SEATTLE – An ad on Seattle buses placed by the FBI that shows the faces of 16 wanted terrorists is racist, because all of the men appear to be Muslim, charges Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
McDermott is known to some critics on the right as “Baghdad Jim” for stating on Iraqi soil in the run-up to the war that he essentially trusted dictator Saddam Hussein more than President Bush, whom he called a liar. The trip later was discovered to be financed by Saddam’s intelligence agency. When Saddam was captured, the congressman accused the administration of having waited until the opportune time politically to seize the Iraqi leader.
The Seattle Weekly reports McDermott sent a letter to the FBI requesting that the agency remove an ad that shows 16 faces of Most Wanted Terrorists, who all appear to be Muslim.
McDermott, whose district covers much of the Seattle area, calls the ad “offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities,” contending it “encourages racial and religious profiling.”
He argues the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list includes people of other races and “associations with other religions and causes.”
“But their faces are missing from this campaign,” he writes.
Thirty of the 32 people listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list appear to be Muslim. The two non-Muslims are a member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army who escaped from prison after being sentenced in 1973 and an animal-rights extremist wanted for a 2003 bombing.
The congressman, who has served Washington’s 7th District for 24 years, asserts the ad will “likely only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim Americans.”
The ad by the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program announced June 4, which offers up to $25 million for information that helps stop terrorism.
The task force is an initiative of the FBI that employs the resources and skills of local law enforcement to prevent acts of terrorism and to solve terrorism cases.
A joint news release of the FBI and the State Department about the rewards program said members of Seattle’s community “have time and time again shown themselves to be concerned about protecting their families, their neighbors, and their freedom.”
“Many despicable plots from illicit drug trafficking to violent acts of terrorism have come to the FBI’s attention because vigilant Seattleites came forward with a tip,” the statement says.
McDermott traveled in 2002 to Baghdad with then-Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., and Rep. Mike Thompson, Calif., to argue against the U.S. going to war to oust Saddam.
With a Baghdad mosque in the background, the Democrat told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a television interview through a satellite link that Americans “have to take the Iraqis on their face value.”
Stephanopolous, the former top presidential aide to Bill Clinton, asked McDermott: “Before you left for Baghdad, you said the president of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war. Do you really believe that?”
At the end of a long reply, McDermott concluded: “I think the president would mislead the American people.”
Oklahoma Sen. Don Nickles, the No. 2 ranking Republican at the time, said the congressmen “sound somewhat like spokespersons for the Iraqi government.”
In 2008, a federal indictment unsealed in Detroit charged that Saddam’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers. The indictment didn’t name the lawmakers, but the dates correspond to the trip by McDermott and his two Democrat colleagues.
Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michigan nonprofit group, was charged with arranging the trip at the behest of Saddam’s regime and paying for it through an intermediary.
“Obviously we didn’t know it at the time,” McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare told the Associated Press. “The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That’s the only reason we went.”
McDermott was accompanied on the Baghdad trip by an Iraqi-American businessman who admitted to financial ties with Saddam’s regime. In 2004, McDermott returned a $5,000 contribution the Iraqi made to the congressman’s campaign fund.
Former FBI officials told WND in 2003 that Bonior previously hampered FBI efforts to investigate terrorist suspects in Detroit, which became a hotbed for al-Qaida sympathizers and cells.
‘Bush timed Saddam capture for political advantage’
In December 2003, after American forces captured Saddam, McDermott told a Seattle radio interviewer that the U.S. could have captured the Iraqi dictator “a long time ago if they wanted.”
KIRO radio’s Dave Ross asked McDermott whether the capture was timed to help President Bush.
“Yeah. Oh, yeah. There’s too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing,” McDermott said.
Ross, who made an unsuccessful run for Congress as a Democrat, pressed further to be sure he understood McDermott’s point.
“I don’t know that it was definitely planned on this weekend,” the congressman said, “but I know they’ve been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they’d find him.
“It’s funny, when they’re having all this trouble,” he said, “suddenly they have to roll out something.”