In a wide ranging interview, Attorney General Eric Holder warned of the immediate need to combat the threat of homegrown Islamic extremism, stating he is alarmed by the rise in the number of Americans willing to carry out terrorist attacks.
However, the Obama administration has maintained close relationships with radical Muslim organizations, many tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate. Al-Qaida, Hamas and other terrorist organizations are offshoots of the Brotherhood.
Also, Obama and White House officials long have been accused of minimizing Islamic extremism, including recent attacks carried out by U.S. Muslims.
Holder told ABC News yesterday: “It is one of the things that keeps me up at night. You didn’t worry about this even two years ago – about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And – that is of – of great concern.
“The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens – raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born,” he said.
Still, the Obama administration has been legitimizing Islamic organizations of questionable character.
One of those organizations is the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, a radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas.
ISNA’s extensive relationship with the Obama administration started even before Obama took office in 2009. One week before Obama’s presidential inauguration, Sayyid Syeed, national director of ISNA’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, was part of a delegation that met with the directors of Obama’s transition team. The delegation discussed a request for an executive order ending “torture.”
ISNA President Ingrid Mattson represented American Muslims at Obama’s inauguration, where she offered a prayer during the televised event. Mattson also represented ISNA at Obama’s annual Ramadan dinners at the White House, including in August, where Obama expressed support for the rights of an Islamic organization, the Cordoba Initiative, to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the area known as Ground Zero.
American Muslims ‘never’ to be profiled
Meanwhile, last February, ISNA sponsored a question-and-answer session with Obama’s top adviser on counter-terrorism, John Brennan.
At that session, which took place at New York University, Brennan announced the Obama administration was working to calibrate policies in the fight against terrorism that ensure Americans are “never” profiled.
“We need to be looking at ourselves as individuals. Not the way we look or the creed we have or our ethnic background. I consider myself a citizen of the world,” he said.
Brennan told the audience the Obama administration is trying to “make sure that we as Americans can interact in a safe way, balance policies in a way that optimizes national security but also optimizes the opportunity in this country never to be profiled, never to be discriminated against.”
Many counter-terrorism officials believe profiling is necessary to ensure U.S. security, but liberal and human rights groups largely oppose the practice.
Brennan came under fire by conservative pundits after a video of his NYU session surfaced on the Internet, although his remarks about profiling went largely unnoticed.
At the session, Brennan stated that having a percentage of terrorists released by the U.S. return to terrorist attacks “isn’t that bad,” since the recidivism rate for inmates in the U.S. prison system is higher.
He also criticized parts of the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 as a “reaction some people might say was over the top in some areas” that “in an overabundance of caution [we] implemented a number of security measures and activities that upon reflection now we look back after the heat of the battle has died down a bit we say they were excessive, OK.”
‘Burn down the master’s house’
ISNA is known for its enforcement of Saudi-style Islam in mosques throughout the U.S. It was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in its case against the Holy Land Foundation in Texas, which was found guilty in 2008 of raising money for the Hamas terrorist organization. Last year, Holy Land founders were given life sentences for “funneling $12 million to Hamas.
Discover the Networks notes ISNA, through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust – a Saudi government-backed organization – reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada.
“Thus the organization can freely exercise ultimate authority over these houses of worship and their teachings,” states DTN.
ISNA was founded in 1981 by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students’ Association. The two groups are still partners. WND previously attended an MSA event at which violence against the U.S. was urged by speakers.
“We are not Americans,” shouted one speaker, Muhammad Faheed at Queensborough Community College in 2003. “We are Muslims. [The U.S.] is going to deport and attack us! It is us versus them! Truth against falsehood! The colonizers and masters against the oppressed, and we will burn down the master’s house!”
ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document – “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” – as one of the Brotherhood’s likeminded “organizations of our friends” who shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation, according to Discover the Networks.
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States.”
According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, ISNA “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation” that publishes a bi-monthly magazine, Islamic Horizons, that “often champions militant Islamist doctrine.” The group also “convenes annual conferences where Islamist militants have been given a platform to incite violence and promote hatred.” Emerson cites an ISNA conference in which al-Qaida supporter and PLO official Yusuf Al Qaradhawi was invited to speak.
Emerson further reports that in September 2002, a full year after 9/11, “speakers at ISNA’s annual conference still refused to acknowledge Bin Laden’s role in the terrorist attacks.”
Also, ISNA has held fundraisers for terrorists, notes Discover the Networks. After Hamas leader Mousa Marzook was arrested and eventually deported in 1997, ISNA raised money for his defense. The group also has condemned the U.S. government’s post-9/11 seizure of Hamas’ and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s financial assets.
Minimizing homegrown Islamic terrorism
Another charge that has followed Obama is that the White House has been minimizing recent Islamic terrorist attacks and attempted attacks.
“We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” Obama stated in a Rose Garden appearance one day after a Muslim Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was accused of being the lone gunman in a shooting massacre at the Fort Hood Army base that murdered 13 and wounded 30 others.
Obama urged Americans not to “jump to conclusions” about the motives behind the shooting, a theme the president echoed in a speech the next day in which he downplayed religion as a motive in the deadly attack.
Hasan’s Islamic motivations, however, were immediately clear. According to eyewitnesses, Hasan reportedly jumped onto a desk and, like scores of other Muslim terrorist attackers, shouted “Allahu Akbar.”
Also, Hasan attended the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., in 2001 at the same time as Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, two of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks that year.
The mosque at the time was led by Anwar al-Awlaki, now a top leader of al-Qaida.
Obama also seemed to minimize Islamic terror last December when a Muslim Nigerian citizen attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight to Detroit.
Obama immediately referred to Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist,” while Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, claimed there was “no indication” the attack was “part of anything larger.”
However, it emerged Abdulmutallab had traveled to the mountainous Shabwah Province of Yemen to meet with “al-Qaida elements.”
Al-Qaida in Yemen released a video, with its logo in the corner of the screen, of Abdulmutallab and others training in a desert camp, firing weapons at such targets as the Jewish star, the British Union Jack, and the letters “U.N.”
The tape included an apparent martyrdom statement in which Abdulmutallab justified his actions against “the Jews and the Christians and their agents.”
Holder: Al-Walaki is central threat
In his interview with ABC News yesterday, Holder said that in the last 24 months, 126 people have been indicted on terrorist-related charges, including 50 American citizens.
“I think that what is most alarming to me is the totality of what we see,” he said. “Whether it is an attempt to bomb the New York City subway system, an attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit, an attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square. … I think that gives us a sense of the breadth of the challenges that we face and the kinds of things that our enemy is trying to do.”
Holder identified al-Walaki as the central link to recent attacks.
“He’s an extremely dangerous man. He has shown a desire to harm the United States, a desire to strike the homeland of the United States,” Holder said. “He is a person who – as an American citizen – is familiar with this country and he brings a dimension, because of that American familiarity, that others do not.”
Holder said Awlaki is able to preach violence on al-Qaida websites and reach new converts.
“The ability to go into your basement, turn on your computer, find a site that has this kind of hatred spewed. … They have an ability to take somebody who is perhaps just interested, perhaps just on the edge, and take them over to the other side,” he said.
To combat the threat of Americans turning to al-Qaida and violence, the U.S. is monitoring scores of radicals and has set up stings to blunt the threat, Holder said.