence from Israeli secret police, French counterespionage agents arrested the reputed mastermind of the massacre, Abu Daoud. Both Israel and West Germany sought the extradition of Daoud. Afraid of upsetting Muslim terrorists, France refused on technical grounds and set him free.
“In 1986, Libyan agents of Moammar Gadhafi planted a bomb in a West Berlin discotheque, killing an American serviceman and a Turkish woman. Hundreds more were injured. President Reagan retaliated with air strikes against Libyan military targets-including Gadhafi’s living quarters. Quaking in the face of this show of manly force, France denied America the use of its airspace.”
In 1999, a French court sentenced six Libyans, including Gadhafi’s brother-in-law, to life imprisonment in absentia for the 1989 bombing of French UTA flight 772 that killed all 171 passengers and crew, including seven U.S. citizens. The plane exploded in mid-air at a time of high tension between Libya and France over Chad, where the two countries’ armies clashed in the 1970s and 1980s.
French prosecutors had argued that Gadhafi himself enjoyed diplomatic immunity and could not be prosecuted for his role in the crime. A lower court had stripped Gadhafi of diplomatic immunity but on March 14, 2001, France’s highest court ruled for Gadhafi, saying he was safe from trial in France.
The U.S. record isn’t that much better. Despite an international conviction of a Gadhafi lieutenant in the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing that killed 270 people (including 189 Americans), the State Department has tried to arrange a financial settlement with the families of the victims that includes no admission of responsibility for Gadhafi’s or the Libyan government’s role in the crime.
Acting on a tip from the CIA, French agents seized the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal in Sudan in 1994. He was brought to France and tried for murder in shootings, bombings and other acts of terrorism that the authorities accused him of committing on French soil and against French institutions. He was charged with killing two French counter-terrorist opera-tives and an alleged informer in 1975. His real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez. The son of a Venezuelan Communist lawyer, he was named Ilich in honor of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and was sent to Moscow for training. Ramirez was also reportedly given guerrilla training in Cuba and worked for the Soviet KGB.
Now serving a life sentence in France for those 1975 murders in France, he converted to Islam and gives interviews to the French press denouncing America and Israel. He told the France Soir newspaper that he felt “relief” at the September 11 attacks on America. In 1998, Ramirez told France Soir that he wished good luck to Osama bin Laden, who had been indicted for the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. His wife, Magdalena Kopp, was a former member of another terrorist group, the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, also known as the Red Army Faction. However, Ramirez, now 52, is planning to marry Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, his lawyer, who describes him as “an exceptionally warm man.” She recently announced that she will be representing Zacarias Moussaoui, saying, “I am a French lawyer, he is French. So I am going to do everything in my power to ensure his rights as a French citizen.”
Gaullist Jacques Chirac recently was re-elected president of France, decisively defeating Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the right-wing National Front, in a run-off election. Le Pen made the run-off by beating out Premier Lionel Jospin, whose Socialist party and its left-wing allies were overwhelmingly defeated in the legislative elections on June 16, shifting control of the National Assembly to Chirac and his allies. Le Pen shocked the French establishment by getting 17 percent of the votes in the presidential run-off election, running on a platform that included ending legal immigration, deporting illegal immigrants, eliminating dual nationality, giving French citizens priority for all jobs and public housing, funding 200,000 new prison beds, restoring the teaching of morality in schools, outlawing abortion and ending official recognition of same-sex unions.
The shock waves were not confined to France. Le Pen was portrayed throughout much of Euroope and in the United States as well as an anti-Semite and the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. French voters were urged to “vote for the crook not the fascist.” “Crook” referred to Chirac, who had been under investigation for misuse of public funds both as mayor of Paris and as president. The measures Le Pen advocated with respect to immigration and crime, which has been exacerbated by the number of immigrants from third-world countries, have had an appeal to voters in Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. In Austria, Jorg Haider’s anti-immigrant Austrian Freedom Party has been part of a conservative coalition government for over two years. The Netherlands was stunned in May by the assassination of Pim Fortuyn, the homosexual head of an anti-immigration party that had won control of Rotterdam and was expected to win enough votes in the May 15 general election to enter a coalition government. (The election was postponed because of the assassination.) Denmark, where immigrants comprise seven percent of the population, has withdrawn the welcome mat for asylum seekers. Those who are rejected are expelled after only 15 days and those who are admitted are denied welfare benefits for seven years.
Our immigration laws and the INS, the agency charged with enforcing them, are in desperate need of repair. But part of the problem stems from the lax immigration policy of our neighbor to the north, Canada, our long-time ally and friend. Months after 9/11, our borders with Canada are still open to potential terrorists. On April 28, 60 Minutes aired a segment narrated by Steve Kroft on how Canada serves as a staging ground for terrorists who want to kill Americans. David Harris, former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told Kroft, “We’ve established through our intelligence service and other means that we have 50 terrorist organizations now on our soil?They range in scope from the IRA to Hezbollah, Hamas?[and] certainly al-Qaeda.” He said their members could easily slip into the U.S. across the undefended 5,500-mile border.
Joe Bissett, former executive director of Canada’s Immigration Service, said, “We have the most generous refugee system in the world.” He pointed out that since 9/11, Canada had accepted 15,000 “refugees” and of those, 2,500 came from terrorist countries such as Algeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Ninety-five percent of foreigners claiming refugee status are immediately allowed to settle in the country, even though half of them have no identification. They can destroy any identification papers they may have, making it impossible to verify their claims that they qualify for asylum. They are immediately eligible to work and to draw welfare benefits.
The security problem has also been dramatically portrayed in a book, Waging War From Canada, copies of which were confiscated at the border by Canadian Customs officials. The author, who writes under the pseudonym Mike Pearson and lives in Canada, says that terrorists can freely enter Canada by simply claiming to be refugees and he outlines the four basic schemes they use to enter the country. The National Post of Canada reported that when the American publisher tried to ship two crates of the book to Canada, one was confiscated and one disappeared. The paper said the book draws on public sources ranging from congressional hearings to National Post articles and think-tank reports. It bluntly criticizes the conditions that make Canada a haven for terrorists who are free to come here.
One of them, Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian who planned to bomb the Los Angeles airport at the beginnng of the year 2000, became a Canadian by using a fake student card and a forged baptismal certificate. He was caught at the border by a U.S. Customs official who found explosives in the trunk of his car.
A Gallup Poll showing that most people in the Arab/Islamic world dislike America and President Bush was the subject of numerous stories and commentaries. Other polls-about what Americans think-have been conveniently overlooked. One revealed that Saudi Arabia had suffered a sharp decline in its image in the U.S. It said, “Most dramatic is a decline in Americans’ view of Saudi Arabia, the home to several of the Sept. 11 hijackers, as well as Osama bin Laden.” Last year at this time, 47% of Americans had a favorable view of Saudi Arabia, 46% had an unfavorable view. This year, attitudes tilt sharply negative, with only 27% favorable and 64% unfavorable.
That may help explain why influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was invited to Saudi Arabia to have a long conversation with Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of the country. Friedman produced a column featuring Abdullah’s regret for the events of 9/11 and the unveiling of his Middle East peace plan.
MSNBC foreign correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot wasn’t treated so well. He was not only threatened but detained and roughed up by police in Saudi Arabia, where he had been promised free access to sources of information. At the same time that Saudi Arabia had launched an advertising blitz in the U.S. claiming it was a friend of America, Arnot was being terrorized by security officials who confiscated tapes he had taken of people and events in the country. Before taking a flight from one Saudi city to another, a security official found film footage on his digital video camera and pictures of an anti-Arab e-mail received by an Arab newspaper. One contained an animated cartoon of a man relieving himself on the Saudi flag. “This is a very serious offense,” said the official, a “capital offense.” Arnot said the official then ordered everyone on the flight off the airplane.
Arnot said the passengers, some in tears, others angry, “sat for more than five hours as officials bargained with me for my freedom. Each promise they made, they broke.” Not only did they take his videotapes, but they also took his laptop computer. “They opened every file, ever single program on it, all my notes, pictures of my children and my recently deceased father. At the end, another official made me repeat the process. Finally, they said I could leave. But as I returned to the airplane, there was one more demand: They wanted my laptop. They took my $5,000 Apple G-4, on which I do my video editing and store all my scripts. As I boarded the plane, I was given a long handwritten note and asked to sign it. It was written in Arabic script. I wrote at the bottom, ‘Cannot read under duress.’ With that, I was finally free.”
Hollywood has now joined the ranks of those wanting to protect radical Islamic terrorists from a bad press. Under political pressure, the terrorists who detonate a nuclear bomb in Baltimore in the new movie, “The Sum of All Fears,” were changed into European neo-Nazis. The villains in the Tom Clancy book behind the movie included Arabs and Muslims. Clancy was quoted as saying that some thought was given to changing the villains into right-wing militia members.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has claimed responsibility for the change, saying it had been in contact with Paramount Pictures and Mace Neufeld, the film’s original director, to discuss the portrayal of Muslim characters in the film. Phil Alden Robinson, who became the new director of the film, assured CAIR that Muslims would not be depicted as terrorists, unlike the novel. Robinson said that he had “no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs.”
CAIR board Chairman Omar Ahmad said he was pleased by Robinson’s decision not to include negative characterizations of Muslims in his film. Ahmad said that he hoped Robinson’s actions would “set a precedent” for others in the film industry. In 1998, CAIR led a campaign against the 20th Century Fox film “The Siege.” The film was set in Brooklyn, NY, and involved a series of terrorist bombings by Muslims that prompted the American military to declare martial law and carry out a mass arrest of American Muslims and Arab-Americans. CAIR said this film included negative stereotypes of Muslims. But the fact is that on September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists staged attacks on buildings in New York and the Washington, D.C. area, killing 3000 people, and leading to the arrests of hundreds of Muslims and Arab-Americans.
CAIR has also filed suit against media giant AOL, demanding that it prohibit insults and other “harassment” against Muslims on Internet chat rooms. One objectionable statement was, “I know Islam is false.” CAIR said such chatter constitutes religious discrimination under the 1964 civil rights act.
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