The rise and fall of Debbie Almontaser, formerly the principal of New York City's Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) - the first Arabic-themed public school in New York City - was chronicled last week in a New York Times article by Andrea Elliott. As indicated by the headline, "Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School," Ms. Elliott (she of Pulitzer Prize fame for whitewashing the radicalism of Brooklyn Sheikh Reda Shata) finds no fault in Ms. Almontaser, who Elliott tells us is just a hapless victim of circumstance and a misdirected "right-wing" smear campaign.
In fact, Ms. Almontaser resigned from her position when she sparked a controversy defending T-shirts, produced by a company that uses offices of a company of which Almontaser is a board member, with the phrase "Intifada NYC" emblazoned on the front. Almontaser stated that Intifada merely meant "shaking off" and did not represent the common understanding of the word, that of a suicide bombing and terror campaign.
Elliott, like all of Almontaser's defenders, has hailed her as a "moderate," with a history of reaching out to the Christian and Jewish communities. And, on April 29, in the long tradition of such "moderates," Ms. Almontaser proved that she is anything but.
On the leftist radio program Democracy Now, frequent platform for the family members and supporters of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian, Ms. Almontaser embraced and defended the radical Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Talking of criticism she received from Daniel Pipes, Almontaser discussed a "community service" award she received from CAIR's NY chapter in 2005:
Well, there are many that he was able to put together by distorting quotes that I was quoted in multiple newspapers; the award, you know, from CAIR; the allegation that I'm connected, you know, to a terrorist organization such as CAIR. And quite frankly, these are all allegations that are moot and really have no basis whatsoever.
CAIR New York is one of the most prominent civil rights organizations in New York City, as well as across the country. The president of CAIR sits on the Human Rights Commission of New York City. He was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg. So if Mayor Bloomberg has no issues with working closely with CAIR, I don't see why anyone should have any issues. CAIR, unfortunately, has been targeted, because it is fighting for the civil rights of Arabs and Muslims.
While Mayor Bloomberg – who should really know better at this point - is not alone in his outreach and acceptance of various CAIR figures (and it should be said that CAIR has done a masterful job of promoting itself, as Almontaser stated, as a "prominent civil rights organization" despite its extremist track record and documented support for, and ties to terrorists,) the Department of Justice has branded CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror financing trial in U.S. history, naming the organization as part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Dallas trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
In a December court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia, federal prosecutors described CAIR as "having conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists," and also stated that "proof that the conspirators used deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists was introduced" in both the Chicago trial of two Hamas operatives in 2006 and the HLF trial in 2007.
And let's look back at the IPT's dossier on CAIR to learn more about the CAIR chapter that bestowed a community service award upon Ms. Almontaser:
On October 5, 2001, [CAIR-New York] encouraged its constituents to write letters to the The New York Times saying "two of the 19 suspects: Abdulaziz Alomari and Saeed Alghamdi could not have been on the hijacked planes because they are still alive and are working in Saudi Arabia…Last week, the father of Mohamed Atta…was interviewed on the Egyptian Satellite Arabic Channel and said that his son, Mohamed Atta, was well and alive working now in the Untied Arab Emirates!…If three of the 19 suspected ‘hijackers' are still alive, who were the other 16? The important questions are: Who is impersonating these three Muslim Arabs? Why are Muslim Arabs been (sic) implicated in this terrorism? And, who could ‘benefit' from this horrific tragedy?"
[CAIR NY Executive director Ghazi] Khankan, at a CAIR fundraiser in Vienna Va. Tow days later, asked, "Why is it assumed that Muslims were behind the attack on September 11? …We know for sure at least three (people) supposed to be hijackers, who are still alive in the Middle East. The question is, who is impersonating these Muslim names? Who benefits from assuming that Muslims are behind this tragedy, and who benefits from this tragedy?"
At no point did CAIR publicly rebuke Khankan or disassociate itself from his statements. Khankan was at it again in an Oct. 14, 2001 Newsday article. Atta, he said yet again, was alive and well in the United Arab Emirates, the victim of a stolen passport. "Yet the FBI insists he was one of the hijackers. Why hasn't the media reported this?" He insisted at least two hijackers were in Saudi Arabia in a subsequent Newsday story four days later. "I spoke with the Saudi ambassador recently and he confirmed that. So who stole their identities and for what purpose? And who really benefits from such a horrible tragedy that is blamed on Muslims and Arabs?"
In 1998, CAIR co-sponsored an extremist conference in Brooklyn, at which radical cleric Wagdy Ghoneim led the crowd in a song with the lyrics, "No to the Jews, Descendants of the Apes." CAIR officials vigorously defended Ghoneim in his deportation proceedings in Southern California years later. CAIR Southern California Executive Director Hussam Ayloush called Ghoneim's decision to voluntarily leave the U.S. rather than being kicked out as a "dent in our civil rights struggle." And CAIR's major campaign these days is on behalf of the aforementioned Al-Arian.
If Ms. Almontaser is somehow trying to rebuild her credibility by reaching out to CAIR, she has made a grave error. If there was any doubt before that Ms. Almontaser was unfit to lead a public school teaching America's children, she has put that to rest by her embrace of America's foremost Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked front group.