An act of violence, of terrorism, shook America 40 years ago today. The assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King still reverberates as America struggles with racial politics and with terrorists - those who choose violence to achieve their political aims over King's courageous devotion to non violence.
As we pause to remember King's sacrifice, we see that the Muslim American Society (MAS) has the gall to compare a committed jihadist with Dr. King. In a news release issued Wednesday, MAS called attention to a recent prison visit with convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian.
Al-Arian was the North American leader of the PIJ network, a group responsible for gruesome suicide bombings, stabbings and mutilations of Israelis and Americans in Israel.
Al-Arian pleaded guilty in April 2006 to conspiracy to provide goods and services to the PIJ and was sentenced to 57 months in prison, after which he would be deported. But his sentence has been frozen for much of the past year and a half by contempt citations prompted by Al-Arian's refusal to comply with a grand jury subpoena in Virginia.
Last month, Al-Arian launched a hunger strike in protest of his situation. It shouldn't be a surprise to see radical Islamist organizations rally to his defense or bend the truth and omit important facts in doing so. A recent Council on American-Islamic Relations press release includes this line:
"His attorneys say an earlier plea agreement freed him from further cooperation with the government."
Sure, Al-Arian's attorneys say that. But much more importantly, there is no sign of such a provision anywhere in the plea agreement itself or in the hearing in which the plea was entered. That's why not one, but two federal appeals courts (the 4th and the 11th circuit), have ruled otherwise. As avid followers and active participants of Al-Arian's case, CAIR is very well aware of this, and just hoping that organizations and individuals in receipt of its press releases are not.
But the Muslim American Society goes further. Its press release contains this obscene comparison:
"In the tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez - Dr. Al-Arian believes the hunger strike is his only way of protesting the gross miscarriage of justice that he has been subjected to…"
Needless to say, Gandhi, Dr. King or Cesar Chavez never wrote a letter like this, soliciting funds for terrorist attacks:
... I would like to discuss with you a very important matter concerning the future of work in Palestine and the ability of the Islamic movement to confront the great challenges before it. In short, you are well aware that this movement, represented by its branches, Hamas and the Jihad, is being threatened by the enemy, the neighboring regimes, and even worldwide. Preserving the spirit and flame of jihad against the enemy is a general Islamic responsibility and cannot be left to rest upon the shoulders of the few among our nation. Nevertheless, these few shoulder the responsibility of the nation's honor, even putting their souls in their hands to prove that Islam is capable of responding to oppression, aggression, and desecration of the sacred places and Muslims' dignity.
The latest operation, carried out by the two mujahideen who were martyred for the sake of God, is the best guide and witness to what the believing few can do in the face of Arab and Islamic collapse at the heels of the Zionist enemy and in keeping the flame of faith, steadfastness, and defiance glowing.
I call upon you to try to extend true support of the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue, so that people do not lose faith in Islam and its representatives, and so that we can prove to the people and to history that Islam properly responded to the circumstances despite a difficult stage in time, and a terrible era.
The letter, written to a wealthy Kuwaiti, is signed, "Your brother, Sami Al-Arian," and dated February 10, 1995. It was found by the FBI in a raid of Al-Arian's home and offices. The "operation" in question was the Beit Lid massacre on January 22, 1995, a double suicide bombing so vicious it prompted then President Bill Clinton to sign an executive order the next day, criminalizing any donations or work on behalf of the PIJ, and several other Palestinian terrorist groups.
The Muslim American Society knows about Al-Arian's role with the PIJ, and yet they still compare Al-Arian to the giants of the non-violent protest movement, such as Gandhi and Dr. King, because they are hoping that recipients of its press releases do not know, or worse, do not care. MAS' efforts to compare Al Arian to truly great and authentic historical non-violent leaders is an affront to the families of those killed by PIJ, like American college student Alicia Flatow.
King's sacrifices were for the greater good, to bring justice and equality to American society. Al-Arian's hunger strike is all about himself--his unwillingness to testify honestly before a grand jury investigating terror financing. Al-Arian does not belong in the same sentence as Martin Luther King. Dr. King opposed violence and stood against racism, and against terrorism. MAS should be ashamed for insulting Dr. King's legacy with such an absurd comparison.
The moral clarity of this obscene comparison could not be more striking. And those groups like CAIR, MAS and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which are lobbying the House Judiciary Conmmittee to put pressure on the Department of Justice to free Al Arian, should be finally recognized for their real mission — to serve as a lobby for terrorists.