It appeared to be a typical Al-Quds Day rally, replete with hateful speeches about the destruction of the State of Israel and the waving of Hizballah flags. The rally resembled other international versions of this year's Al-Quds Day celebration, an annual Islamist holiday initiated by Iranian revolutionary and terrorism exporter, Imam Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini. However, this event – held Friday, September 18th –wasn't in downtown Karachi or Damascus, but in downtown Washington, D.C's Sheridan Circle.
The rally was organized by an employee of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning, Faheem Darab. It even featured speakers as diverse as leaders from leftist organizations, a radical Reverend and homegrown American Islamists. The event was an expression of homegrown radicalism that sprouted from the seeds of a faraway revolution in Iran and was watered by local Jihadist sentiment.
Participants were greeted at the event by the prominent yellow flags of Hizballah – a group designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In addition to this obvious display of support for a terrorist organization, the moderator of the event praised Imam Ayatollah Al-Khomeini, the initiator of Al-Quds Day and leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution. He even exhorted participants to carry posters with radical statements, including one with a quote from Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah:
Aside from the visual militancy on display at the rally, the speakers enflamed their followers with vocal calls for the destruction of Israel as well as support and justification for terrorism.
He also concluded that this would solve multiple global issues in a single move:
Finally, in a racist rant, Khan attacked President Obama for not having the courage to destroy Israel:
However, well-known terror supporters like Khan were not the only supporters of extremism to speak. A representative of the Viva Palestina movement, rapper 'Ibrahim,' graced the audience with a spoken word performance: "My mind is in the zone of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, it's so powerful, we [are] so awesome." Izz ad-Din al-Qassam is the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and Americans, and is banned under American law. He also called for another violent uprising in Israel and even the 'martyrdom' of Palestinian children.
'Ibrahim' was followed by Reverend Graylan Hagler, the Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, D.C., and National President of Ministers for Racial, Social, and Economic Justice (MRSEJ). Reverend Hagler is no stranger to preaching for the destruction of Israel at anti-Israel rallies, as this March 30, 2002 quote illustrates:
At this year's Al-Quds Day rally, Reverend Hagler discussed other forms of resistance:
Also appearing was conspiracy theorist Mauri Saalakhan, who discussed 'the Jewish lobby' and the need to continue Al-Quds Day in the memory of Iranian revolutionary Imam al-Khomenei. Saalakhan is the author of The Palestinians' Holocaust: American Perspectives, which discusses the 'Zionist' hand in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and around the world. However, in his speech this Al-Quds Day, Saalakhan was more open about his anti-Semitic sentiments:
Saalakhan also praised Imam Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution, which has become the leading exporter of terrorism around the world today:
Furthermore, Saalakhan praised attorney Bill Moffitt for his "brilliant" defense of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian and Hamas agents Muhammad Salah and Abdel Haleem al-Ashqar.
With such an abundance of hate-filled speeches and chants, including, "Zionists, Hizballah is coming for you," "Israelis committing genocide, U.S. helping on the side" and "Cancer of the Middle East, Israel must not exist," one would expect the event to have been organized by someone other than a member of the Fairfax County Department of Zoning and Planning, Faheem Darab.
Like so many Al-Quds Day rallies around the world, this event disintegrated into support for violence and terrorism. Yet unlike others, the terrorism and hate in this instance were sponsored not by a radical mullah or mosque leader, but a local public official.