Jersey's Counterterror Farce
by Steven Emerson and Stephen M. Flatow
New York Post
November 12, 2007
-- THE New Jersey Department of Homeland Security's counterterrorism conference last month turned out to be a textbook case of exactly what's wrong with many U.S. counterterror and outreach efforts - a farce that had apologists for terrorism and radical Islam writing the "script" for how to protect Americans from the terrorist threat.
Consider recommendation No. 7 from the final post-conference report:
"Universities can be breeding grounds for radicalization: . . . Most agreed that radicalization is most likely to find a breeding ground in the open environments of our college campuses, and thus it is essential to involve academia in any anti-radicalization strategy."
True enough - except that a key speaker at the event was Georgetown University professor John Esposito. Esposito calls himself a "very good friend" of Sami Al-Arian - who last year pleaded guilty to a "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad" - a terrorist group.
Esposito also heads Georgetown's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding - so named after the Saudi prince gave $20 million to the school. He should be a case study in how universities can promote radicalism, not a member of a panel discussing "anti-radicalization" strategies.
The conference report is full of similar confusion. For example, finding No. 5, "Language and terminology are important," warns that the phrase "War on Terror" is a poor choice. But the complaint isn't that the phrase is too vague (or that it references a tactic, rather than our enemy) but that it "equates terrorists with warriors, when in fact terrorists are common criminals."
In other words, Jersey's anti-terror conference concluded that we're not in a war at all.
Finding No. 5 also repeats the claim that we should avoid the use of the terms "Islam" or "Muslim" when discussing the current threat, lest we play into the hands of the terrorists: "Because militant Islamist recruiters try to convince followers that Islam is under attack, we must be careful not to inadvertently feed that idea through the language we use."
Yet burying our head in the sand or refusing to name our enemies are no longer viable options. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups justify the use of suicide bombers as a divine, religious rite. It might please the PC crew to describe the enemy as mere "common criminals" or petty thieves - but Americans have a right to know and discuss the belief system driving Islamic terrorists.
Potentially most troubling is conference finding No. 8, which says the "Islamic community must be engaged in all efforts aimed at understanding and combating radicalization."
Once again, that seems fine - we should engage U.S. Muslims as part of any anti-radicalization strategy. But, just as professor Esposito should be a focus of anti-terror conferences, rather than a participant, his high-profile role in this conference renders such advice suspect.
The key is this: Whom do we see as spokesmen for the Islamic community? If Esposito is involved, it will be the likes of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Yet CAIR is linked to the radical Muslim Brotherhood and has served as a front for Hamas. And it has always sought to undermine any and every legitimate counterterrorism initiative or prosecution, painting most efforts as "anti-Muslim witch hunts" and "Zionist conspiracies."
The record from the first Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial conclusively shows that CAIR and Holy Land - along with countless other would-be spokesmen for "moderate U.S. Muslims" - have been engaged in a decade and a half of deception, masking their true goals under a false veneer of "charity" and "civil rights."
Of course, New Jersey's far from the only one to be taken in by pseudo-moderates like CAIR, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Muslim American Society. Other states, and even the FBI and State Department, partner with these groups often.
On this issue, the most sensible government agency in America may well be the New York Police Department. The NYPD recently released a groundbreaking report on home-grown radicalization - tackling the subject head on, with no room for apologetics.
Sadly, Jersey's Department of Homeland Security is much more representative - more concerned with being tarred as "Islamophobic" by fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood than with safeguarding America against terror.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Attorney Stephen M. Flatow is a N.J.-based advocate for terror victims' rights.