The Investigative Project on Terrorism is among those who are critical of new guidelines discouraging the use of terms like "Islamist" and "jihad" when discussing terrorism and extremism that were issued earlier this year by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center.
While the agencies argue that the words may boost the popularity of terrorists among Muslim radicals, it's a bad idea to hide the motivations behind those who seek to attack the United States, or innocent people around the world. Another weakness was exposed last month, when the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) attacked California Congressman Ed Royce (R-Orange County) for using the term "Islamist terrorism."
In an article posted on its website Sept. 10, CAIR engages in the kind of hyperbolic rationalization it routinely accuses others of using against it. The article describes a letter to Royce from 22 religious leaders of various faiths and community activists. The website article quotes Sharaf Mowjood, identified as CAIR-Los Angeles Government Relations Coordinator, claiming that the DHS language is meant to prevent future terrorist attacks. "So if Royce cares about preventing the next terrorist attack, maybe he should follow what the DHS says," Mowjood said.
Even by CAIR's standards, Mowjood's comment is inane. Stop calling people names and they'll stop attacking you? That might work on the third-grade playground, but hurt feelings aren't driving Osama bin Laden or those attracted to his cause. When he declared war on the United States in 1998, our nomenclature wasn't mentioned. Rather, he listed a series of grievances that he saw justifying his jihad against America, including the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. He also provided religious justification for his fight:
"The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.'" (Emphasis added)
By the same token, charters for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad draw heavily from religious texts and interpretations. And all three vow to impose Sharia – Islamic law – once they ascend to power. Somehow, it's supposed to be good policy not to discuss that in polite company.
In the article, CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush says religious motivations behind terrorist attacks shouldn't be considered.
"The fact remains, we don't describe extremist Israeli settlers who target Palestinian civilians as 'Jewish terrorists' nor abortion clinic bombers as 'Christian terrorists' -- and rightly so. No faith should be falsely associated with the criminal behavior of a few. Not Islam, not Judaism, not Christianity."
Such a sensitive man, Hussam Ayloush. He says he doesn't describe Israeli settlers who target Palestinian civilians as "Jewish terrorists." But he does call Israelis "zionazis." In a 2002 email, Ayloush wrote, "Indeed, the zionazis are a bunch of nice people; just like their nazi brethren! It is just that the world keeps making up lies about them! It is so unfair."
The bottom line is, once you think your God sanctions the murder of innocents, your terrorism is wed to your faith, no matter what it may be. So while we're on the subject, Baruch Goldstein, who slaughtered 29 Palestinians at prayer before he was killed, was a Jewish terrorist. He was a member of Meir Kahane's Kach party, which President Clinton labeled as terrorist organization in 1995.
Would those sending Congressman Royce the letter disagree? Noting Royce's seat as ranking Republican on the House Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the letter suggested he should yield to the DHS guidelines. They are "more effective at isolating extremists and removing the false claim of religiosity they seek to justify their barbaric actions."
Meanwhile, the folks at Anti-CAIR report that Ayloush's paranoia hunt continued this week, when he sent a letter to Irvine, Cal. City Council member Steven Choi. The letter accused Choi of slurring CAIR during a recent candidate forum in a manner "tantamount to public defamation."
Choi's sin? He called CAIR a "dangerous Islamic organization."
In an interview Friday afternoon, Choi said he made his remarks after researching CAIR's history and seeing a number of other public officials express concern about the group. One of the candidates for Irvine's council, Todd Gallinger, is an attorney who has represented CAIR, Choi said. That made CAIR's radicalism relevant at the forum.
However, he said CAIR and others are twisting his comments to make it appear he condemned Muslims in general and not the organization. He said he has no intention of responding to CAIR's letter.
If a national political organization was founded by members of a secret committee created to help a terrorist group, if their officials admit the need to lie to Americans about their true objectives, does that make them dangerous?
California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore rallied to Choi's defense with a posting of his own in which he details why CAIR's denials about a link to Hamas aren't credible.
There is no dispute that CAIR's founders Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad participated in a secret meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee in 1993. It was called to discuss ways to "derail" the Oslo peace effort. Ahmad, now CAIR's chairman emeritus, actually called the meeting to order (page 10). And, in that meeting, Ahmad and others discuss the need to mislead Americans (page 14):
Omar Ahmad: We've always demanded the 1948 territories. I mean, we demanded …
Unidentified Speaker: Yes, but we don't say that publicly. You cannot say it publicly. In front of the Americans…
Omar Ahmad: No, we didn't say that to the Americans.
These transcripts have been in the public domain for more than a year. CAIR has yet to answer to them. Instead, its representatives like Ayloush lash out at those who have read them and use them as a basis to draw conclusions about the organization.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, is documented to have duck DNA, pasting a tail and whiskers on it won't make it a cat. CAIR can call itself a "prominent Islamic civil rights organization" all it wants, it's still part of the Palestine Committee for the Muslim Brotherhood with major ties to Hamas.