War on Terror Category

Here is a link to the text of the executive order on CNN's website. (The White House website has yet to post it.)

David French, a columnist at National Review and a vocal opponent of Donald Trump -- so much so that he considered mounting an independent presidential campaign as a conservative alternative -- has written a detailed analysis of Trump's executive order regarding refugees from terrorist-ridden nations, placing this order in the context of the history of US policy toward refugees. Some excerpts:

First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump's 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush's two terms and a typical year in Obama's two terms. [See the article for a chart showing refugee ceilings and admissions over the last 40 years.]...

Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments....

The ban, however, contains an important exception: "Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked." In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions -- a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.

To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors. We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS.

Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it's clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat. Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent.

He also points out that the language of the order does not include legal permanent residents (green-card holders). These people have been thoroughly screened already.

James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has lived as a foreigner in Egypt and Canada, had to leave Egypt and live in a tent in a refugee camp in Cyprus, and is married to a Chinese immigrant. Prof. Hoffmeier published a book in 2009 about what Scripture says about immigration. He was interviewed at the time by Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition.

What I learned in my study is that there are three relevant terms used in Hebrew (ger, zar, nekhar). Different English translations render the words differently. The TNIV and NLT render them all as "foreigner." That is misleading and incorrect.

Zar and nekhar indeed refer to foreigners or visitors, people passing through a foreign land.

Ger or the verb gwr, which together occur more than 160 times in the OT, refer to foreign residents who live in another land with the permission of a host. A good example of this is found in Genesis when Joseph asks permission of pharaoh for his family to move to Egypt (Gen. 45:16-18). When they arrived, the brothers asked pharaoh if they could sojourn in the land (Gen. 47:1-4), and Pharaoh allotted them a section of the land of Goshen or Rameses (Gen. 47:5-7).

The law is clear that ger is not to be oppressed, but to receive equal justice, and have access to the social support system of ancient Israel. And there was a provision for religious inclusion, but they were also obligated to live in accordance with the laws just like the Israelites.

The Law does not, however, extend to the zar and nekhar such benefits and services. From this I conclude that ger was viewed as a legal alien.

The mistake of some well-meaning Christians is to apply the biblical laws for the ger to illegal aliens in American even though they do not fit the biblical legal and social definition.

By way of contrast, take a minute to read about Australia's refugee policy, which was adopted in response to a surge of refugees arriving by boat in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Anyone attempting to enter Australia illegally by boat is either returned whence they came or, if seeking asylum, sent to one of two offshore refugee processing centers, one on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (which is being closed) and one in the island nation of Nauru. Australia still accepts around 12,000 to 13,000 refugees each year, a number representing about half-a-thousandth of the national population. The policy has deterred attempts at illegal immigration by boat.

9/11, 15 years on

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Time flies. The five-year-old boy I took to the zoo -- and kept away from the TV and the radio -- the day the terrorists flew planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center is on his way back to college after a short visit home.

Sonia Shah was just two years older than my son on that day. She is now a 22-year-old senior at Baylor, and she recently spoke to the Associated Press about how the death of her father, University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, has motivate her to serve refugees:

Sometimes, after refugees told her their stories of conflict and loss, Sonia Shah would let them know that she had one, too.

Explaining that her father died in 9/11 opened 'a bonding moment,' says the Baylor University social work student, who spent the summer volunteering with refugee aid organizations in Greece.

Her father, Jayesh 'Jay' Shah, was killed at ground zero, where he was a financial trading technology executive. Sonia was 7.

His death fueled Sonia's impulse to try to help where others turn away.

'Because I had faced loss at such a young age and in such a different way than many other people, I recognized hardship in other people's life a lot more easily,' says the 22-year-old senior, who took a year off from college for religious study. She says that without her faith, she 'wouldn't be as whole and as healed.'

Say a prayer for Jay's family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came.

The Daily Mail piece also features Ronald Milam, Jr., the 14-year-old son of Muskogee native U. S. Army Major Ronald Milam, Sr., who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon, Ronald Jr.'s mother, then-Air Force Capt. Jacqueline Milam, who was pregnant with him on the day of the attack, was at the Pentagon that day as well, but escaped. Ronald Jr. wears the number 33 on his basketball jersey to honor the father he never met, who was 33 years old on 9/11/2001. The Muskogee High School gym was renamed in 2002 to honor Maj. Milam, who had been a four-year starting point guard for the team and went on to a basketball scholarship and bachelor's degree from Eastern New Mexico State University.

Many of the links from previous years are reprised below, as they remain excellent resources for refreshing our collective memory and, I hope, rekindling our resolve. Here are a few newer items worthy of note:

On Facebook, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote:

Today we mark 15 years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. We remember the victims. We embrace their loved ones. We stand with our greatest ally the United States of America and with other partners in the battle against militant Islamic terrorism that spreads its fear, its dread, its murder around the world.

Our memories are long, our determination is boundless. Civilized societies must band together to defeat these forces of darkness, and I'm sure we will.

Actor Steve Buscemi, who had served as a New York City firefighter in the early 1980s, returned to duty on 9/11, working 12-hour-shifts to help his old company in the search for survivors. His involvement didn't become generally known until years later:

The day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Steve Buscemi, who worked as a firefighter from 1980-1984, showed up at his old fire station, Engine Company No. 55 in the Little Italy section of New York.

For the next week he worked 12-hour shifts, digging through the rubble trying to find the bodies of missing firefighters, all the while refusing to do interviews or have his picture taken.

"It was a privilege to be able to do it," the 45-year-old actor said. "It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside. And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn't really think about it as much, feel it as much.

"It wasn't until I stopped that I really felt the full impact of what had happened. It would have been much harder for me to get through it if I hadn't been able to do that."

Politico has collated the memories of those who were traveling with President Bush on Air Force One on 9/11.

Al Perrotta tells the story of his big sister Dodie, an Air Force intelligence analyst who was at work in the Pentagon on 9/11:

As they were for millions of Americans, the next hours are a jumble of nightmare images and frantic phone calls. Dodie called my mom from a hotel on Route 1, where she had walked from the Pentagon. My mother and Julie forced their way to the hotel through the traffic. Unable to make a turn to the hotel because of the gridlock, my 80-year-old mother jumped out of the car and leaped over a road barrier in an effort reach her daughter, only Dodie was nowhere to be found. The hotel had forced the Pentagon survivors to leave and continue their exodus down Route 1, as tens of thousands of Federal workers ordered out of DC were heading en masse in that direction. (Osama bin Laden and friends are lucky to have met their end at the hand of Navy Seals and drone strikes. Had our mother gotten hold of them that day or any other their deaths would not have been so quick and merciful.)

For hours no one knew where Dodie was. She ended up walking seven miles to the King Street Metro station in Alexandria before my brother-in-law found her. Seven miles on the one day in decades she had not brought sneakers to work....

Dodie was furious at the actual attack and the al-Qaeda terrorists. Furious at herself for having left the sneakers at home and being forced to walk miles in heels and bare feet. She was also furious because the U.S. intelligence community knew an attack was in the works and was working around the clock to put the pieces together, but had been stifled by "walls" the Clinton Administration had put in place limiting what the various intelligence agencies could share with each other.

In fact, she revealed years later that the real reason she had to miss my wedding in the spring of 2001 was because of high-level top-secret meetings dealing with the looming threat.

There was something else she did not reveal to me until just a couple years ago -- always looking to protect her little brother. The morning of 9/11 she had been scheduled to meet with her Navy counterpart over in his new offices. At the last minute he said, "Why don't I come over your way since I have to be over in that part of the Pentagon anyway."

They were meeting when the building shook. Aware of the attack in New York, Dodie told him "We've been hit." Indeed. The wheel of American Airlines Flight 77 had just slammed through her colleague's conference room. His offices were incinerated. But for chance, both of them would have been killed....

Dodie had made it home safely on 9/11. And yet come dawn September 12th, after fully absorbing the horror of what had happened, her feet still swollen and sore, she --and thousands of her civilian colleagues -- left the safety of home, made the long, slow commute, walked past rows of emergency vehicles and heavily armed Marines, and entered a building still on fire. With smoke and the stench of death still in the air, Dodie sat down at her desk and set herself to the task of helping defend the nation.

Here Is New York has added a site called Voices of 9/11, video interviews with 500 eyewitnesses, recorded in 2002 and 2003.

Theologian Ravi Zacharias considers the stories of rescue and loss 15 years ago and asks, "Where was God?" As a prologue, he writes:

As some would continue to perpetrate the myth of progress, we live on this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 under the cloud of a world dramatically changed since that terrible day. Anyone who travels sees and feels what a murderous ideology has done to our world. May we never forget what happened and ever be in pursuit of wisdom and courage to deal with those whose philosophy thrives on hate. Our prayers are for the families that lost a loved one and with gratitude for those who came to the rescue.

Civilization is always threatened by ideologues who embrace the moment and lose sight of the essential value of every human life. Answers will only be found in embracing the God of love and living by his precepts. Loving God and our fellow human beings are the two laws on which all other laws stand. May God guide our leaders. The Scriptures call us to understand the times and know what to do (see 1 Chronicles 12:32). May we be faithful.

Le Figaro has a montage of amateur video taken in lower Manhattan the morning of 9/11, including a clip of the first plane hitting the North Tower. The images and language are unfiltered and may be disturbing. This clip comes via Ace of Spades HQ. Ace writes:

I'm linking it because this pulls no punches. It is not sanitized. It includes screaming in horror, and f-bombs, and blasphemies (the "JFC!" one), from people recording the attacks on their cell phones.

I'm linking it just because it's something we don't see much in American media, where things tend to be sanitized, Because Backlash.

Last year, Bookworm Room reminded us why we need to remember:

Last year on 9/11, my remembrance post looked at how our political class, led by Barack Obama, seemed to have forgotten every lesson learned from 9/11. Under his aegis, I pointed out, our borders were meaningless, the always dangerous Middle East was a swirling mass of chaos, and ISIS was cutting a bloody swath through that benighted land. This year, things are worse.

Obama's Middle Eastern policies -- policies that systematically destabilized Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and that enabled anarchy in Syria and ISIS's rise -- have led to the largest migrant crisis since Rome's downfall....

The worst irony of today's 9/11 anniversary, though, is that yesterday, the fourteenth anniversary of the day before the world changed forever, the Obama-led Democrat party took steps to ensure that 9/11, rather than seeing the peak of Islamic terrorism, will begin to look like a dry run, just as the 1993 World Trade Center attack was a dry run....

With every passing year, 9/11's emotional resonance lessens, with September 11 becoming nothing more than a sad story rather than both a national tragedy and a wake-up call. Even worse, too many of the younger generation don't even have a textbook acquaintance with 9/11. Our continued survival as a free nation demands that we remember 9/11 in a way that enables us to understand the lessons it teaches about the nature of evil and about the evil nature of radical Islam, whether it emanates from Sunni or Shia Islamists.

Ben Domenech, writing at The Federalist, calls 9/11 the day America forgot. Far from producing change in attitudes and behaviors, nothing much changed after a month or so of bipartisanship and resolve.

From news.com.au: 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.

As we remember the victims and the efforts of the brave rescuers, we must also never forget the enemy that attacked us and which still seeks our destruction.

The Telegraph has a first-person feature story about Jesse Morton, who was recruited into radical Islam while in jail, deepened his involvement after his release, but has since de-radicalized himself and is working with authorities. He has some thoughts on what causes radicalization and how it can be stopped.

It was a radical imam in Richmond jail who had first told me about Islamic prophecies of the end of the world. So on 9/11, as the planes smashed into the Twin Towers, resulting in the deaths of 2,996 people, I saw that those prophecies would come true. I had been radicalised to such an extent that my sympathy would be with al-Qaeda.

In the Koran and the Hadith (the compiled sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), I found an abundance of verses that I believed justified heinous violence in support of the establishment of an Islamic state for the whole world. Yet for my entire life before I became a Muslim, I had completely rejected and opposed violence....

When I was released from Richmond prison a few years later, I moved to the next level of involvement with Islamist extremists. Through the Islamic Thinkers' Society in New York, I came into contact with Anjem Choudary, who was beamed into our meetings from the UK to give us instruction....

By then, I was so committed to the ideology that al-Qaeda and others were promoting, I believed their view, which divided the world into an "in" group of Muslims and an "out" group of everyone else, to justify acts of violence and atrocities such as 9/11....

Islam gave me the structure I craved. My high IQ then won me scholarships and, from 2007, I studied for a Masters in International Studies at Columbia University. But I was living a double life - as Jesse Morton in class, and Younus Abdullah Muhammed elsewhere. My radical views could have been recognised by the university, but weren't. I now believe we must train teachers better to key into their students for early signs of radicalisation....

When, in 2010, the animated comedy series South Park depicted the Prophet Muhammad, I posted the addresses of the show's creators online and encouraged extremists to attack them. For this, I was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Deradicalisation for me was a process, not an event. Incarceration was one factor for change, but other things made me realise the impact on others of what I had done. My marriage had broken up under the strain of what had happened, and I was looking at never seeing my two young children again. Slowly, I was realising that my deeds had consequences, whereas previously I had assumed I had divine protection.

Effectively, I self-deradicalised. I cut myself off from anything that would pull me back towards jihadists, but it was my decision to co-operate with the law enforcement community, providing them with intelligence, which stopped me being locked up with other terrorists and gave me the space I needed to reflect.


Andrew McCarthy, who lead the prosecution of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, writes that blindness to the Islamist threat has become official policy:

When I wrote my "Memoir of the Jihad," willful blindness was an ingrained conscious avoidance of the abundant evidence of the threat posed by Islamic supremacism -- the ideological commitment to coerce acceptance of sharia law, by force if necessary. It was a head-in-the-sand approach to easily accessible proof that the threat is rooted in Muslim scripture and a mainstream interpretation of Islam that stretches back over a millennium. Alas, apologists of the See No Islam school cannot seem to make the jihadist carnage go away. We're way beyond that. Now, it is compelled blindness, a tireless campaign to erase the abundant evidence, to make it inaccessible. Alas, apologists of the See No Islam school cannot seem to make the jihadist carnage go away. But they work feverishly to make sure you can't see what causes it. Or, if you do get a glimpse -- because the carnage and its animating ideology are inextricably linked, and because jihadists are actually quite anxious to tell us why they do what they do -- the apologists warn that you'll keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you....

Fifteen years after 9/11, al-Qaeda has revived. Its breakaway faction, the Islamic State (formerly, al-Qaeda in Iraq) is our current obsession -- and there are some understandable reasons for that, since the Islamic State controls major swaths of territory in the Middle East and projects terror into the West. But al-Qaeda is resurgent and as much a threat to America as it was in the late Nineties.

After 9/11, the American people seemed resolved to defeat jihadist terror. Today, the United States government is a major financial benefactor of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism -- a regime that regards our country as its mortal enemy. Iran has a longstanding practice of abetting al-Qaeda. The Obama administration now has a practice of supplying Iran with plane loads of untraceable cash.

A threat can be repelled only by seeing it for what it is, understanding what it wants to accomplish, and exhibiting the will to deny it, however long that takes. Erasure is not a strategy. Fifteen years ago, we seemed to know that.

Bosch Fawstin, who calls himself a "recovering Muslim," says we need to stop pretending that the problem is some radical variant of Islam, or Islam with a qualifying adjective or suffix.

There is Islam and there are Muslims. Muslims who take Islam seriously are at war with us and Muslims who don't aren't. But that doesn't mean we should consider these reluctant Muslims allies against Jihad. I've been around Muslims my entire life and most of them truly don't care about Islam. The problem I have with many of these essentially non-Muslim Muslims, especially in the middle of this war being waged on us by their more consistent co-religionists, is that they give the enemy cover. They force us to play a game of Muslim Roulette since we can't tell which Muslim is going to blow himself up until he does. And their indifference about the evil being committed in the name of their religion is a big reason why their reputation is where it is....

Non-observant Muslims are not our problem, but neither are they the solution to our problem. Our problem is Islam and its most consistent practitioners. There is nothing in Islam that stays the hand of Muslims who want to kill non-Muslims. If an individual Muslim is personally peaceful, it's not because of Islam, it's because of his individual choice, which is why I often say that your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad, to their own religion. The very rare Muslim who helps us against Jihad is acting against his religion, but that doesn't stop some among us from thinking that his choice somehow shines a good light on Islam. It doesn't. A good Muslim according to us is a bad Muslim according to Islam....

Objectively good human beings, who identify themselves as Muslim, give Islam a good face, one far better then it deserves. This only gives us a false impression about what it is we're facing, with just another excuse not to face it. And this leads to our acceptance into our culture of stealth jihadists who have figured out how to say what we want to hear, while they scheme behind the scenes to further Islamize the West.

A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.

The History Channel has moved its 9/11 content. There used to be an interactive site on the 9/11 attacks here, but it seems no longer to be on the web, and the archived version appears to be incomplete.

The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

Video / audio from the day:

FAA, American Airlines, & NORAD real-time audio as air traffic controllers, airline officials, and military officials became aware of and responded to the attacks.
WNBC live coverage
Fox 5 live coverage
CNN live coverage

Footage from Hoboken, N.J., on 9/11: "Footage from September 3rd and 11th 2001 in Hoboken, NJ by Bruce Miller, Brad Miller, and Michael Frank and in Manhattan on September 19, 2001 by Bruce Miller. And some subsequent footage I shot during the 6-month Tribute in Light and Fleet Week 2002." Hoboken is directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan.

Some personal recollections of the day:

New York singer/songwriter Beth Sorrentino wrote this song, "Beautiful Day," a week after the attacks. "It's a reflection and narrative of the events of that day and people I knew who were there, and worrying about their safety."

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.

In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Here is Robert N. Going's diary of four weeks as a volunteer in a respite center at Ground Zero.

My personal recollection of the day and the weeks that followed.

Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.

Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:

It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.

Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.

Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.

I follow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Facebook page. While he often addresses grave matters like terrorism, many of his posts are about happier events relating to his responsibilities. For example, today he wrote about his speech celebrating the launch a plan to build 32,000 new housing units in the growing city of Ashkelon.

Netanyahu_Ashkelon-20151030.png

Netanyahu spoke about his vision to build stronger links between the different regions of Israel:

My vision is simple. My vision is to - to a great extent - cancel the term 'periphery' and link everything into one vibrant bloc. What I said several weeks ago, that my vision is to see Be'er Sheva with 500,000 residents in 12 years, I say to you Itamar, and to all of you, Ashkelon will be a city of at least 250,000 residents within 12 years. This is not only possible, it is happening before our eyes. It is a very great thing that is happening here. Of course this depends on many things. What we are doing today is essential. The transportation link, not just to Ashkelon, but in the south and throughout the country, is to link up everything, from Dan to Eilat, without a single red light. It won't be a two lane road but a multi-lane highway, and trains. Now from Ashkelon we are 50 minutes by train to Tel Aviv and to Be'er Sheva, and we will yet reduce this.

Most of the comments were supportive and celebratory, but one hostile comment stood out. It was from a Facebook user whose profile picture showed the Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian flag:

Mohammad Erdem

Masjid Al-Aqsa is a holy place of worship for the Muslims
Iranian army liberate the Al-Aqsa.
Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Persian Empire.
We are going to murder all 7 million Jews in Israel!!!!!
https://www.facebook.com/100010517441764/videos/117658968594684/


The post was timestamped at Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm CDT.

Religion_of_Peace-20151030.png

The video shows a soldier in camouflage fatigues suiting up, with close up cuts to putting on unit insignia, placing a book (a Qu'ran?) in one pocket and a handgun in another. Dramatic music plays in the background. The production values remind me of a commercial for the U. S. Army. The final scenes shows a growing mass of soldiers overlooking Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, and the al-Aqsa mosque. I'm curious to know what the words at the end of the video say. Is this an official Iranian government message?

I have reported the comment to Facebook as hate speech. As of this writing it has not been removed.

I am late getting this put together, late taking my own time to remember the events of 14 years ago.

Take a moment to remember University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, and to pray for his family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came. Jay's family returned again to New York today to honor his memory and the memory of all who perished that day.

Many of the links from previous years are reprised below, as they remain excellent resources for refreshing our collective memory and, I hope, rekindling our resolve. Here are a few new items worthy of note:

On Facebook, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote:

Government and people of Israel stand with the United States of America in marking 14 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

As we remember those who perished, we remain committed to fighting the forces of militant Islam that have caused so much death and destruction both before and since that terrible day. Our commitment is matched only by our conviction that we will prevail.

Bookworm Room quotes at length from a Charles Krauthammer column on the Iran deal, which notes that, not only do we have to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and to allow them access to funds to continue to destabilize the Middle East, America is obliging itself to defend Iran against efforts, like the Stuxnet computer virus, to sabotage Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

Here Is New York has added a site called Voices of 9/11, video interviews with 500 eyewitnesses, recorded in 2002 and 2003.

Le Figaro has a montage of amateur video taken in lower Manhattan the morning of 9/11, including a clip of the first plane hitting the North Tower. The images and language are unfiltered and may be disturbing. This clip comes via Ace of Spades HQ. Ace writes:

I'm linking it because this pulls no punches. It is not sanitized. It includes screaming in horror, and f-bombs, and blasphemies (the "JFC!" one), from people recording the attacks on their cell phones.

I'm linking it just because it's something we don't see much in American media, where things tend to be sanitized, Because Backlash.

Bookworm Room reminds us why we need to remember:

Last year on 9/11, my remembrance post looked at how our political class, led by Barack Obama, seemed to have forgotten every lesson learned from 9/11. Under his aegis, I pointed out, our borders were meaningless, the always dangerous Middle East was a swirling mass of chaos, and ISIS was cutting a bloody swath through that benighted land. This year, things are worse.

Obama's Middle Eastern policies -- policies that systematically destabilized Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, and that enabled anarchy in Syria and ISIS's rise -- have led to the largest migrant crisis since Rome's downfall....

The worst irony of today's 9/11 anniversary, though, is that yesterday, the fourteenth anniversary of the day before the world changed forever, the Obama-led Democrat party took steps to ensure that 9/11, rather than seeing the peak of Islamic terrorism, will begin to look like a dry run, just as the 1993 World Trade Center attack was a dry run....

With every passing year, 9/11's emotional resonance lessens, with September 11 becoming nothing more than a sad story rather than both a national tragedy and a wake-up call. Even worse, too many of the younger generation don't even have a textbook acquaintance with 9/11. Our continued survival as a free nation demands that we remember 9/11 in a way that enables us to understand the lessons it teaches about the nature of evil and about the evil nature of radical Islam, whether it emanates from Sunni or Shia Islamists.

Ben Domenech, writing at The Federalist, calls 9/11 the day America forgot. Far from producing change in attitudes and behaviors, nothing much changed after a month or so of bipartisanship and resolve.

From news.com.au: 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.

A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.

The History Channel has moved its 9/11 content. There used to be an interactive site on the 9/11 attacks here, but it seems no longer to be on the web, and the archived version appears to be incomplete.

The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

Some personal recollections of the day:

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.

In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Here is Robert N. Going's diary of four weeks as a volunteer in a respite center at Ground Zero.

My personal recollection of the day and the weeks that followed.

Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.

Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:

It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.

Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.

Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.

Yet another grim commemoration.

Stella Morabito, granddaughter of survivors, writes in The Federalist: 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was jumpstarted on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, arrested, and killed.

The goal was to exterminate every Armenian Christian, whether child, woman, or man. The killings themselves often included all manner of butchery, torture, and humiliation. My grandmother lamented the crucifixion of her father, who was known in the village as a holy man.

Another part of this extermination program involved deportations that forced Armenians out of their homes and basically put them on death marches into the Syrian Desert. Many died of starvation and exhaustion on these caravans. Others succumbed to diseases like typhus in lice-infested camp conditions. Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines. My grandmother's younger sister was taken into a harem....

The starting point was April 24, 1915, with the arrests of community leaders in Constantinople. The killings continued after the war, and included destruction from the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922--which my grandparents also survived. Tens of thousands of Armenians and Greeks lost their lives in that fire and the Armenian and Greek sections of the city were utterly destroyed. By 1923, the killing relented. A chronology of the genocide is here.

Raymond Ibrahim, writing for PJ Media points out that the Ottoman purge included all Christians, not just Armenians:

Today, April 24, we remember how exactly 100 years ago the last historic Muslim caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, tried to cleanse its empire of Christian minorities -- Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks -- even as we stand by watching as the new caliphate, the Islamic State, resumes the genocide.

And in both cases, the atrocities were and are being committed in the name of Islam.

In November, 1914, during WWI, the Ottoman caliphate issued a fatwa, or Islamic decree, proclaiming it a "sacred duty" for all Muslims to "massacre" infidels -- specifically naming the "Christian men" of the Triple Entente, "the enemies of Islam" -- with promises of great rewards in the afterlife.

The same Koran verses that the Islamic State and other jihadi outfits regularly quote permeated the Ottoman fatwa, including: "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them -- seize them, besiege them, and be ready to ambush them" (9:5) and "O you who have believed! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are but friends of each other; and whoever among you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them" (5:51) -- and several other verses that form the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity....

As happens to this very day, the Muslims of the Ottoman caliphate, not able to reach or defeat the stronger infidel -- the "Christian men" of Britain, France, and Russia -- satiated their bloodlust on their Christian subjects. And they justified the genocide by projecting the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity onto Christians -- saying that, because Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks were Christian, they were naturally aiding the other "Christian men" of the West.

As happens to this day under the new caliphate -- the Islamic State -- the Ottoman caliphate crucified, beheaded, tortured, mutilated, raped, enslaved, and otherwise massacred countless "infidel" Christians. The official number of Armenians killed in the genocide is 1.5 million; hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians each were also systematically slaughtered (see this document for statistics).

(Although today marks the "Armenian Genocide," often forgotten is that Assyrians and Greeks were also targeted for cleansing by the Ottoman caliphate. The only thing that distinguished Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek subjects of the caliphate from Turkish subjects was that the three former were Christian. As one Armenian studies professor asks, "If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?")

Armenia was the first nation to become officially Christian, in the 3rd century AD. The regions that were later incorporated into the Ottoman Empire included the Holy Land itself, the cradle of Christianity, and the lands through which the apostle Paul journeyed and planted churches. The southwestern part of modern-day Turkey is the site of the seven cities of the Roman Province of Asia to whose churches Christ directs letters in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. It was in the same region that many of the ecumenical councils of early Christianity were held. The lands were part of the Christian Byzantine Empire until their gradual conquest by Muslims.

It's interesting to note that this religious purge began not under the dictatorial rule of the sultan, but during the "Second Constitutional Era," under a democratically elected reformist party.

Stella Morabito concludes:

If we corrupt the language so that we do not acknowledge genocide when it happens--as President Obama just did--then we feed into the expectations of all potential perpetrators that they can easily get away with murder. So we are liable to see genocide and other forms of mass slaughter repeated. No true civilization can afford to falsify the historical record or corrupt the language.

Inscribed on one of the walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a stark lesson in this. It is a statement by Adolph Hitler, who rationalized mass slaughter and expected people simply to avert their eyes and forget: "Who, after all, today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

What follows is my blog entry from the 10th anniversary. My wife and I had visited the memorial a few days before, when we were in town for the Oklahoma Republican Convention. I don't think I can improve upon what was written by those who were there. I've updated links where I could.

Much has been written by those who were in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Rather than try to improve on their work, or even try to meaningfully excerpt it, I'll send you their way. They are all must-reads.

Jan, the Happy Homemaker was picked up by a friend and they went to volunteer at University Hospital. She ended up carrying equipment to the triage site and was overwhelmed by what she saw there.

Don Danz felt the explosion four blocks away, then went with a coworker to look for her dad, who worked in the Murrah Building. Don has a map showing damaged buildings as distant as a mile away.

Mike's Noise has a series of posts: His memories of the day of the bombing, a gallery of links, photos he took in the days and weeks following the bombing, profiles of the perpetrators, and unanswered questions -- what about John Doe No. 2, stories of multiple bombs and multiple explosions, and rumors of advance warning of an attack.

Charles G. Hill links to his reaction to media coverage on the first anniversary of the bombing, and on the 10th anniversary his thoughts on what the perps intended to teach us, and what Oklahoma Citians learned instead about themselves. In a separate entry, Charles links to several other first-person accounts, including this one by Chase McInerney, who was on the scene as a working journalist.

Downtown Guy was there, too:

I was there on April 19th. No, thank God, I wasn't a victim, and I wasn't in the buildings when the blast went off. But I was out there soon after. Without risking letting out who I am, let's just say I was out there serving the public. I saw horrible things I never thought I'd see. I saw a person die. And with all the hype out there right now, the image is haunting me again.

I didn't know how much the bombing effected me until the second anniversary. A procession of victims marched through downtown. I watched. I started sweating. My head felt like it was about to explode. I rushed to an alley next to the old library. I threw up in the weeds.

I remember the initial reports, speculating about a natural gas main explosion, then the suggestion that this might be linked to foreign terrorism (remember, it was just two years since the first attack on the World Trade Center), rumors that some Middle Eastern man had been apprehended at the Oklahoma City airport. They found a part of the bomb truck, tracked the VIN back to a rental outlet in Junction City, Kansas, and before long we had sketches of two John Does. It wasn't much longer with John Doe No. 1 was apprehended near Perry, driving a car without a license plate.

I visited the site three weeks later, just after my second nephew was born a few miles away at Baptist Hospital. The building still stood there, agape, awaiting demolition. Teddy bears, flowers, photos, and other tokens of remembrance lined the chain link fence.

Mikki and I visited the memorial on Sunday [in April 2005]. I am not fond of the memorial. I don't think we know how to build memorials any more, and I don't have high hopes for what will be built at Ground Zero in New York. It's too big, too grand, too sleek, too clean. But there are a few things about it, mainly small, simple, untidy things, that touch the heart:

  • Among the Field of Chairs, 19 chairs aren't as big as the others.
  • The Survivor Tree -- an elm that once stood in the middle of an asphalt parking lot across the street from the blast is now the focal point and the symbol of the memorial. It's the one spot of shade and shelter at the memorial.
  • The graffito, spraypainted on the Journal Record building by a rescue worker: "Team 5 / 4-19-95 / We search for the truth. We seek Justice. The Courts Require it. The Victims Cry for it. And GOD Demands it"
  • The fence -- it's still there, still hung with memories of lives cut short, beautiful young women, bright-eyed kids, moms and dads. It must have driven the memorial's designer nuts to know that this garden-variety chain link fence and its jumble of sentimental trinkets would continue to stand next to the sleek and stark gates.

Two neighboring churches have built their own small memorials across the street. St. Joseph's Old Cathedral has a statue of Jesus, weeping, facing away from the building and toward a wall with 168 niches. A message from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oklahoma, Eusebius Beltran, explaining the significance of the statue and the design of the memorial, is posted nearby. First Methodist Church built a small open-air chapel shortly after the bombing as a place for prayer and worship for those visiting the site. These two simple shrines far better capture the Spirit that drew rescue workers and volunteers from across the state and the nation to comfort the dying, tend the wounded, search for the lost, clear away the debris, and begin to put a city back together again.

MORE:

Here is Charles G. Hill's reflection on the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

The Oklahoman profiles Frank and Donna Sisson, caretakers for almost 20 years of the open-air Heartland Chapel at First Methodist.

Reporter Jayna Davis has written and updated a book on her investigation of the identity of "John Doe No. 2" and the possible connection to hostile regimes and factions in the Middle East: The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing. Here is a 2011 article by Davis about the declassified 2005 FBI interrogation of convicted bomber Terry
Nichols
:

During the interview, the convicted bomber unleashed a startling admission: John Doe 2 exists. The FBI report states, "Nichols advised that John Doe 2's name had not been mentioned during the (FBI) investigation, and therefore, he feared for his life and his family's well-being should it become public."

The late McCurtain County Gazette journalist J. D. Cash pursued the bombers' connections to the white-supremacist movement. Cash and his work were profiled by Darcy O'Brien in The New Yorker in 1997. On Cash's death in 2007, Mike McCarville wrote:

His writings about the Oklahoma City bombing first gained attention because they included interviews with an undercover IRS operative who maintained that she had warned the government of the plans of right-wing extremists to attack federal buildings in 1995. Cash went on to delve deeper and deeper into Tim McVeigh and others who had lived or visited Elohim City, the religious compound in eastern Oklahoma. Using the Freedom of Information Act, he was able to make a case that the FBI had McVeigh and other members of a gang of Midwest Bank robbers under investigation prior to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building.

ADDED at the top because of its valuable info:

Thomas F. Madden reviews The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam by Jonathan Riley-Smith

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn't stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, "How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?" I always answered: "They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism."

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven't they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn't it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas....

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe's lacklands and ne'er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed "turn the other cheek" into "kill them all; God will know his own."

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it "nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public." ...

Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott's novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe's assault on Islam--an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.

Christianity Today: The Real History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression--an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity--and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion--has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt--once the most heavily Christian areas in the world--quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Gov. Jindal on the President's comparison of modern-day ISIS to the Crusades of the 11th through the 13th centuries:

Bobby Jindal on Friday released a statement responding to the president's remarks on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he cautioned Americans from getting on a "high horse" when taking a stance against radical Islam because people have committed "terrible deeds" in the name of Christianity, too.

"It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast," Jindal said. "Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today."

Ace on the intellectual depth of Obama's National Prayer Breakfast comments:

But Obama doesn't deliver that; Obama delivers the same low-IQ, trite, Marxism for Dummies sh** that all glittering mediocrities like himself traffic in, for they can not manage any better.

Charles Krauthammer makes this point, mostly, when he says Obama's remarks were simultaneously "banal and offensive," and says further that these remarks are "adolescent."

Indeed. These are the Deep Thoughts of the Fourteen Year Old.

But I would go one step further. All fourteen year olds are not alike; some are clever and bookish and and full of interesting ideas (if not yet any wisdom).

And some are rather dull-witted and just want to sound like they may be clever. And these slow-witted 14-year-olds tend to just repeat, in a twittering high pitched pre-pubescent voice, a dumbed-down version of Recieved Wisdom they've heard from "Cool Adults."

All the "Cool Adults" the adolescent Obama knew were radicals and communists, and he has done far more pot than thinking since he heard these banal cliches, so what you're hearing is Obama straining to remember, through a pottish haze, what his dull 14-year-old boy brain heard from his communist benefactors in the late sixties and early seventies.

Take a moment to remember University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, and to pray for his family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came.

From news.com.au: 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.

A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.

Here is the History Channel's interactive site on the 9/11 attacks.

The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

Some personal recollections of the day:

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.

In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.

Here is Robert N. Going's diary of four weeks as a volunteer in a respite center at Ground Zero.

My personal recollection of the day and the weeks that followed.

MORE:

Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.

Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:

It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.

Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.

Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.

You'll be touched and encouraged by two very different stories linked by a common theme: People who are serving as God's hands to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

The Folds of Honor Foundation's cottage at Crosstimbers Marina, dedicated Memorial Day weekend, welcomes its first guests this weekend, the widow and children of Technical Sergeant Jason Norton. They will enjoy the peaceful atmosphere on the shore of Skiatook Lake free of charge as guests of the Owasso-based foundation, which also provides scholarships to military children. Our family attended the dedication of the Folds of Honor cottage on Memorial Day weekend; it is a beautiful setting.

Crosstimbers Marina, with the help of countless volunteers and donors, built the cottage for military families to enjoy.

"The vast majority of this $350,000 furnished cottage all came from donations, and so Green Country is a wonderful place," said Ron Howell, of Crosstimbers Marina....

"Psychological problems have always been a difficulty of war, but this one has been a particularly horrific one to go through," Howell said.

The honor cottage is intended to help military families who've lost loved ones, or injured military men and women and their families, to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing setting, while getting their minds off what they've been through.

"Not so much about war and the terrors of war, but more about there is a normal world again, and here's a way to return to it," Howell said.

TSgt Norton was killed in the line of duty in 2006 while escorting a convoy in Iraq, giving his own life for the protection of others.

A view of Skiatook Lake from the Folds of Honor Cottage at Crosstimbers Marina

In Philadelphia last week, Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, spoke at the graduation of Project Dawn Court, an alternative justice and rehabilitation program that aims to break women free from the chains of prostitution and enmeshment in the criminal justice system. The program involves substance-abuse and sexual-trauma counseling. Her speech was a follow-on to a talk she gave at the women's jail in Philadelphia. She learned from the public defender that women in prostitution are often the victims of childhood sexual abuse and that homelessness is often the deciding factor that turns an abuse victim into a prostitute.

Dawn spoke about her own experience of childhood sexual abuse and about the power of God that has worked healing in her life, a healing that extends to painful memories:

I used to think that the only way I could heal from the pain of my past was by simply blocking out my memories of the past. But I found that if I tried to block out the past completely, it would come back in painful ways - through flashbacks, or nightmares. What I have learned over time, and what I want to share with you, is that memory is not the enemy.

The key to healing is not to forget your past, but to find moments in your past when someone did something kind for you, when someone protected you, when someone smiled at you, when someone performed an act of love for you without expecting anything in return. If you cannot find a moment when another human being showed you kindness or love, find a moment where you could have lost your life - but you didn't. And when you remember that, know that it was no accident that your life was saved. Your being alive today is no accident. God loves you, and God has sustained you all your life, even in the midst of evil, because He wanted to bring you to this beautiful new day.

So find those good memories, and build your identity upon them. Because your identity is as a beautiful and beloved daughter of God. Thank you and God bless you.

I'm reminded of the verse Dawn used in the dedication of her first book (The Thrill of the Chaste), referring to those who worked for her firing from the New York Post, Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Her next-to-last paragraph echoes a Hebrew blessing to which she introduced me many years ago, Shehecheyanu.

Blessed art Thou, Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day.

TAKE ACTION:

You can support Folds of Honor Foundation, helping them to provide scholarships to the children of fallen American servicemen and servicewomen and to build and furnish more cottages and havens for these families.

Dawn Eden is working toward a doctorate with the aim of teaching theology at the collegiate level. Earlier this year she completed the first step in the process, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree. She accepts PayPal donations to fund travel to give talks like the one she gave at the Project Dawn Court graduation. If you'd like to fund her ministry, you can donate here.

This afternoon, at Cross Timbers resort on Skiatook Lake, a cottage was dedicated for the use of the families of fallen and disabled veterans who are affiliated with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The cottage is to be a retreat for relaxation and recuperation for our wounded warriors and their families.

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Folds of Honor, based here in Owasso, provides "scholarships and other assistance to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country." It was founded in 2007 by Maj. Dan Rooney, a professional golfer, golf course owner, and decorated F-16 pilot who did three tours in Iraq.

Today's dedication was MCed by Cross Timbers developer Ron Howell and featured remarks by Col. Michael Teague, Commander and District Engineer of the Tulsa District of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Suntex Marinas CEO Johnny Powers, Folds of Honor vice president Maj. Ed Pulido, golf course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr., actor Craig T. Nelson, and Folds of Honor scholarship recipient, Spec. B. J. Jackson. John Gibson Miller led the crowd in the national anthem. Rev. David Nahlon offered the invocation. Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and her husband Ladd were on hand to meet guests and to give signed copies of her cookbook to Folds of Honor families.

Spec. B. J. Jackson, surrounded by his wife and children, speaks at the dedication of the Folds of Honor cottage on Skiatook Lake

The cottage, which sits on a wooded hillside on the shore of Skiatook Lake, was designed by SGA Design Group and built by Hunter Homes.

Johnny Powers of Dallas, principal and CEO of Suntex Marinas, spoke of his intentions to have a Folds of Honor "floating cottage" for the use of veterans' families at his company's marinas across the country. Ron Howell mentioned that the next Folds of Honor cottage would be a "floating cottage" on Keystone Lake. The use of marina space will allow Folds of Honor families access to lakes where building on the shore is impossible or impractical.

Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the designer of the new Patriot Golf Club course east of Owasso near the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, is also a poet, and he read his poem, "Memorial Day."

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MORE: Monday, May 27, 2013, is the fourth annual Patriot Cup golf tournament, a fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, featuring seven major-tournament winners -- Rich Beem, Tom Lehman, Larry Mize, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler, Scott Simpson, and Bob Tway. Following the tournament, Dierks Bentley will give a performance benefitting Folds of Honor at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Catoosa at 8:30 p.m.

Noteworthy news, comment, and reflection:

MIT's student newspaper The Tech reports on the memorial service for campus police officer Sean Collier.

MIT Police Chief John Difava recounted the events of last Thursday night. He was pulling out of Stata around 9:30 p.m. and saw a cruiser idling, which turned out to be Collier. "I asked him what was going on, and he gave me that famous grin," said DiFava, "and said 'just making sure everybody's behaving, sir.'" An hour later, Collier would be shot.

DiFava also spoke about all of Collier's qualities, stories of which have been pouring from the community this week: He was a gentle and caring man, and police work was his calling. Sean wanted to be a police officer from the age of 7, said DiFava, and paid his way through the police academy with no promise of employment, waiting for a department with an opening. "That lucky department would be us."

The LA Times spoke to neighbors and acquaintances of the (alleged) bombers, including members of a mosque where they worshipped, the Islamic Center of Boston mosque in Cambridge. Some told of a recent, angry outburst by the older brother.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of the mosque -- the Islamic Society of Boston, in Cambridge -- about three months ago, after he stood up and shouted at the imam during a Friday prayer service, they said. The imam had held up slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of a man to emulate, recalled one worshiper who would give his name only as Muhammad.

Enraged, Tamerlan stood up and began shouting, Muhammad said.

"You cannot mention this guy because he's not a Muslim!" Muhammad recalled Tamerlan shouting, shocking others in attendance.

He returned to the service later without further incident, and other mosque members say he wasn't thrown out so much as taken aside and calmed down.

(Interesting contrast between this situation and a Tulsa man who said he was intimidated by leaders at his mosque and effectively kicked out because of an op-ed he wrote condemning violence in the name of Islam.)

A week ago, Judicial Watch found that bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev's 2009 arrest (not conviction, but the arrest by itself) for domestic violence was sufficient justification to have had him deported. That article also links to other documents about al-Qaeda's involvement in Chechnya.

Ace of Spades HQ has a lengthy analysis of the decision to read a Miranda warning to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who immediately stopped talking. Ace notes that if may be worth sacrificing the ability to use the suspect's statements against him in a court of law in order for a greater purpose -- finding out who else still out there may have been involved.

Ace also links to this: In Paris this week, a rabbi and his son were slashed and wounded by a man wielding a box cutter and shouting "Allah-u-akbar!"

In the Telegraph, columnist Brendan O'Neill wonders why American liberals seem to be more worried about the reaction of some Americans to a radical Muslim motivation behind the bombing than about the bombing itself.

Todd Stewman, a church planting pastor in Austin, Texas, was at the finish line just minutes before the attack and not long after his wife had finished running the marathon. He reflects on the providence that had him away from the finish line and around the block when the bombs went off, while others were killed and maimed. He asks, "Where was God on Boylston Street?" Where is God in suffering?

Jesus, more than anyone in human history, suffered as an innocent.... God's hand was on him through it all. Jesus was perfectly at the center of the Father's will, even when he was suffering. What does this mean for us? It means that suffering does not indicate the absence of God. It means that God is with us in the midst of suffering. Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 23:4, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." The only reason we can know for sure that God is with us through evil and suffering is that the Son of God waded into a broken world, experienced suffering himself, and overcame it. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ does not eliminate all suffering now, but it does guarantee that suffering will one day be eliminated ultimately when he comes again. The death and resurrection of Jesus tells us that God has not ignored evil and suffering, but that he has done something decisively about it. God has dealt a final blow to death by raising Jesus from the dead, and one day there will be no more death and suffering.

So, if I had died or been badly injured on Monday, God would no less have been with me. My safety and security are gifts from God, for which I am most certainly thankful. But my safety and security are not the litmus test of his presence and goodness. His presence and goodness are evidenced by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who "took up our pain and bore our suffering (Isaiah 53:4)."

Julie R. Neidlinger ponders how we respond emotionally to a far-away tragedy -- our rebellion against the thought that we aren't really in control, our desire to express care and concern to the victims without the means to do so in substantial ways, and how blind we can be to those who are within the reach of our help. There's so much insight here, it's tempting to quote the whole thing:

We post sad sentiments and outrage and images on social media. We like and share them and hope it changes the future so that it will never happen again. What else can we do to banish this bad thing? And then politicians mistakenly think their reason for existence is to legislate something so the human condition of pain and suffering doesn't rear its ugly head again.

"If something terrible ever happens to me, " I told my friend, "I don't want to be the excuse for bad legislation. I don't want to be memorialized as a victim. I didn't live 40 years on this planet to be remembered for a few final ugly moments and a fight in some elected political body in an attempt to make human nature illegal."

Tragedy and evil are not completely within our control. We make lots of noise and pretend it isn't so....

We're an ephemerally-connected world. We have a strange problem of being instantly connected to the news of what's happening but unable to do anything substantially. We can give money. Post to Facebook. Tweet. Use emoticons. Click "like".

But grief is best handled in person by people close to those affected, in actual physical proximity, and I can't do that on Facebook....

When something bad happens in the world, I realize I don't want to be able to weep huge tears for hurting people across the country and not feel anything for the actual people God put in my life.

The best thing I can do now is show my family and friends love.

I can let the people in my life know my thoughts are with them by sending a card or a bouquet of surprise flowers or talking on the phone even when I have work that I need to do. Little things are big things; they accumulate. Thinking kind thoughts are of little use if the person doesn't know you, and doesn't know you're thinking about them.

The best thing we can do when tragedy strikes elsewhere is make sure love happens here. Make the small world you're a part of better as a fight against the spreading darkness.

Back on Monday, April 22, 2013, Rob Port reported that U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is proposing black powder control in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Port notes two possibly unintended consequences: (1) Restrictions on gunpowder hinder reloading of spent ammunition, which was one way around ammunition shortages. (2) Unable to get professionally-made black powder, some may resort to manufacturing their own, which will be lower quality and potentially more dangerous:

Here's the thing: Building explosives isn't hard. You can find recipes for making black powder and other explosives/incendiaries in library books. Of course, the problem with home-made black powder is that it's not very good. It'll go boom, just not as reliably.

By restricting access to professionally-made black powder, we're probably doing more to ensure more accidents with people trying to make powder at home than preventing the sort of terrible but, thankfully, rare attacks such as the one in Boston.

(UPDATE: See-Dubya calls my attention to this: One of the bombers bought a couple of large reloadable mortars with 24 shells at a fireworks store across the border in New Hampshire. The store's owner estimates he might have been able to harvest 1.5 pounds of black powder by dismantling the shells. Lautenberg's proposal wouldn't have caught a purchase like this.)

Writing at Next City, MIT urban planning student Andy Cook writes about the eerie quiet on the streets of Boston during the "shelter-in-place":

It was a strange walk studded with realizations of what my neighborhood looks like without the faces that usually draw my attention. There were things I pass everyday that I had never seen before. A cluster of low-slung row houses that had been standing for the last 100 years. Another home being built across the street -- how had I missed the gap that must have been there before? There were flowers, of course, everywhere, and the cashier that sold me a jar of ground coffee gave me the sweetest, saddest smile I've seen in a long time. The only sound I heard as I walked home was wind in the trees, and my own footsteps. My neighborhood was peaceful.

Further on in Cook's article, though, I get the distinct impression of "mission creep" in the realm of urban planning (see Neidlinger above about legislating to abolish human nature):

Many of us came to the department with a do-gooder mentality. We were motivated to pursue planning because we thought it could address the inequity we saw in the world. We felt (and feel) that structural inequality is at the root of societal problems we face on a daily basis, violence and despair among them. Planners are uniquely poised to bring a holistic approach to cumbersome and intractable issue....

More likely, [as professional planners] we'll have to make decisions about policies and resource allocations that help some and hurt others. The challenge of this is two-fold: To understand the complex systems well enough to plan for unintended consequences, and to make sure the consequences won't cause disruption or disenfranchisement that might lead a population to turn to violence as a means of protest, retribution or survival...

Deciphering the "why" behind the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt will be a long and contentious task. For some, it will begin and end with the biography of the bombers themselves. But we should press further, and follow with a close examination of the global systems that foster inequality, breeding hatred and violence internationally. We as Americans and as planners especially must never stop considering the unintended consequences of the systems we live by. We must measure impacts and decide when and how to retool those systems that are broken, that allow for days like Monday to occur.

Those of us who are Christians know that the ultimate brokenness is in the human heart. We can and should work to mitigate the effects of evil, and city planning can be a means to do so, but we will not be able to eradicate evil in this world.

abigaillitle.jpgTen years ago today, I awoke to radio news reports of a bus bombing in Haifa, Israel, killing 17 and injuring 53, including many school children. To us it was more than a report of a distant tragedy: Dear friends from MIT, working for the Baptist denomination in Israel, lived there with their five children.

Later in the day we got the terrible news that our friends' 14-year-old daughter, Abigail Litle, was one of those murdered when a 20-year-old Palestinian man boarded the bus she was on and detonated a shrapnel-laden vest.

The massacre got little attention in the American media, despite the fact that an American citizen was a victim, as if Palestinian mass murder was so ordinary as not to be newsworthy. But two weeks later, the media went nuts over the death of Rachel Corrie, a foolish young American woman who stood herself in front of a bulldozer to protect the infrastructure of the Palestinian murder machine.

The anti-Israeli terrorist group Hamas took credit for the Haifa massacre, and it was later learned that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent $25,000 as a reward to the family of the murderer.


In a just world, anyone involved a plot to massacre innocent civilians would be food for vultures. But in 2011, two of plotters of the Haifa bus mass murder, serving life sentences, were among those to be released in a prisoner exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa, sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were murdered, will be released and deported to Gaza. The list also includes Maedh Abu Sharakh, also convicted of plotting the Haifa bus bombing.

These men walk free, but the United States could prosecute them and others complicit in the murder and maiming of American citizens. A group called the Parents Forum for Justice (PFJ), American citizens whose children are victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel, have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act and related laws against using explosives to harm American citizens overseas:

Fadi Muhammad al-Jaaba, Maedh Abu Sharakh and Majdi Muhammad Amr, sentenced to multiple life terms for planning a 2003 Haifa bus bombing that claimed the lives of 17 people, among them 14-year-old American schoolgirl Abigail Leitel, were also let go in the deal and should be indicted by the US, the PFJ letter said.

"[Since their release] we have had to endure the sight of these unrepentant killers not only walking free but also being embraced as heroes, celebrated and honored by the communities to which they have now returned, and by the US-funded Palestinian Authority."

The group says that despite US anti-terror laws and assurances that authorities are investigating their cases, the Department of Justice has so far failed to indict or prosecute a single terrorist.

This is telling: According to Nathan Lewin, a former official in the US Department of Justice, the DOJ has extradited and prosecuted terrorists under these laws -- just not Palestinian terrorists who murdered Americans in Israel:

Prosecutions have been brought in American federal courts against individuals responsible for bombings that killed Americans in the Philippines, Colombia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Many of the individuals accused of these crimes were brought here for trial following their extradition, on the request of the United States, from foreign countries. American prosecutors have not, however, charged the Hamas perpetrators of bombings in Israel such as the 2001 and 2003 bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa, even though American citizens were murdered in these attacks. They have relied on the Israeli legal process to arrest and punish the perpetrators.

Tamimi, al-Jabaa, Sharakh, Amr, and Dar Musa were prosecuted and convicted in Israeli courts. They and other perpetrators of these murders received either multiple sentences of life imprisonment or long prison terms. Until they were released by Israel's government under duress in order to bring Gilad Shalit home, they expected to spend the rest of their lives in Israeli prisons. They are now free in Jordan or Gaza.

The Department of Justice should now indict, extradite, and put to trial in United States courts, under American law, these killers of American citizens.

Don't hold your breath. The U. S. federal bureaucracy seems institutionally hostile to Israel's right to existence and self-defense. I would like to say that things are better under Republican administrations, but that's not true. An op-ed in the Jerusalem Post noted that the State Department's 2004 report on human rights didn't name any of the victims of Palestinian terrorism in the previous year:

Of course, it duly notes that the PA security services have themselves conducted terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Yet aside from condemning every action Israel has taken to combat terrorism and thereby equating actions aimed at protecting Israeli citizens with terrorism, the report does something even more offensive.

The report very sensitively gives the names of a dozen or so Palestinian children who died during Israeli assaults against Palestinian terrorists who used these children for cover. Yet, grotesquely, while the names of Palestinian children are listed, the report provides not one name of any Israeli victim of Palestinian terrorism. Not the Ohayon children, not 14-year-old Abigail Litle who was murdered on a bus on her way home from school and not the names of hundreds of other Israeli men, women and children who were murdered last year.

By naming Palestinian victims while not giving names of Israeli victims, the State Department report follows in the path of the general climate that has gripped us for the past 40 months. This general climate is characterized by the dehumanization of Israelis and Jews by the international community.

Last year Rachel Corrie's family sued the Israeli Defense Forces. In the run-up to the trial, the US State Department told Corrie's family "that the Israeli government has not been thorough or credible in their investigation of her death" and expressed its condolences over the dismissal of the family's suit.

Maybe this attitude is a carryover from the 1940s, when the State Department was riddled with Communists working to keep America on the sidelines as their Stalinist and Maoist comrades enslaved hundreds of millions of eastern Europeans and Chinese. Their modern counterparts must want to see Israel pushed into the sea, since at every opportunity they push for Israel to appease terror groups like Hamas and they express sympathy with the murderers and their allies. The continued existence of Israel and the Jewish people, testifying to the sovereignty of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, must be terribly offensive to leftists who want us all to worship government as our god.

What of the Litle family? About a year ago, freelance journalist Nicole Schiavi interviewed the Litles for Charisma magazine:

Now, almost nine years removed from the tragedy that tore one of their children from them, the Litles have further settled in Israel rather than return to the relative safety of America.

The family's grieving and healing process included entrenching themselves in the land they call home. The family applied for residency--a right due them as victims of terrorism; Heidi trained to be a medic and volunteered with the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross; their children all have joined the army.

Josiah, the oldest, joined a combat unit. Hannah serves in Israel's navy. Elishua took up fencing and duels with an Israeli national team. He and Noah, the youngest, will be drafted in the next few years.

"They all want to serve," Heidi says. "They all think it's the right thing to do."

After losing one child to a war not their own, it wasn't easy for the Litles to watch their children volunteer for the army--mandatory for citizens, but not incumbent upon residents. Despite that, Philip believes it is part of the family's responsibility of living in Israel.

"I've enjoyed the protection of the state of Israel the whole time I've been here," he says. "My children feel very much that they have enjoyed that and that it's the right thing to serve what they see is their country. If other children serve to make me safe, then my children have no special privileges."...

The Litles counted the cost before they crossed the Atlantic, yet no one could have imaged that cost would be Abigail, the second child and eldest daughter, who was 7 months old when they arrived in Israel.

"We felt called to come here, called to tie our lives to the people. Abigail's death is a part of the struggle," Philip says. "It is something to be expected when you choose to identify with a people and live your life for their benefit."

In a 2009 interview, Heidi Litle, Abigail's mother, spoke about how their Christian faith gave them the hope they needed to stay together after the tragedy. She also answered a question about the ongoing attacks from Palestinian terrorists:

I guess I'm not convinced that the political issues are the real issues involved, that it's really an issue of people's hearts. When hatred is being sown in people's hearts, nothing can come from it but war.... I think that Israel should be allowed to defend herself from the hatred that's being poured out on her.

Please keep the Litle family and the families of other victims of Palestinian terrorism in your prayers, and work and pray for the defeat of those who are sowing hatred in the hearts of young Palestinians.

MORE:

Remembering Abigail Litle, a victim of hate: My March 2003 column on the Haifa massacre.

Remembering Abigail Litle, a victor in faith: The reflections of Philip Litle, Abigail's father, on her death and funeral from April 2003.

BatesLine post on the fifth anniversary, with links to other commentary.

Giuliano Meiotti includes Abigail Litle in a long list of victims of Palestinian violence who had been actively working to promote peace and coexistence. Abigail was part of the "Children Teaching Children" program which brought together students at Israeli and Arab schools.

In March 2003, former Middle East correspondent Tom Gross reviewed the New York Times coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and found a blind eye to Palestinian attacks on civilians that impedes prospects for peace:

On the next day (March 5), another American Baptist, 14-year-old Abigail Litle, was among 16 people killed by a suicide bomber on a bus in Haifa, Israel. The story and photo caption in the March 6 Times, tucked at the bottom corner of page 1, made no mention of Abigail's name. Neither the headline nor the photo caption indicated that an American had died, or that the suicide bomber had deliberately chosen a bus packed with schoolchildren, or that a majority of those killed had been teenagers....

The lack of prominence given to Litle's death is one small example of what has become a familiar pattern at the Times. The paper downplays Israeli suffering, and de-emphasizes Yasser Arafat's responsibility for the suffering of Israelis and ordinary Palestinians alike.

On March 21, 2003, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) mentioned Abigail Litle in his speech in support of the Koby Mandell Act (S. 684, 108th Congress), creating an Office for Overseas Victims of Terrorism in the Department of Justice.

It's a week old now, but here's Bret Baier's report on the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on 9/11/2012. The timeline begins with the revolution to topple Moammar Ghadafi in 2011 and moves through the months that followed, including an assassination attempt on the British ambassador in June 2012. Those on the ground discuss the efforts to convince higher-ups to keep the same levels of security in Libya, as security incidents increased. The report continues through the Obama administration's response over the following weeks.

It ought to make you very angry.

Since this report, it's emerged that there may have been American close air support nearby to take out the forces attacking Americans in Benghazi. A ground laser designator was used to identify a target for destruction by US firepower in the air, such as an AC-130U gunship. Requests for help were denied.

20120127-Coburn-Levin-PSIhearing.jpgA Senate subcommittee staff report just released says that state and local fusion centers, backed by "somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion" in federal funds, "have been unable to meaningfully contribute to federal counterterrorism efforts" and that the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "does not adequately oversee its financial support for fusion centers." Many centers, the report states, "didn't consider counterterrorism an explicit part of their mission, and federal officials said some were simply not concerned with doing counterterrorism work."

The report is the result of a two-year-long bipartisan probe into federally-funded fusion centers instigated by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, prepared jointly by the majority and minority staff of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The report will be released Wednesday morning, October 3, 2012, on the subcommittee's website.

The investigation looked at "more than a year's worth of intelligence reporting from centers, conducting a nationwide survey of fusion centers, and examining thousands of pages of financial records and grant documentation." Despite combing through 13 months of fusion center reporting, the "Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.

The report cites money wasted on SUVs, televisions, and surveillance equipment unnecessary to the mission, non-existent fusion centers that nonetheless are funded by DHS, and worthless "intelligence reports" that waste the time of DHS counterterrorism analysts, including some that, contrary to law, reported on U. S. citizens lawfully exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

Worse yet, "senior DHS officials were aware of the problems... but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner." DHS conducted two assessments of fusion centers, in 2010 and 2011, finding "widespread deficiencies" and "ongoing weaknesses." When the Senate subcommittee requested a copy of the 2010 assessment, "DHS at first denied it existed, then disputed whether it could be shared with Congress, before ultimately providing a copy."

Fusion centers are funded by DHS through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs and provides support services through its State and Local Program Office (DLPO). While fusion centers may be useful for state, local, and tribal governments to pursue traditional criminal investigations, the purpose behind federal support for fusion centers was because of their potential value in supporting DHS's counterterrorism efforts, by spotting threat information to be shared with and analyzed by DHS.

MORE: G. W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting has been covering stories of wasteful Homeland Security spending for years. Schulz and fellow CIR reporter Andrew Becker have an analysis of the Senate report on fusion centers.

The nation's vast network of anti-terrorism "fusion centers" for law enforcement have produced shoddy, untimely and often useless intelligence reports that have done little to keep the U.S. safer, a scathing U.S. Senate report concludes.

The 141-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, identified problems with nearly every significant aspect of the Department of Homeland Security's more than 70 fusion centers, which were designed for law enforcement to coordinate their intelligence gathering.

The report marks one of the most blistering indictments to date of the Department of Homeland Security's domestic intelligence operation. The department, investigators conclude, "has not attempted to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the value federal taxpayers have received for that investment."

(Tulsa readers will no doubt recall the very thorough features and investigative stories that Schulz produced for Urban Tulsa Weekly as the paper's city reporter about seven years ago.)

I don't remember exactly what I was doing this morning at 7:46 a.m. Central time, eleven years to the minute after Islamic radicals flew a large commercial jetliner into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, but I was probably scrambling to find a working copier to copy the quiz over the definite article, first declension masculine nouns, and the imperfect tense to give to five students who likely had no idea where they were when the first aircraft hit the North Tower or the second aircraft hit the South Tower or the third aircraft hit the Pentagon or the fourth aircraft plowed up a field in southwestern Pennsylvania.

I knew where one of my five students had been at that moment, because he had been riding in the backseat of my car, excited about another day of school -- his third ever -- as we drove south on Yale toward 51st and heard Michael DelGiorno, then the host on KTBZ (The Buzz, in its brief incarnation as a news-talk station), report a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center tower -- surely a bizarre accident. By the time I picked my son up from school at noon, it had all unfolded, and but I kept the radio off, trying to shield his ears from the news, trying to enjoy a visit to the zoo on a cloudless September day.

In retrospect it would have been appropriate for me to deviate from Attic grammar for a few minutes at the beginning of class today to talk about what happened, to describe the fear and the worry we felt in Tulsa, far from New York and Washington but only 100 miles from what had been until that moment the worst terrorist attack on American soil, to tell some of the stories told by New York friends of the chaos of that day, to tell of a family's anxious search through New York for former Tulsan Jayesh Shah, the sad conclusion to that quest, and the grieving wife, mother, children, and brother he left behind. I should have told them about the touching memorial service a month later and showed them the model of the Twin Towers and Pentagon -- a remembrance from Jay's family.

My students and their peers need to know that the attack was no historical abstraction. It involved Americans like themselves, their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, who were merely going about their business on 9/11/2001 when terrorists took their lives in the name of Islam.

My students need to know that the hijackers fueled their hate by listening to radical Islamist preachers right here in the United States and that the demands of political correctness led authorities to turn a deaf ear to the sermons of hate. They need to know that the hijackers used the infrastructure of illegal immigrant day labor to acquire the fake IDs that got them aboard the planes.

They need to know that a Muslim in their own city who wrote an op-ed condemning terror in the name of Islam was harassed and threatened at his place of worship. They should know that in 2008, at a Burger King two miles away from their school, a State Trooper tackled and disarmed a man with a Glock who was praying to Allah for strength to carry out his mission.

They need to know that what happened 11 years ago was the culmination of an Islamist war on America that dates back at least as far as the 1979 Iranian assault on the American Embassy in Tehran. They need to know that the assault continued today as mobs attacked the American Embassy in Cairo and the American Consulate in Benghazi under the watchful eyes of newly installed Islamist-friendly governments in Egypt and Libya. And they need to know about our government's weak and apologetic response and clumsy cleanup.

My students and their peers need to understand that we cannot take a holiday from history, as much as we might wish we could. We're training them to be leaders of the future. They need to understand the world in which they must lead.

As Michelle Malkin wrote in 2003, we need remembrance, resolve, and action to deal with the inconvenient, frightening realities today's leaders all too often seem all too afraid to face.

MORE:

My post on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with links to first-hand accounts of the day and its aftermath.

David French: 9/11: The Case for Controlled and Sustained Rage

Britain's Channel 4 cancels screening of "Islam: The Untold Story" under threat of violence

Victor Davis Hanson: Ripples of 9/11

The chant of the Egyptian mob that attacked our embassy: "Obama! Obama! There are still a billion Osamas!"

James Lileks blog entry on the day after

James Lileks' 2009 reflections

And finally this: A brief debunking of the "9/11: A Conspiracy Theory" video making the rounds on Facebook today. Follow the links for a more detailed rebuttal.

STILL MORE:

Karol Markowicz on the impulse behind trooferism, both old and new:

It's much easier to continue hating George W. Bush -- to focus on bogus charges that he sat back and did nothing while his country was attacked -- than it is to understand nameless, faceless people who still want us dead today.

Both types of truthers want something else to be the reality. They want someone safe to blame, someone who didn't chop off Daniel Pearl's head and doesn't blow himself up to advance a cause we find bizarre.

The government, and the Bush administration specifically, is that safe target. Better to insist that the Bushies just screwed up than to acknowledge that we remain under threat, that (even with those restrictions on cooperation removed) our government may not be able to stop some future attack.

That truth is just too scary to face.

Julie Neidlinger was traveling by Amtrak on September 11, 2001, a journey planned as part of a vacation. She recalls the sense of isolation from the news, but feeling the impact through all the accidental tourists using Amtrak to replace cancelled business flights.

STILL MORE:

On the first anniversary of the attacks, my wife and I sang as part of a choir of 65 voices, members of the Coventry Chorale, the Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Holland Hall School Concert Chorus, accompanied by members of the Tulsa Philharmonic. The event was part of a worldwide "Rolling Requiem" to perform Mozart's Requiem in every timezone, beginning at the time of the attacks in each timezone, so that this musical remembrance of the dead would roll around the world for 24 hours. In his blog, James Watts, arts critic of the Tulsa World, remembers the event:

While I -- as do most Americans -- remember where I was and what I was doing on Sept. 11, 2001, what I prefer to remember on this day is where I was on Sept. 11, 2002....

At the conclusion of the Requiem, the powerful notes of "Quia pius es (For You are merciful)," the crowd rose to its feet and applauded for as long as it took for the singers and musicians to exit the sanctuary -- an ovation of nearly three minutes.

And as the crowd made its way outside the church, the bell at Trinity Episcopal began to sound. It would continue to sound at 12-second intervals throughout the day, until it had tolled 3,043 times: one for each victim of the Sept. 11 attacks.


A U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) money-laundering and forfeiture complaint filed Thursday, December 15, 2011, in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York lists a Tulsa company, Ace Auto Leasing, Inc., as the recipient of over $20 million in wire transfers from Lebanese financial institutions with links to Lebanese terrorist group Hizbollah ("The Party of God").

The DEA news release describes the alleged money-laundering scheme:

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced today the filing of a civil money-laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint (the "Complaint") alleging a massive, international scheme in which Lebanese financial institutions, including a bank and two exchange houses linked to Hizballah, used the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into Lebanon. As part of the scheme, funds were wired from Lebanon to the United States to buy used cars, which were then transported to West Africa. Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through Hizballah-controlled money laundering channels. Substantial portions of the cash were paid to Hizballah, which the U.S. Department of State designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997. As alleged in the Complaint, the Hizballah-linked financial institutions involved in the scheme include the Lebanese Canadian Bank ("LCB") and two Lebanese exchange houses - the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company and Ellissa Holding - and their related subsidiaries and affiliates.

The two exchange houses are listed as defendants, and their assets, along with the assets of 30 used car dealers in the United States (including Ace Auto Leasing, Inc.), are named as defendants in rem.

A New York Times graphic from Tuesday, December 13, 2011, depicts the complex flow of money in the alleged money-laundering scheme. Funds from car sales in west Africa and profits from European drug sales wound up in Benin, where the funds were shipped to exchange houses in Lebanon. Some of those funds went to Hizbollah, some money went back to the US via the Lebanese Canadian Bank to buy more used cars, which were shipped to west Africa for sale.

According to page 49 of the DEA complaint (75-page PDF), Ace Auto Leasing Inc. received 219 wire transfers totalling $20,241,183, with the following breakdown by originator:

Hassan Ayash Exchange 4
$418,641
Mohamad Hassan Hammoud 42
$5,101,035
Fadi Hammoud 5
$454,300
Fadi Star 43
$5,030,006
Khodor Fakih 6
$688,974
Ali Fakih 4
$289,704
Fakih for General Trade 11
$694,266
Others
104
$7,564,257

Pages 34-35 of the complaint explain what the Hassan Ayash Exchange is:

E. Hassan Ayash Exchange Company

46. The Hassan Ayash Exchange Company is a money exchange based in Beirut, Lebanon. The Hassan Ayash Exchange is owned and controlled by Mahmoud Hassan Ayash ("Hassan Ayash") and his son, Hassan Mahmoud Ayash. The exchange's principal office is located adjacent to the Caesar Park Hotel in Beirut, which is owned by Ayman Joumaa.

47. Wire transfers originating from the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company totaling approximately $141,522,091 were sent to United States accounts for the purpose of purchasing or shipping cars between in or about January 2007 and in or about January 2011.

48. Hassan Ayash and the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company facilitate bulk cash transfers and money laundering by, among others, Ayman Joumaa and Joumaa's narcotics trafficking and money laundering network.

49. Hassan Ayash has stated that he has family ties to Hizballah, including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah. Hassan Ayash has further stated that his connections to important people in Lebanon help him provide services for clients of the Hassan Ayash Exchange. Hassan Ayash requires that an existing client of the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company vouch for a prospective client before the prospective client can establish an account with the exchange to transfer large amounts of money.

Here's what pp 47-48 of the complaint states about the other names mentioned above:

c. Khodor Fakih is a Hizballah member from Kafra, Lebanon, who now works in the car business in Cotonou, Benin. Khodor Fakih and Ali Fakih are believed to own and control Fakih for General Trade. From approximately January 2007 through early 2011, Khodor Fakih, Ali Fakih, and Fakih for General Trade wired approximately $2,589,325 to the U.S. relating to buying and shipping cars.

d. Fadi Hassan Hammoud and Mohammad Hassan Hammoud own and operate Fadi Star, a shipping company in Cotonou, Benin. Mohammad Hammoud is a Hizballah supporter from Kafra, Lebanon, and has done business with Khodor Fakih. From approximately January 2007 through early 2011, Fadi Star, Mohammad Hassan Hammoud, and Fadi Hassan Hammoud wired approximately $11,382,906 to the U.S. relating to buying and shipping cars.

KTUL seems to be the first local news outlet to pick up this story. They interviewed DEA Agent Derek Maltz:

He says the investigation is still ongoing and it's questionable whether or not the dealership owners knew they were helping Hezbollah.

"We do not have detailed specific information on what these car dealership owners knew we will investigate it jointly with our partners in the United States and hopefully we will shut them down," says Maltz.

While we again mourn the dead and recall the shock of 9/11/2001, we mustn't forget the path that led to 9/11 -- the Islamist preachers and philosophers who inspired the attacks, the jihadis who carried them out, and the mixture of immigration laxity and political correctness that enabled the attacks to succeed.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of spending most of the morning with See-Dubya, a sometime guest blogger for Michelle Malkin. After breakfast, See-Dubya pointed out a number of landmarks in the Falls Church area. See-Dubya pointed out the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, where Anwar al-Awlaqi preached hatred against America and Nidal Hasan (the Ft. Hood gunman) sat under his preaching. It tells you something about this area that a restaurant named Al-Jazeera Garden could stay in business for any length of time.

SD001122

(The restaurant in question is Yemeni, the name means "The Island", and it appears they've since relocated elsewhere in Falls Church under a slightly different English transliteration of the name.)

One of the landmarks See-Dubya pointed out, just a tenth of a mile away from the above photo, is a 7-Eleven convenience store on Leesburg Pike. Today, in a special appearance on MichelleMalkin.com, See-Dubya explains the connections between 9/11 and this particular 7-Eleven, a haven for day laborers less than a mile down the road from Dar al-Hijrah.

This particular 7-11 (you can see the sign, and the workers, in the background, through the monsoon) is in Falls Church, Virginia, on the Leesburg Pike, just down the road from the Dar al-Hijrah mosque. Ten years ago, a charismatic imam named Anwar al-Awlaki manned the pulpit there, and a U.S. soldier named Nidal Hasan listened to his sermons in the congregation.

In fact just a little over ten years ago a couple of worshipers from Dar al-Hijrah drove up to this particular 7-11. They weren't really interested in hiring the day laborers so much as getting someone to help them acquire forged identification. That turned out to be a fellow named Luis A. Martinez-Flores, himself an illegal immigrant, and he walked the two Arabs, Hani Hanjour and Khaled Almidhar, through the process of getting Virginia ID cards--after which they returned to this particular 7-11, withdrew $100 from the ATM, and handed it to Mr. Martinez-Flores....

Hanjour and Almidhar and three other young Arab men used those fake IDs (and three more derived from them) to board American Airlines Flight 77, hijack it, and fly it into the Pentagon.

See-Dubya writes that the 7-Eleven, still operating and in use as an unofficial day-labor center (check out Google Street View) is a monument to America's failure to recognize the connections between our lax enforcement of immigration laws and our vulnerability to terrorist attacks:

You would think the first thing that the newly-formed Department Homeland Security would have done would be to raid this particular labor market, frequented by illegal aliens and the document fraudsters that enable them to feign legitimacy, and shut it down for good. This is the site of our immigration policy's greatest, most shameful failure, after all. Of course, ten years on, it's just business as usual and the shame and failure continue unabated. There's no marker to commemorate what happened there. You'd never know anything historically significant had happened there ten years ago.

You'd have no indication at that particular 7-11 what a petty, commonplace, wretched little conspiracy was committed, and what a dreadful, monstrous crime was thereby abetted. That was where and when our self-deception about the illegal labor market and the security risks it presents caught up to us. Everyone should know this place. Everyone should vow that what happened there will never be permitted to happen again.

It's somewhat surprising that there hasn't been a civil action against the owner of this store for tolerating (if not harboring) the illegal activity that made one of the 9/11 attacks possible. For what it's worth, the Fairfax County property database lists as owner:

LIDE BEVERLY SMITH
CARE SOUTHLAND CORP
P O BOX 711
DALLAS TX 75221

which suggests that it's corporate-owned, not a franchise. The last sale recorded was 12/31/1966.

MORE:

The Path to 9/11, a miniseries dramatizing the events that began with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing leading to September 11, but grounded in documented facts, aired on ABC on the fifth anniversary in 2006, but despite public demand, it has never been released on DVD. According to the program's writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, the problem is political:

The normal time frame from broadcast to DVD for miniseries and movies is approximately four months. Originally I was told by ABC that the DVD release date of Path would be in January [2007]. January came and went, and I was told June was the new release date. Then July. Now ABC's official statement is, "We have not decided on a release date at this time." No further explanation.

But privately, I was told by an ABC executive that "If Hillary weren't running for President, this wouldn't be a problem." The clear message is that ABC/Disney isn't eager to reopen the wound or feel the pressure again from politicians anxious to whitewash their legacy. They would rather just let the miniseries die a quiet death. Executive Producer Marc Platt, a well-known Hollywood Liberal, even had to finance the limited Emmy campaign himself because Disney/ABC refused to do so (which is unheard of for such a high-profile production). This passive self-censorship is just as effective as anything Joseph Stalin or Big Brother could impose; the result is the same, the curbing of free speech and creative expression, and the suppression of a viewpoint that may be an inconvenient truth for some politicians....

The issue is that corporate timidity is preventing millions of Americans from finding The Path to 9/11 on DVD - though other politically controversial movies are readily available, such as Loose Change, which argues that the Bush administration targeted American citizens for death in an elaborate and sinister plot; or Michael Moore's unabashedly biased Fahrenheit 9/11. These highly-charged movies, which don't even offer a pretense of balance, and others can be found online or in retail outlets and DVD rental stores across the country - and so they should be, just as The Path to 9/11 should be.

The documentary is being screened at a theater in Los Angeles today but is otherwise unavailable to the viewing public. (If you do some searching, however, you might find a torrent (ahem) of information about The Path to 9/11.) A documentary called Blocking the Path to 9/11 describes the pressure placed on ABC to cut certain scenes and dialogue and includes some of the deleted scenes.

Remembering 9/11: Ten years

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Take a moment to remember University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, and to pray for his family, who are there at Ground Zero for today's commemorations. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search for some hopeful word.

Links, thoughts from myself and others:

Hot Air's Allahpundit was in his downtown Manhattan apartment when the planes hit the towers. Two years ago he serialized his memories on Twitter; Lori Ziganto put them in order and posted them on her blog for posterity. [Fear not: Despite her blog's name, it is entirely safe for work.]

Gerard Vanderleun watched events unfold from across the East River in Brooklyn Heights. He had been online on a message board, posting his reflections; these are his contemporaneous notes of the attack and aftermath.

Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey back to his home in New Jersey.

Robert N. Going went to Ground Zero as a volunteer at a respite center in November 2001. He has reposted his diary of four weeks there.

Also on Robert's site: The reflections of legendary baseball player Buck O'Neil, then 90, on the first anniversary of the attacks:

America was asleep. We were all sleeping. We had seen these kinds of men before with bombs tied to their bodies, killing people in Israel and Ireland and other places. These men were heroes to their people. They were martyrs to their families. Their mothers and fathers were proud of them for killing, you understand? We all knew what was happening over there.

But that was over there. We thought it would always be over there. We were fast asleep. And what happened? We took these murderers in. We taught them how to fly. We are such a trusting country. Yes, you can see how it happened.

Here Is New York: A photographic witness to the events of 9/11 by thousands of amateur photographers. (We had the privilege of seeing this powerful exhibit in person when it was shown in Tampa in fall 2002.)

The Telegraph: 9/11: How the drama unfolded aboard Air Force One, inside the White House bunker and at the Pentagon

History Channel: Witness to 9/11: 102 minutes that changed America: Videos from eyewitnesses around New York City.

From 2010: Remembering 9/11: Where I was when I heard: My personal recollections of the day and the weeks following.

As on each previous anniversary of the September 11, 2001, jihadi attacks on America, Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th and Cincinnati, will mark the day with a choral requiem, beginning at 8:46 a.m., the time when the north tower of the World Trade Center was hit. This year, the Trinity Choir will perform Gabriel Faure's Requiem as part of the service of Holy Communion. (On September 11, 2002, Trinity was one of hundreds of venues worldwide to take part in the "Rolling Requiem," performing Mozart's Requiem in each time zone at 8:46 a.m.)

Floral Haven, 6500 S. 129th East Ave., Broken Arrow, offers a quieter remembrance:

Floral Haven will pay tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 with a special remembrance on September 11, 2011. This solemn memorial will take place on the grounds of the funeral home between the main building and 129th East Avenue

This memorial remembrance will include:

  • A Bronze Memorial, honoring those who died, which will later be permanently placed in our Family Center.
  • Three panels, which will include:
    1. The names of the people killed in the World Trade Center North and South Towers, the Pentagon and on American and United Flights 11, 175, 77 and 93.
    2. A list of the First Responders who died in this tragedy.
    3. The timing of the four major events of September 11th.
    4. A list of the other nations who lost citizens in this attack
  • Eight large flags, each representing one of the distinct groups of people killed
  • A display of 2976 smaller American Flags, each bearing the name of a victim killed on September 11th.
  • A guest book to sign in remembrance
  • This memorial will be on display on September 11, 2011 for the entire day.

This will be a solemn and silent remembrance. There will be no formal program or speakers. Just as the Oklahoma City National Memorial pays a beautiful and silent tribute to those killed in the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, so will this one day remembrance pay a quiet and solemn tribute to those killed on September 11, 2001. Those attending will be invited to read the panels, walk among the flags and reflect on this attack and the lives that were so senselessly ended.

It is only right and proper that on the 10th Anniversary that we take a moment of time and reflect, not only on those who were lost, but also one how all of our lives were forever changed by this event.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declined to issue the executive order necessary to reauthorize the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council, according to a story in the Oklahoman.

Fallin had 90 days after she took office in January to decide whether to extend the life of the councils, which were formed by executive orders issued by two earlier governors; Democrat Brad Henry formed the ethnic-American council and Republican Frank Keating formed councils dealing with Hispanic and Asian-American affairs.

Fallin deserves credit for taking the right step, given the predictable backlash from CAIR and their allies. The misleadingly named group, supported with state funds, was not about all ethnic groups or even all Middle Eastern cultures. Middle Eastern Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha'i were not given a seat at the table.

GEEAC would have been more accurately called the Governor's Islamic PR Council. In May 2007, the chairman of GEEAC sought an on-air opportunity to respond to the public TV series America at a Crossroads:

The Governor's Ethnic-American Advisory Council requested a chance to set the record straight after previewing the series before it ran on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority from April 15 through 20.

"We thought there were a couple of segments that did not put Islam in a positive light," said Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, the council's chairman.

Later in 2007, GEEAC (an agency of the State of Oklahoma, remember) offered a special centennial edition of the Koran to legislators; legislators who politely refused were publicly excoriated. An story on the Koran controversy by Brian Ervin included quotes from GEEAC chairman that confirmed the group's purpose -- advocating for Islam in Oklahoma.

"The name wasn't of my choosing, but we were happy with it. You'd have to ask the Governor why we're called that," she said.

She offered her best guess, though.

"The thing is, Islam is not limited to the Middle East--there are Muslims of West African descent and other nationalities from around the world," said Seirafi-Pour.

"If it had been called the 'Middle Eastern American Advisory Council,' it would have limited membership to Muslims of Middle Eastern descent," she added.

Seirafi-Pour was as clear on the purpose of GEEAC as Governor Henry was deliberately obtuse.

Thanks to Gov. Fallin for disbanding this inappropriate and deceptive use of taxpayer dollars and government imprimatur. Thanks to blogs like zTruth and columnists like Diana West for helping to shine a light and keep the pressure on. Thanks to legislators like State Rep. Mike Reynolds and former State Rep. Rex Duncan helping to shine the light on GEEAC's activities. And thanks to all the BatesLine readers who took action, turning reports on these pages into a positive result at the State Capitol.

TSA grope-gate

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Links on the TSA's "enhanced pat-downs," the "alternative" to the scanner that shows you naked.

boingboing: Man at San Diego airport opts out of porno scanner and grope, told he'll be fined $10K unless he submits to fondling. The man got cellphone video of his encounter with TSA officers. (Here's a transcript of the first of three segments.)

PNC-Minnesota Bureau: Rape Survivor Devastated by TSA Enhanced Pat Down (NOTE: The link leads to the "Pagan News Collective" website, and the rape survivor quoted below is a Wiccan; thus the "Goddess" reference.)

"He started at one leg and then ran his hand up to my crotch. He cupped and patted my crotch with his palm. Other flyers were watching this happen to me. At that point I closed my eyes and started praying to the Goddess for strength. He also cupped and then squeezed my breasts. That wasn't the worst part. He touched my face, he touched my hair, stroking me. That's when I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped. There's no way I can fly again. I can't do it."

If you dress modestly, your modesty will be violated. This woman (a commenter on the previous article) was willing to go through the scanner, but the TSA didn't like her choice of clothing:

I was pulled aside for a pat down in Phx's Sky Harbour Airport in October. They pulled me aside because I was wearing an ankle-length skirt. The agent told me that the TSA cannot specifially tell people what they can and cannot wear, but they will do pat downs on every person wearing ankle-length skirts on planes. The female agent told me I had two choices: I could go to a room and strip NAKED in front of a TSA officer, or they could pat me down in full view of the other passengers. She said the pat down would require her to touch my genitals. Well, gosh - be groped in public or naked alone in front of a stanger? Such options. When I said neither option was great, she said I wouldnt be escorted from the airport if I didnt comply. Duress much? I have to give you my full name, my birthdate, my gender and now I HAVE to let you humiliate me in public (or oogle my naked body in provate)?? Wow. This cant be the only way.

If only she had worn a burka, she'd have been left alone.

Melissa Clouthier tells of a harrowing TSA encounter from 2002, when unfeeling TSA agents separated her from her baby daughter in a stroller and her two-year old autistic son with a tendency to roam:

My son was walking away from me, looking after the direction his dad went and wanting to follow. He was about twenty five feet away from me, when I tried to go get him, the TSA agent restrained me and said,"Ma'am you need to stay here."

When I tried to explain about my son, she would have none of it. I was reduced to yelling to him to stay, don't go anywhere.

Hysteria rose in my throat. At this point, being felt up by the female agent mattered little to me. My children were separated from me, my son shuffling around, my daughter sitting 20 feet away in a stroller, hundreds of people milling through the Houston airport and I was terrified that someone would grab one or both of my children and I would be helpless to stop it.

And the TSA agents did not care. As I write this, my heart is pounding....

The TSA regulations make average citizens miserable while the real medicine-an Israeli-type profiling would actually make a security difference. But no. Security placebos for Americans.

I share this story to provide additional evidence of the overreach of the TSA. It's time for Congress to clip back these inane regulations.

It's time for Americans to resist this tyranny. When average Americans have more to fear from their government than from some radical Muslim terrorist jerk, the balance has been tipped.

I have managed to avoid flying very much this year, despite a lot of travel, although I haven't been able to avoid it entirely. I actually like being up in the air, and I get a window seat as often as possible so I can watch the scenery and try to deduce our location. But I hate the process of getting from the ticket counter (actually quite painless these days) to the plane. For all the restrictions and all the advanced technology, you have to get even more undressed and undone now for the nekkid scanners than you do for the X-ray machines. I have to pack once to get my stuff to the airport, repack and rearrange to get through security in an efficient manner, and then rearrange again, particularly if it's a small plane and the roll-aboard has to be gate-checked.

We have a pretty good idea of the sort of person who would try to blow up a plane while on board. While we might still need X-rays and metal detectors to deter the old-fashioned kind of hijacker that just wanted a free trip to Cuba, the new-fangled suicide hijacker should be more easily detected. Offer every male passenger between the ages of 18 and 45 a pulled-pork sandwich or a beer; if you won't consume either one, you get the special scope-and-grope. (Some non-yeasty alcohol would be provided for Passover.)

Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris is "going ghost" -- "moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity" at the insistence of the FBI, according to a story a September 15, 2010, story in the Seattle Weekly. (Via GWSchulzCIR on Twitter.)

She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program--except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It's all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoon.

The fatwa came in July from Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born imam based in Yemen who has been linked to "misunderstanders of Islam" (Robert Spencer's tongue-in-cheek phrase) who have attempted and successfully carried out terror attacks in the U. S., including Fort Hood, Times Square, Fort Dix, and Northwest Airlines (the Pantybomber).

Here is what Awlaki allegedly wrote about Norris in Inspire, an English language magazine allegedly produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula:

A cartoonist out of Seattle, Washington, named Molly Norris started the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". This snowball rolled out from between her evil fingers. She should be taken as a prime target of assassination along with others who participated in her campaign. This campaign is not a practice of freedom of speech, but is a nationwide mass movement of Americans joining their European counterparts in going out of their way to offend Muslims worldwide. They are expressing their hatred of the Messenger of Islām صلى الله عليه وسلم through ridicule. The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from in addition to the difficulty of the government offering all of them special protection. But even then our campaign should not be limited to only those who are active participants.

The article goes on to implicate the entire Western political system with its guarantees of free speech:

The main elements in this system are the laws that make this blasphemy legal. Because they are practicing a "right" that is defended by the law, they have the backing of the entire Western political system. This would make the attacking of any Western target legal from an Islāmic viewpoint. The entire Western system is staunchly protecting and promoting the defamation of Muĥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and therefore, it is the entire Western system that is at war with Islām. Assassinations, bombings, and acts of arson are all legitimate forms of revenge against a system that relishes the sacrilege of Islām in the name of freedom.

The FBI took the threat seriously enough to tell Norris to drop out of sight. No doubt authorities took the threat more seriously after the explosion in a Copenhagen on September 11, 2010. Based on a map found in the hotel room, the bomb may have been intended for the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published cartoons depicting Mohammed in 2005 in a protest against Western self-censorship to appease radical Muslim sensibilities.

From the New York Daily News story from July:

David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the "very serious threat."

"We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target," Gomez said.

I wish Molly Norris all the best in her new life, but it's unacceptable that American citizens should have to "change their behavior to make themselves less of a target" in order to avoid getting killed by a self-appointed divine hit squad because of a rather gentle bit of satire, aimed more at the sensibilities of Islamofascists than at the prophet himself.

How should, how can, a freedom-loving nation respond to such threats? Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch writes that at the very least the President of the United States should denounce the threats:

This is the sort of case that the President of the United States should be talking about. Instead of wringing his hands about the prospect of Muslim rioting over Qur'an-burning, the President should go on television and give a brief lesson about how freedom of speech is a foremost bulwark against tyranny and a cornerstone of any society that respects the dignity of the human being. He should say that the idea that Molly Norris would have to live in hiding because of a cartoon, or series of cartoons, is unconscionable, and tell the Islamic world that neither Muslims nor their prophet are harmed by cartoons depicting him, and that their violent rage over such depictions is the only thing that makes people care to draw him in the first place. He should say that to threaten people with death and to kill people over cartoons of Muhammad is sheer madness, and is a form of violent irrationality that is destructive to free societies -- and as such, it is something that the U.S. will do everything it can to resist. Molly Norris and others who are threatened will be given full round-the-clock protection, and if violent protests and riots over cartoons or Qur'an-burning break out in areas where American troops are deployed, those troops will put down those riots and protect the innocent to the fullest possible extent.

Maybe in January 2013 we will have a president who will see the need to do such things, and move to protect and defend Western culture and civilization.

Meanwhile, cases of "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" continue to occur (even in Tulsa), but are reported in ways that downplay the connection to radical Islamism. (For example, the apparent assassination attempt targeting Missouri governor Jay Nixon.) The reluctance of our nation's leaders and mainstream media to name the enemy that seeks the destruction of our liberty has inspired the subtitle of a documentary produced by Newt Gingrich, "America at Risk: The War with No Name."

I had thought that perhaps there would be a service nearby at the Pentagon today, and there will be, but it's a private service, so the memorial there will be closed until noon. So am taking time here at the hotel room desk to remember the events of that day, to remember why they happened, and to remember my friend Jayesh Shah, a graduate of Tulsa Memorial High School and TU, who was working at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center north tower that day.

I don't have anything profound to say today; just some personal memories of the day, the aftermath, and the very ordinary times that were interrupted. Before I get to those, here are some reflections and first-hand accounts of the attacks from other bloggers:

Gerard Vanderleun was watching from Brooklyn Heights when the towers fell, recording his observations online: "Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles."

Juliette Ochieng remembers the architect of the towers, Minoru Yamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. (Yamasaki also designed Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Tower and Performing Arts Center.)

Robert N. Going had been to New York City the day before the attacks to drop a foreign visitor off at the airport, pausing on the way for the guest to snap a photo of the skyline. He volunteered at Ground Zero, and he met the man who found the steel cross in the ruins of Building 6.

The Other McCain calls us to remember with the Falling Man documentary.

Midnight Blue Says remembers Cantor Fitzgerald employee Marcello Matricciano and uses clips from that day's morning news shows to remind us what was on the national mind before the towers were hit an hour later.

Now for my memories of the day (click continue reading if you're on the home page)...

An e-mail from a friend called my attention to this widely-circulated 2006 essay by Canadian blogger Paul E. Marek: "Why the Peaceful Majority Is Irrelevant." The title refers to the supposition that most Muslims are peace-loving, in contrast to the radicals who call for jihad against the West. Marek counters the idea by citing numerous examples from history where a peace-loving majority in a nation failed to stop a violent and radical minority from imprisoning and murdering millions.

The essay opens with Marek recalling a conversation with a German of noble birth:

"Very few people were true Nazis" he said, "but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."...

We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history....

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

I encourage you to read Marek's entire essay. Regular BatesLine readers will recall what happened in Tulsa to a peace-loving Muslim named Jamal Miftah after he published an op-ed column denouncing terrorism in the name of Islam.

In 2009, Marek wrote a second essay, expanding on the theme: Why the Peaceful Majority Might Be Dangerous. He tells the story of two Canadian Muslim young women who, though raised in the west, opted for the strictures of sharia:

Both Hardi and Mubarka present us with a perplexing conundrum because they are members of what has become known as the "peaceful" Muslim majority. They don't have a violent bone in their bodies, and are clearly law abiding and productive members of Canadian society. But, they are also both part of a very small minority within Canada where they and their fellow Muslims have very little effect on Canadian politics or on the evolution of Canadian cultural norms. What if though, Hardi and Mubarka were part of a Muslim majority where they and their co-religionists held the power?

Both women are Muslims first and Canadians second. No matter how much respect one may have for either woman's character, there is little doubt where either would place her loyalty if faced with choosing between the Canadian traditions of liberty for all, or Sharia. There is also little doubt that if they were part of a majority, they would acquiesce to the demands of the Muslim clerical class and choose Sharia for all Canadians.

It is therefore irrelevant in the grand scheme of things whether or not Hardi or Mubarka are "good" people; most people on the planet are, no matter their religion, race, or culture. What matters in the greater sense, is that as parts of the Muslim collective, neither woman would set aside her Muslim beliefs in order to safeguard and protect the full rights of non-Muslims to live as they choose. What's even more disturbing, is that both women have experienced the gender freedoms afforded them in Canada, yet both have voluntarily resigned themselves to the greater Muslim collective.

As long as each woman is part of a small minority within Canada, she offers Canada much; but once she becomes part of a significant minority, or heaven forbid, a majority, she becomes dangerous. Why? Because Muslims wherever they form a majority choose Islamic norms over the broader more tolerant standards of the West. If given a chance, as has been clearly demonstrated the world over, they would unravel hundreds of years of hard fought human rights gains and replace them with the medieval practices of their faith. As such, both Hardi and Mubarka are simply bit players in a monstrous and destructive Muslim vortex that would drag civilization backwards hundreds of years.

The Associated Press reported Sunday on a new development concerning the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for surveillance tapes from buildings near Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. After a long wait, four tapes were released, but Trentadue says there are missing sections on each tape just prior to the truck bomb blast that killed 168 people.

The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000 pound (1,815 kilogram) fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said.

"Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence," Trentadue said.

He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because "they had run out of tape" or "the tape was being replaced."

"The interesting thing is they spring back on after 9:02," he said. "The absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn't want anybody to see."

MORE:

Former KFOR-TV investigative reporter Jayna Davis, who continued to pursue leads relating to a third terrorist involved in the bombing, provided blogger Bob McCarty with a summary of information about the security cameras that were in the area of the Murrah Building, which views of the lead-up to the bombing exist, and which views have been released to the public.

Counterterrorism investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck has some thoughts on the terror arrests in North Carolina. It's a disturbing situation:

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this North Carolina jihad cell is that it was apparently made up of mostly white converts to Islam. Indeed, Daniel Patrick Boyd looked like your typical good 'ol boy. He ran a drywall business with his family. Neighbors frequently observed him walking his dog (and here I thought that dogs were haram among jihadis) and so far have portayed him as a pretty unassuming guy. Frankly, Boyd had the perfect cover. Let's face it: a predominantly white, Christian rural area outside of Raleigh, NC is the last place you would suspect an Islamic terror cell to set up shop. And you probably wouldn't look twice at lily white Daniel Boyd if he were walking through airport security.

Stakelbeck's report includes a number of links to earlier stories jihad training and support in flyover country, including right here in Tulsa.

I've added the feed for Erick Stakelbeck's blog to my BatesLine blogroll headlines page -- check it out for the latest headlines from the blogs I follow.


Crosshairs City

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Dawn Eden has been posting extensively of late about the under-reported story of the eight years of rocket attacks by Palestinian terror group Hamas against civilian targets in southern Israel. She has a special interest in the story: Her brother, his bride, and their unborn child live in Beer-Sheva. 40 missiles have struck in or near that city since December 30.

Her most recent entry has video of a May17, 2007, Qassam rocket attack on Sderot, just across the border from Gaza City. The rocket hit a synagogue which was in the midst of celebrating the completion of its new Torah. Miraculously, the rocket did not detonate, and no one was injured. This was home video that was being taken of the celebration in the synagogue and a procession through the streets (interesting for that aspect alone), prior to capturing the aftermath of the rocket's impact on the synagogue.

The video was edited, annotated, and posted by the Sderot Media Center, a citizen journalism organization. I was struck by their use of crosshairs in the logo of the website, which exists to help the world understand what it is like to live at all times in the terrorists' sights.

The Sderot Media Center is an organization of citizen journalism that also serves as a news agency.

The Center was founded with the purpose of uncovering and publicizing the voices of a population marginalized by the conflict: the residents of Sderot and the Western Negev who suffer daily from the terror of Kassam attacks.

We give trips to members of the media, diplomats and students with the goal of spreading awareness of the situation in Sderot, and the routine of everyday life for people living with the reality of impending Kassam attacks.

As Dawn says in her headline, this is "news you won't see on CNN."

In a previous entry, Dawn has video from the Israel Defence Forces of a weapons cache in a Gaza mosque, an illustration of the way Hamas uses schools, mosques, and the Palestinian people as shields for their attacks on Israeli civilians.

She links to the website of Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, which is trying to raise funds to help them protect their students, serve their community, and do their best to continue their mission while dealing with incoming rockets on a daily basis. Their list of needs will give you an idea of what Israeli civilians must cope with. Here are just a few:

  • Installing a supplemental alert system to insure that warning sirens are heard in every corner of BGU's three Beer-Sheva campuses.
  • Purchasing additional equipment to fight fires and carry out possible rescue operations on campus.
  • Adapting facilities to safeguard flammable and combustible materials and supplies used in University laboratories and by University services.
  • Hiring and training security personnel to manage the movement of people and equipment in the event of a direct missile strike....
  • Adapting the University sports center for soldiers on leave, providing them a place to sleep, shower and briefly refresh themselves -- for many while they are visiting wounded comrades at the University-affiliated Soroka hospital.

Dawn asks for prayers for her brother and his family and for peace in the Holy Land. I'll add to that a request for prayers for friends who live at the other end of the country, in an area that has been targeted by Hezbollah rocket attacks in the past; they have a son in the IDF.

Pray for peace. Pray that the Hamas war-makers, the mis-leaders of the Palestinian people, will be defeated utterly.

MORE: Backyard Conservative links to Alan Dershowitz's column about Hamas' "dead baby strategy" and adds this cartoon that says it all:

babywar.gif

From the Tulsa World:

About 160 people protested in Tulsa on Friday afternoon over the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.

Muslim Iman Arthur Farahkhan said the nonviolent protest was by "people of conscience" who want to help "stop the violence and cease all fire."

"I couldn't have a good weekend knowing people in the conflict won't have one," Farahkhan said during the protest at the intersection of 71st Street and Memorial Drive.

He said he wants the United States to intervene in the ongoing clash.

"We're here to say, 'Please, President (George W.) Bush, stop the massacre,'?" Farahkhan said.

Israel unleashed its bombs Dec 27 in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire directed at Israel from the Gaza Strip....

(I think "Iman" should read "Imam" for that is Mr. Farahkhan's title.)

So that's one week of counterattack by Israel following "weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire" -- rockets fired from within Israel's own sovereign territory, territory that it granted to allow Palestinian self government and that has now fallen under the control of a terrorist group whose goal is the destruction of Israel. Hamas has been launching rockets at civilian targets. (Hamas has also long been involved in suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians -- for example, the March 2003 bomb attack on a city bus in Haifa which killed Abigail Litle.)

Israel has responded by taking out Hamas' headquarters building and other facilities used by Hamas as part of its military infrastructure -- targeted attacks aimed at destroying Hamas' capability to attack Israeli citizens.

I find it ironic to read at the end of the story that, "Palestinian protester Houssam Soueissi said, 'We're here to stop the killing of women, children and civilians.'" That's exactly what the Israeli Air Force is trying to do: Protect women, children, and civilians by eliminating an evil organization that has been attacking women, children, and civilians for decades. If Soueissi and the others were serious about their desire to end violence in the Holy Land, they'd be holding up signs saying, "Go IAF! Death to Hamas!"

Does that protester's name ring a bell? Houssam Elsoueissi was one of several men who Jamal Miftah says angrily confronted him in November 2006 after services at the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque. Here's Miftah's story as it appeared in my December 13, 2006 column in Urban Tulsa Weekly:

On Nov. 18, Miftah was attending prayers at the mosque. After prayers, Miftah says he was chatting with friends when he was confronted by the imam (prayer leader) of the mosque, Ahmad Kabbani.

Kabbani told Miftah that he should be ashamed of himself for writing the article, saying bad things about Muslims in front of non-Muslims. After Kabbani called Miftah "anti-Islamic," Miftah walked away from the confrontation into the corridor.

There Miftah says he was confronted by the president of the mosque's operating council, Houssam Elsoueissi (also known as Abu Waleed). In a loud voice, Elsoueissi called Miftah "anti-Muslim" and a "traitor" for writing against Muslim organizations.

Miftah defended the accuracy of his article. During the confrontation, 10 to 15 Arab men gathered around in a threatening way, some of them waving shoes and cursing him. A friend of Miftah's stepped in and rescued him from the confrontation.

Miftah says there are witnesses and security cameras that will corroborate his version of events.

In our conversation last week, Miftah explained that there is an implied threat in the label "anti-Muslim." In some parts of the Muslim world, apostates, those who abandon Islam, are deemed worthy to be put to death....

The next day at the mosque, Elsoueissi told one of Miftah's friends that he had obtained a restraining order prohibiting Miftah from returning to the mosque unless he were to apologize in front of Friday congregation.

Miftah says he was told that on Nov. 20, after the final prayer service of the day, Elsouessi discussed Miftah's article, which he said contained "anti-Islamic things."

Elsouessi announced to the assembled faithful that there was a restraining order against Miftah and anyone who saw him in the mosque should call the police.

Elsoueissi is a defendant in Miftah's lawsuit against IST and several other leaders and members of the mosque, for assault and battery, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, relating this incident. (A scheduling conference in the case is set for January 26.)

So there appears to be some consistency here between a willingness to show solidarity with Hamas terrorists and to condemn Israel's efforts to defeat the terrorists, while publicly condemning (allegedly, I have to add) a Muslim who condemns terrorism in the name of Islam.

It happened on September 5, but only recently did it make the news.

Last Thursday, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Sheldon Robinson was honored by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority as Trooper of the Month for his quick thinking and action in subduing a man in who had come into the Burger King at 41st and Memorial in Tulsa with the apparent intent of shooting the place up.

On Sept. 5, Robinson dropped his wife and two children off at the Burger King restaurant at 41st Street and Memorial Drive and was pulling into an auto dealership across the street for an oil change when his cell phone rang.

"My spouse told me there was a man inside with a gun, saying he was going to kill everybody," said Robinson, an 11-year veteran of the highway patrol who is assigned to the Creek and Muskogee turnpikes.

Robinson turned around in time to see people fleeing the building, including his wife, who grabbed the couple's two children and hid in a nearby trash container area, closing the doors behind her.

Robinson went in, saw the man with a .40 caliber Glock and a box of ammo beside him, and blindsided him while the man's hand was off his gun, wrestling him to the ground to try to cuff him.

Pay close attention to this next sentence (emphasis added):

"It was one of those deals of being in the right place at the right time," Robinson said. "I believe he would have loaded up that gun and gone to town because he was praying for Allah to help him carry out his mission."

The man with the Glock was Jerome Norvell Denson, described in the jail population report as a 24-year-old black male, 5'11", 230 lbs. Court records give an address in the Normandy Apartments, a Section 8 complex just west of Sheridan on 36th St. He was booked into jail by Tulsa Police on Nov. 24 at 5:25 pm. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24. He has been charged with planning, attempting, or conspiring to perform act of violence, and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony.

Given Trooper Robinson's report that Denson invoked Allah, it's worth mentioning for the benefit of non-Tulsans that Denson's place of residence is a little over a mile north from the Islamic Society of Tulsa mosque. The Burger King where the incident occurred is a half-mile south and a mile east of Denson's address.

So what happened between the incident on Sept. 5 and when he was booked into jail on Nov. 24? Court records show that he was originally charged with the two felony counts on Sept. 11.

There's an interesting note in the docket report for Oct. 6:

CARLOS CHAPPELLE: DEFENDANT PRESENT IN CUSTODY REPRESENTED BY CLAY IJAMS. STATE REPRESENTED BY KIM HALL .CASE CALLED FOR INTIAL APPEARANCE. STATE DECLINES DEFENDANT BASED ON CHARGES AND PAST HISTORY/DANGER TO COMMUNITY. DEFENDANT OBJECTS TO STATE'S DENIAL INTO PROGRAM. DEFENDANT DECLINED ; DEFENDANT SET FOR PRELIM 10/22/08 AT 9:00 AM ROOM 344. BOND TO REMAIN. DEFENDANT REMANDED TO CUSTODY .

I'm wondering what is meant here by "state declines" and "program."

The original charges were dismissed at the state's request on Oct. 29, and then he was charged again on November 7 and back in custody on the 24th. Here's the OCIS docket report on the new charges.

The only other time Jerome Denson shows up in court records is for failure to pay an ambulance bill four years ago. He doesn't turn up on Google, except in reference to this incident.

The incident didn't make the news when it happened in September. TPD public affairs office sends a daily e-mail update to the press with information on significant occurrences in the previous 24 hours. I don't seem to have received a Sept. 6th report, but there were numerous e-mails on Sept. 5, all pertaining to Neal Richard Sweeney, who had been shot the day before and had died that morning. That probably explains why TPD didn't mention Denson's arrest in their news releases: An actual murder trumps a prevented murder, although the situation at the Burger King was certainly dramatic enough.

We'll keep an eye on this case. I'd welcome any information you may have on Jerome Norvell Denson or this case.

(Via Jihad Watch.)

UPDATE: On June 15, 2009, Denson pled nolo contendere on two counts, PLAN/ATTEMPT/CONSPIRE TO PERFORM ACT OF VIOLENCE and POSSESSION OF A FIREARM WHILE IN THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY. He was sentenced by Judge Clancy Smith to five years in prison with credit for time served.

Sen. Joe Biden has predicted that the callow youth at the top of his ticket would be tested by a "generated" international crisis, which, just as John F. Kennedy, whose obvious weakness gave Khrushchev the all-clear to wall off Berlin and plant missiles in Cuba, did, Obama will royally screw up.

(As Rush Limbaugh was saying today, isn't the whole world supposed to love us again if we elect Obama? Why should anyone expect him to be challenged by the bad guys, since there aren't any bad guys in the world, just people who are understandably enraged that America has yet to overthrow Chimpy McBushitler?)

Biden mentioned four or five scenarios, which inspired Gov. Sarah Palin to imagine what those five crises might be:

(Video after the jump.)

My oldest son and I attended Tuesday night's speech by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, sponsored by sixthirtyone, TU's conservative student association and newspaper. The speech was well attended. There were no protesters. Four Tulsa police officers were there to keep an eye on things.

Pipes's speech, "Vanquishing the Islamist Enemy and Helping the Moderate Muslim Ally," was a clear and concise identification of the enemy in the global war on terror. The enemy isn't terrorism -- terrorism is a tactic. The enemy isn't Islam -- to say so is ahistorical, turns friends into enemies, and leaves the US with no policy options. Pipes pointed out that the current threat is only a few decades old.

The enemy is a terroristic, extreme, totalitarian form of Islam: Islamism, which like Fascism and Communism before it, sees America as an obstacle to its goal of worldwide hegemony.

Following the speech, Pipes took questions from the audience.

After the speech my son and I spoke to several of the other attendees, including some professors from ORU, and then joined several of the students from sixthirtyone at Kilkenny's. It was a pleasure to get to know these bright and energetic young conservatives. I've asked them to keep me informed about their activities and future dates in their lecture series.

I attended the second PLANiTULSA workshop this afternoon as a participant (having been a facilitator Monday night). I found the experience exhausting, even a bit frustrating. Even having a clear idea about what to expect from Monday night's session, it was still hard to get all the ideas on the map in the allotted time. Happily, I saw a lot of good ideas that our table missed on other tables' maps.

On my Flickr account, I've posted photos of Monday night and Tuesday afternoon's PLANiTULSA sessions, including closeups of the maps from my tables.

My oldest son and I also attended tonight's speech by Daniel Pipes, sponsored by sixthirtyone, TU's conservative student association and newspaper. The speech was well attended. There were no protesters. Four Tulsa Police officers were there to keep an eye on things.

Pipes's speech, "Vanquishing the Islamist Enemy and Helping the Moderate Muslim Ally," was a clear and concise identification of the enemy in the global war on terror. The enemy isn't terrorism -- terrorism is a tactic. The enemy isn't Islam -- to say so is ahistorical, turns friends into enemies, and leaves the US with no policy options. Pipes pointed out that the current threat is only a few decades old.

The enemy is a terroristic, extreme, totalitarian form of Islam: Islamism, which like Fascism and Communism before it, sees America as an obstacle to its goal of worldwide hegemony.

After the speech my son and I spoke to several of the other attendees and then joined several of the students from sixthirtyone at Kilkenny's. It was a pleasure to get to know these bright and energetic young conservatives. I've asked them to keep me informed about their activities and future dates in their lecture series.

I took video of Pipes's speech and the Q&A, but I'm trying to get it compressed to a reasonable size before uploading it.

Middle East expert Daniel Pipes is speaking tonight at 7 p.m. at the University of Tulsa's Alan Chapman Activities Center (ACAC). The title of his speech is "Vanquishing the Islamist Enemy and Helping the Moderate Muslim Ally."

(Naturally, the TU Muslim Students Association sought and was granted permission to protest this speech.)

From Pipes's biography:

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University....

He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University, both in history, and spent six years studying abroad, including three years in Egypt. Mr. Pipes speaks French, and reads Arabic and German. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the U.S. Naval War College, and Pepperdine University. He served in various capacities in the U.S. government, including two presidentially-appointed positions, vice chairman of the Fulbright Board of Foreign Scholarships and board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace. He was director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in 1986-93....

Pipes is the author of 12 books including Militant Islam Reaches America (2002), The Rushdie Affair (Birch Lane, 1990), In the Path of God (Basic Books, 1983), and Slave Soldiers and Islam (Yale University Press, 1981).

I received this notice from the parent of a TU student who was concerned that the number of protesters would outnumber the attendees.

This is an opportunity to gain insight into Islamism from a world-renowned scholar and at the same time provide some support and encouragement to the TU conservative student group that is sponsoring Pipes's appearance.

MEMRI needs money

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The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has been hard at work for over a decade, translating political speeches, popular music, news reports, children's programming, and other media content from Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu, and other languages of the Middle East. MEMRI makes it possible for us to know when Middle Eastern leaders are saying one thing in English to the world and something very different in their own languages to their own people. Government agencies, scholars, think tanks, news outlets, and blogs all depend on MEMRI's translations to inform their understanding of the Middle East.

MEMRI's online offerings include a frequently updated blog, the MEMRI TV video site, and the Islamist websites monitor project. It was MEMRI that called worldwide attention to a death-obsessed children's program on a Palestinian TV station featuring a Mickey Mouse knockoff called Farfour and a militant Hamas bunny named Assud who pledged to finish off the Jews and eat them.

MEMRI needs financial support to continue their work. Giving is quick and easy, and MEMRI's work is vital to clear thinking and honest debate about politics, culture, and religion in the Middle East.

The presidential campaign and city politics churn along, but it's important to take time to remember what happened seven years ago today: The tragic deaths of the innocent, trapped in buildings and in airplanes, the heroic efforts of police officers, firefighters, and the men of Flight 93, the family members and friends they left behind. We need to remember the attack that (too briefly) woke America from its complacency. On that crisp, beautiful late summer's Tuesday, we learned that there were millions of radical Islamists who hated us, hated our freedom, hated our prosperity, and were plotting to destroy us.

To help us remember the day as we should, the History Channel has a special section on its website, including "102 Minutes That Changed America," unedited video of the attack on New York, taken from 10 locations around the World Trade Center. The History Channel will run a commemorative program tonight at 8 p.m. Central time.

A photographic exhibit called "Here Is New York" captures the day through the lenses of hundreds of cameras.

Personal recollections can help us to remember the shock of that day. Ron Coleman was in his law office in midtown Manhattan. In a five-part series, he tells of hearing the news of planes crashing into the towers, monitoring the net and the radio for developments and hearing of the towers' collapse, encountering those fleeing the Financial District -- "like a midday, impromptu, white-collar parade of the dumbstruck", walking west, trying to find a way back to New Jersey and home, and climbing the stairs up the side of the Palisades to get back to his car, his home, and his family.

Finally, take a moment to remember Jayesh Shah, a graduate of Memorial High School and the University of Tulsa, who was working for Cantor Fitzgerald / eSpeed on the 103rd floor of the North Tower. This Houston Chronicle story from the first anniversary of the attacks tells of his family's desperate search for him after the attacks and their grief at the realization that he did not survive. Read it and remember those whose lives were lost and those who were left behind.

Four years ago today, I wrote:

...it is important to remember why we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and may find ourselves fighting in other places that harbor and sponsor terrorists. Although we desire to live at peace with all men, governments have a divine commission to use force to oppose evil. We cannot hope to enjoy peace as long as there are those who would seek our deaths for the crime of being alive and free.

Let's take time today to refresh our memory, to think and to feel, to relive the pain, to refresh the resolve we had on September 12.

On my way down to the Xcel Center from Cathedral Hill, I came across a rally of about 50 red-shirted folks gathered around the Grand Army of the Republic monument, carrying American flags and placards saying:

"Support our troops AND their mission!"

"VICTORY over Terrorism -- Let Our Soldiers WIN!"

"Home of the FREE because of the BRAVE"

"Some HEROES wear capes. Mine wear COMBAT BOOTS."

and the classic:

"How about rooting for our side for a change, you moonbats?"

The rally in support of the troops began at 10 a.m., as anti-war protesters gathered a few blocks away at the Minnesota State Capitol for a protest march down to the Xcel Center.

The familes' rally was organized by Families United for our Troops and Their Mission. Marrilee Carlson, the president of the group, led the event, which began with the National Anthem, sung a capella with a few notes on the trumpet, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Marilee Carlson is a Gold Star mom -- the mother of Army Sergeant Michael "Shrek" Carlson:

During a night mission, his platoon was assigned to cordon off and take out of commission, two bomb-making factories. As the Bradley they were driving was going over a culvert in the roadway, the culvert gave way and the vehicle rolled over backwards into the water. Seven soldiers were in the Bradley; five died, including Michael. A rescue unit was able to save two other soldiers, in large part because before he died, Michael was able to partly pry open the hatch in the vehicle.

Mrs. Carlson read from a "credo" that her son wrote while in high school:

When I am on my deathbed, what am I going to look back on? Will it be thirty years of fighting crime and protecting the country of all enemies, foreign and domestic? I want my life to account for something... I only have so much time. I want to be good at life; I want to be known as the best of the best at my job. I want people to need me, to count on me... I want to fight for something, be part of something that is greater than myself. I want to be a soldier...

Here are some of Mrs. Carlson's remarks:

Gold Star mom Debbie Lee spoke about her son, Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Alan Lee, a Navy Seal killed in Iraq just over two years ago. Mark was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, and Purple Heart:

Lee, 28, was killed Aug. 2 in a fierce firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. An aviation ordinanceman and a member of a Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL team, Lee was one of the first members of the elite group to be killed in Iraq.

U.S. Navy officers told Debbie Lee that her son died after single-handedly holding off enemy fighters as his team rescued a wounded soldier from a rooftop. During the two-hour battle, Marc Lee fired 100 rounds against insurgents, they told her.

A base in Iraq is named in Lee's memory.

Mrs. Lee read from her son's last e-mail from Iraq, a meditation on the nature of glory, self-sacrifice, and generosity:

It is not unknown to most of us that the rest of the world looks at us with doubt towards our humanity and morals. I am not here to preach or to say look at me, because I am just as at fault as the next person. I find that being here makes me realize the great country we have and the obligation we have to keep it that way.

The 4th has just come and gone and I received many emails thanking me for helping keep America great and free. I take no credit for the career path I have chosen; I can only give it to those of you who are reading this, because each one of you has contributed to me and who I am.

However what I do over here is only a small percent of what keeps our country great. I think the truth to our greatness is each other. Purity, morals and kindness, passed down to each generation through example. So to all my family and friends, do me a favor and pass on the kindness, the love, the precious gift of human life to each other so that when your children come into contact with a great conflict that we are now faced with here in Iraq, that they are people of humanity, of pure motives, of compassion. This is our real part to keep America free!

Here are some of Mrs. Lee's remarks:

Mrs. Lee said that God redeployed Marc to heaven, because he'd "successfully completed his mission," but she told the families that they are only halfway through their deployment, and they have a job to do -- to stand for the troops, to write their congressmen, to write letters to the editor, to let their friends and neighbors know what's really going on in Iraq. She spoke of her visit to Iraq, and the Iraqis she met who expressed gratitude for America's presence.

A special surprise speaker emerged a few minutes later. Actor Jon Voight addressed the families. He recalled with regret his anti-Vietnam War activities and expressed thanks for living long enough to change his ways, while saluting the troops who made such a difference in such a short time on this earth.

I said in a little op-ed in the Washington Times, that the great patriotism that is represented by our troops and this generation of young people is really lifting our nation altogether. And thank God for them, for your children and what they have meant to all of us, to fix our minds in the proper direction....

I'm 69 years old. I've had a lot of life. I've needed a lot of life to get my priorities straight.... I got a little wayward at the end of the '60s, with celebrity -- it does something to your mind. It drops your IQ.... It distracts you from the truth.... I got into this antiwar stuff in the late '60s and early '70s, and I pray to God everyday that he would forgive me for that nonsense....

I am in awe of the young people who stand for this country....

Here are Voight's remarks:

MORE: Families United also rallied across from an antiwar protest in Denver a week ago. Looking at the Left has photos.

As See-Dubya says, "Whom to root against?"

The worst reactionary impulses of the seventh century, or the engines of postmodern degradation? A pox on both their houses.

That's in reference to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint filed by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) on behalf of an 18-year-old Tulsa woman who was refused employment in the Abercrombie Kids store at Woodland Hills Mall because she, a Muslim, wears a hijab. The girl alleges that the store manager told her that the headscarf doesn't fit Abercrombie's image.

This ought to be laughed out of court. Of course a company ought to have the freedom to hire whom it pleases and to consider its public image in whom it hires to deal directly with the public. Freedom of association is a fundamental First Amendment right which is meaningless without the freedom not to associate.

Anyway, this is not about religion, it's about clothing and appearance. The hijab is not mandated by religion; it is mandated by culture, and its use and appearance varies from one Islamic country to another. The zTruth blog pointed out, regarding a CAIR hiring complaint against McDonald's in Dearborn, Michigastan:

Muslims insist this is a obligatory dress code, which I contend is not. I've only read in the Quran that women should dress modestly and cover their breasts. Nowhere have I read in the Quran that hair and/or the face is to be covered up but, perhaps, I missed it.

See-Dubya notes the strangeness of the situation:

This plaintiff is fighting to preserve her modesty while going to work for a company that's injected more soft porn into our cultural bloodstream than Cinemax?

I have to wonder if the choice of Abercrombie and Fitch was deliberate on CAIR-OK's part: Send a young Muslim woman in a hijab to apply for a job at a company that has been the subject of protests from conservative Christians for its skanky catalogs and advertising. Perhaps CAIR thought that they could build an alliance with conservative Christians by making A&F their target.

I won't defend A&F's "image," but that isn't what's under attack. It's the right any organization -- whether a Christian bookstore or a vintage clothing consignment shop or a church or a school -- should have to set dress standards in line with the organization's purpose.

Noting the Jamal Miftah case, See--Dubya says, "This is radical Islam asserting itself yet again in the heartland." Left-wing politicians in Oklahoma aren't offering any resistance. Gov. Brad Henry set up a special state commission to promote Muslim concerns, but disguised its purpose with the name "Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council." The zTruth blog reported last November that State Sen. Andrew Rice, the Democratic nominee for U. S. Senate, was the main speaker at CAIR-OK's fundraising banquet in Tulsa, praising CAIR's work, despite the organization's connections with radical groups Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are keeping a close eye on the activities of groups connected with radical Islamist groups. On July 30, Sen. Tom Coburn joined Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl in writing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to object to Federal funding of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA):

Earlier this year, it came to our attention that at least two State Department grantees were funding Muslim outreach programs operated by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an unindicted coconspirator in a recent terror financing trial, and a leader of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS). The Muslim Brotherhood, whose radical and violent agenda has been extensively documented, is an Islamist organization opposed to Western liberal democracy and considers both entities part of its U.S. network....

Despite the Muslim Brotherhood link to these entities, in December 2007, a grant of nearly $500,000 was awarded by the U.S. State Department to the University of Delaware which employs a leader of the AMSS, Muqtedar Khan, to manage the grant. The grant is meant to foster dialogue between the U.S. and clerics in Muslim countries.
In 2006 and 2007, the National Peace Foundation received State Department grants of $466,000 and $499,999 to conduct similar programs in partnership with ISNA.

Staff from the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Governmental lnformation, Federal Services, and International Security met with State Department officials from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which manages these grants. When explaining the vetting procedures used for these grantees, your staff admitted that they do not vet the grantees used to implement these Muslim outreach programs. Instead, they rely on the grantees to vet themselves. Accordingly, the Slate Department is funding organizations without having a proper understanding of their membership, affiliation or whether they may be pursuing an agenda that is at odds with
U.S. policy -- to wage a war of ideas against the extremist ideology that inspires terrorism around the world, including here in the United States.

Even more troubling, the decision to award the grant managed by Mr. Khan of AMSS was based on a recommendation letter from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (lIIT), another unindicted coconspirator in the terror financing trial referenced above. Like ISNA and AMSS, the Muslim Brotherhood considers lIIT part of its U.S. network through which it wages a "civilization-jihadist process" to destroy Western civilization....

When Senator Coburn first learned that the State Department was funding Islamist entities, he requested a meeting with Goli Ameri who, at the time, was the nominee to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and would manage the bureau that issues these grants. During the discussion of her nomination, Ms. Ameri promised Senator Coburn that the State Department would stop funding these entities once she was confirmed.

Unfortunately, sometime after Ms. Ameri was confirmed, ISNA announced new sub-grant funding from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to carry out a new Muslim outreach program. An ISNA press release stated that these federal funds paid for a U.S. delegation to meet with Dr. Ali Goma, the Mufti of Egypt. In 2003, Ali Goma was
quoted in Egypt's "AI-haqiqa" newspaper defending terrorist acts in Israel....

We are sure that you would agree that Americans should not have to fund their enemies in the form of misguided "outreach" efforts. To that end, please provide a response to the following questions by August 9, 2008:

(I) By what date will all funding to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations (including organizations identified in the attached Muslim Brotherhood memorandum) through grants, cooperative agreements. fellowships, contracts or any other funding vehicle, be curtailed?

(2) By what date will you establish Department-wide, standardized procedures to prevent funding from being provided to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations (including organizations identified in the attached Muslim Brotherhood memorandum)?

That memo was linked from the home page of Steven Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism. Emerson testified recently to the House Terrorism Subcommittee about the State Department's misdirected outreach funding. Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs calls it the "State Department of Islam": "Frightening in its failure .............. deadly in its implications. The damn thing must be scrapped. Top to bottom, starting with Condhimmi."

(Read about Emerson's first encounter with radical Islamism, right here in the heartland, in Oklahoma City on Christmas Day 1992.)

ISNA is the owner of Tulsa's al-Salaam Mosque and is one of the defendants in Jamal Miftah's lawsuit against those who assaulted and defamed him as anti-Muslim for speaking out against terrorism in the name of Islam.

MORE:

zTruth, Islamization Watch, and Overlawyered are also following the Tulsa A&F story.

Rick Moore calls the lawsuit "one of those 'Iran-Iraq War' kinds of disputes in which you wish both sides could lose, but only after a long, bloody and costly serious of battles."

Sharp Right Turn notes this story and news of Tyson Foods' decision to cancel Labor Day as a paid holiday at its Shelbyville, Tenn., plant in favor of Eid al-Fitr.

Tod Robberson at the Dallas Morning News opinion blog challenges readers to justify the hijab as a religious matter:

Religious custom is not the equivalent of religious belief or religious doctrine. I contend that the headscarf has evolved as a custom and expectation in Islam, but it is by no means a requirement for women who adhere to Islam to wear it.

And in case you missed it, CAIR sued Mission Foods earlier this year for requiring its workers to wear pants:

Fatuma Hassan and five of her Muslim co-workers lost their jobs at Mission Foods tortilla factory last month after they said that wearing a new uniform with pants violated their Islamic beliefs.

''For me, wearing pants is the same as being naked,'' said Hassan, 22. ''My culture, my religious beliefs, are more important than a uniform.''...

The Mission Foods clash has also led to a lawsuit. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, filed a religious discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Mission Foods had implemented the new dress code for factory workers and said the traditional Muslim clothing was too loose-fitting and posed a safety hazard near machines.

STILL MORE:

jedijson at Kick the Anthill is another conservative Christian (and a Tulsan, too, apparently) pulling for A&F in this situation:

No, I'm not hip on a company that puts out soft-porn pictures as their advertisements to entice my children into their stores, but still. Whenever a special-interest group tries to overstep a company's policies, it just rankles me to no end.

It's a long rant, but worth reading.

On Wednesday, July 23, District Judge Linda Morrissey denied motions by the Islamic Society of Tulsa, Mujib Cheema, and the North American Islamic Trust to dismiss Jamal Miftah's lawsuit against them. Miftah is suing Cheema, IST, and NAIT, as well as several other individual leaders in IST for assault and battery, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Earlier this year, Judge Gordon McAllister granted several motions to dismiss, but gave Miftah's attorneys 20 days to present an amended petition. It was this amended petition that was the subject of the latest motions to dismiss, which were denied.

We will keep you posted on developments. Here is a link to BatesLine's Jamal Miftah category, where you can catch up on the dispute between Miftah and IST regarding IST expelling him over his op-ed condemning terrorism in the name of Islam.

DOCUMENTS: Here are some of Jamal Miftah's court filings in this case:

  1. June 22, 2007: Jamal Miftah v. Islamic Society of Tulsa et al. - Original Petition
  2. October 30, 2007: Jamal Miftah v. Islamic Society of Tulsa et al. - Response to Motion for Dismissal
  3. April 2, 2008: Jamal Miftah v. Islamic Society of Tulsa et al. - Amended Petition
  4. May 15, 2008: Jamal Miftah v. Islamic Society of Tulsa et al. - Motion for Continuance
  5. June 9, 2008: Jamal Miftah v. Islamic Society of Tulsa et al. - Response to Motion for Dismissal

Reading the amended petition, item 3 above, will get you up to speed on the incident that prompted the lawsuit. The response to the motion to dismiss the amended lawsuit, item 5 above, is the plaintiff's explanation for why the mosque and the national entities that own it have been named as defendants in the suit.

TRACKBACKS:

See-Dubya updates readers at Michelle Malkin's blog, with a reminder of some of the threats that have been made against Miftah. Readers there have posted some words of encouragement for him in the comments.

See-Dubya links to this Hot Air video report about Miftah by counterterrorism reporter Erick Stakelbeck, from February 2007.

Howie at My Pet Jawa links the story, too.

Gates of Vienna has excerpts from the amended petition summarizing what happened to Miftah as the result of his op-ed. The excerpts also speak of Miftah and other members of the mosque raising concerns, earlier in 2005, about the lack of transparent accounting practices at IST, involving cash payments to outside organizations. The Gates of Vienna blogger writes: "It's good to know that someone is using one of ISNA's preferred weapons against them."

Julie Dermody of Collinsville has a brother in the National Guard who just returned to Oklahoma from Iraq. Through him, she became aware of a need for hospitalized troops in Iraq, something very basic and very inexpensive that would be very much appreciated: pajama pants.

No one likes wearing hospital gowns. Not only are they hard to put on, with the ties in back, they don't do an adequate job of covering what needs to be covered. Julie writes:

When soldiers are wounded in Iraq, they are taken to the hospital where their clothing is removed and they are given a hospital gown. (The kind that is slit up the backside) The trek to the hospital does not include stopping and getting an extra set of clothing ~ so our Heroes are left standing around with their bare bottoms playing peek-a-boo with every step they take.

You know how demeaning hospital gowns can be ~ Remember walking down a crowed hallway, feeling a cold draft up your backside? Then remembering...oops the world is able to see my derriere? Our brave men and women deserve better. With your help, we can give them a little dignity as they recover from injuries sustained in IRAQ.

Our goal is to collect 5,000 sleep pants and t-shirts. We will package a set in 2 gallon Ziploc bags with a card wishing them rapid recovery and letting them know since they've got our backs its time for us to step up and cover their's!

She's asking for new (NOT used) t-shirts and sleep pants with no words or writing on them. She'd like to collect all 5,000 sets by the end of March.

If you'd like to help, call Julie Dermody at 918-232-3796 or send her an e-mail at jjdermody03@sbcglobal.net. You can follow the project's progress at her GI Pajama Party blog.

abigaillitle.jpg

Five years ago, on the afternoon of March 5, 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber stepped onto a city bus in Haifa, Israel, and detonated the shrapnel-laden bomb strapped to his body. 17 people were killed by the explosion, 53 were wounded. This was a bus filled with young people. Of the 17 fatalities, 9 were under 18, and only two were over the age of 27.

I knew one of the young people killed on that bus, 14-year-old Abigail Litle, the daughter of dear friends of mine from college. Here's an excerpt of something I wrote shortly after the attack:

Just one week earlier Abigail and Juval [Mendelevich] had gone on their first field trip with their school's "Children Teaching Children" program, designed to bring Arab and Jewish teenagers together, in hopes of tearing down the wall of prejudice between the two communities. At an Arab-Israeli school, Abigail befriended an Arab girl. They were to meet again the following Monday.

But a hate-filled murderer got on the bus that Juval and Abigail were riding. Right after Juval's dad heard his son say, "I love you," Mahmoud Hamdan Kawasme detonated an explosive package filled with nails, killing 16 innocents and maiming many more. Mahmoud left behind a note praising the 9/11 attacks. Later that week, Mahmoud's mother threw a party celebrating his "martyrdom" and told the press she was proud of her son.

Abigail's parents are friends of mine from college. Phil and Heidi Litle were three and two years ahead of me at MIT, respectively. Phil and Heidi are possessed of a deep and abiding Christian faith, and they influenced a generation of Christians at MIT to pursue a closer walk with Jesus. They first came to Israel when Abigail was a baby and her older brother Josiah was a toddler, so that Phil could pursue a graduate degree at Technion, Israel's most prestigious engineering school. They fell in love with Israel and its people, and so they stayed and had three more children there. Phil took a position as an administrator with the Baptist denomination, serving the small evangelical Christian community in the country. The Litles worship as part of a congregation led by an Israeli Arab, side by side with Jewish, Arab, and Gentile followers of Jesus.

Abigail had all the hopes and dreams of a typical American 14 year old. She wasn't some agent of "the Zionist entity" seeking to "oppress" the Palestinians. She was a bridge across ethnic and religious divides. She saw people as individuals, not as racial stereotypes. And two weeks ago, she was murdered, she and Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, by a Palestinian who had been indoctrinated by official Palestinian media and by official Palestinian schools to believe that killing Jews is honorable and blessed by God. Abigail's life was gone in an instant.

On this fifth anniversary of her death, I ask you to join me in remembering her life, in celebrating her victorious faith in Christ, in praying for her family, and in recommitting to the long struggle against terrorism. Here are links to some articles about her and about the terrorist attack.

A month after the bombing, Abigail's father wrote a letter about Abigail's life and character, about the events of March 5, and about her funeral.

A couple of weeks after the bombing, I wrote the piece excerpted above about the bombing and the false parallels being drawn between Abigail Litle and Rachel Corrie. Corrie died defending tunnels that Palestinian terrorists used to smuggle weapons into Israel.

This blog entry, from a year later, includes a description by Abigail's father of the first anniversary memorials and has links to an account of Abigail's faith and an editorial by the spokesman for Israel's Chicago consulate.

On the third anniversary of the bombing, Angela Bertz remembered the nine children killed on that bus in light of the Academy Awards' celebration of Palestinian terrorism:

This year, to the horror of anyone with a moral conscience, the movie "Paradise Now" was rewarded with an award by the Golden Globes. This abhorrent movie attempts, with a somewhat warped mixture of humour and mawkish sentiments, to turn mass murderers into the same breathing, caring individuals as their intended victims.

It follows the trail of 2 young Palestinian men, not much older than the victims of the #37 bus, culminating in one of the mass murderers detonating an explosive belt on a crowded Tel Aviv bus.

It seems that Palestinian mass murder is not only popcorn flavour of the month with the Golden Globes, but with the Academy Awards looming, this horrific epic to nothing more than Palestinian terrorism is about to come up trumps again.

One can only look in amazement as this respectable organization will read out the names of this year's nominations, which include "Paradise Now". This is tantamount to declaring that the event of 3 years ago and the murder of 9 innocent children (+ eight more innocent people) at the hands of a Palestinian homicide bomber, is of no more consequence than the death of a couple of luckless cows who were killed to provide the hotdogs for anyone who considers this a movie of any merit.

The Academy, if it had any moral fiber, would throw out this nomination. The mass murderers fulfilled their senseless ambition in life when they murdered these innocent children and many other innocent victims. They will no doubt be a light to their non-existent nation of Palestine, shining brightly under some street sign in Gaza named after them, or grinning from the pages of a Palestinian textbook, who will revere them as heroes for the next generation of Palestinian children who long to emulate them. Their mothers, like that of the 37 bus bomber will talk with pride of their child's deed.

The children on the #37 bus, who never had the chance to fulfill their ambitions in life, which certainly never included mass-murder, are the real stars. Their light will shine brighter than any Golden Globe or Oscar, in the memories of not only all those that knew and loved them personally, but to everyone who has had the privilege of knowing them in some small way through websites dedicated to their memory.

Just after the second anniversary, Deroy Murdock wrote about the importance of the language we use in talking about terrorism, terrorists and their victims. (Emphasis added.)

When speaking about those who are killed by terrorists, be specific, name them, and tell us about them. Humanize these individuals. They are more than just statistics or stick figures.

I have written 18 articles and produced a Web page, HUSSEINandTERROR.com, to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein did have ties to terrorism....

To show that Saddam Hussein's support of terrorism cost American lives, I remind people about the aid and comfort he gave to terrorism master Abu Nidal. Among Abu Nidal's victims in the 1985 bombing of Rome's airport was John Buonocore, a 20-year-old exchange student from Delaware. Palestinian terrorists fatally shot Buonocore in the back as he checked in for his flight. He was heading home after Christmas to celebrate his father's 50th birthday.

In another example, those killed by Palestinian homicide bombers subsidized by Saddam Hussein were not all Israeli, which would have been unacceptable enough. Among the 12 or more Americans killed by those Baathist-funded murderers was Abigail Litle, the 14-year-old daughter of a Baptist minister. She was blown away aboard a bus in Haifa on March 5, 2003. Her killer's family got a check for $25,000 courtesy of Saddam Hussein as a bonus for their son's "martyrdom."

Is all of this designed to press emotional buttons? You bet it is. Americans must remain committed -- intellectually and emotionally -- to this struggle. There are many ways to engage the American people. No one should hesitate to remind Americans that terrorism kills our countrymen -- at home and abroad -- and that those whom militant Islam demolishes include promising young people with bright futures, big smiles, and, now, six feet of soil between them and their dreams.

Never forget.

RELATED: The mother of Abigail Litle's murderer threw a party in her son's honor a few days after the killing. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz asks how we fight a culture where mothers urge their sons to prefer martyrdom to life.

"We are going to win, because they love life and we love death," said Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. He has also said: "[E]ach of us lives his days and nights hoping more than anything to be killed for the sake of Allah." Shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden told a reporter: "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us."

"The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death," explained Afghani al Qaeda operative Maulana Inyadullah....

How should Western democracies fight against an enemy whose leaders preach a preference for death?...

The traditional sharp distinction between soldiers in uniform and civilians in nonmilitary garb has given way to a continuum. At the more civilian end are babies and true noncombatants; at the more military end are the religious leaders who incite mass murder; in the middle are ordinary citizens who facilitate, finance or encourage terrorism. There are no hard and fast lines of demarcation, and mistakes are inevitable -- as the terrorists well understand.

We need new rules, strategies and tactics to deal effectively and fairly with these dangerous new realities....

(Thanks to Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton for calling this article to my attention.)

If you don't know about the case of Ezra Levant, you should. Here is his account of when he was called before the Alberta Human Rights Commission to respond to complaints from radical Muslim leaders that he had published the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed in his magazine two years ago.

I told [human rights officer Shirlene McGovern] that the complaint process itself was a punishment. Even if I was eventually acquitted, I would still lose -- hundreds of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills. That's not an accident, that's one of the tools of these commissions. Every journalist in the country has been taught a lesson: Censor yourself now, or be put through a costly wringer. I said all this and then Officer McGovern replied, "You're entitled to your opinions, that's for sure."

But that's not for sure, is it? We're only entitled to our opinions now if they don't offend some very easily offended people.

One of the complainants against me is someone I would describe as a radical Muslim imam, Syed Soharwardy. He grew up in the madrassas of Pakistan and he lectures on the Saudi circuit. He advocates sharia law for all countries, including Canada. His website is rife with Islamic supremacism -- offensive to many Canadian Jews, gentiles, women and gays. But his sensitivities -- his Saudi-Pakistani values -- have been offended by me.

And so now the secular government of Alberta is enforcing his fatwa against the cartoons.

It's the same for Mohamed Elmasry, the complainant against Maclean's magazine for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book, America Alone. Egyptian-born Elmasry has publicly said that any adult Jew in Israel is a legitimate target for a terrorist attack, a grossly offensive statement.

Both the Canadian and B.C. Human Rights Commissions are now hearing his complaints against Maclean's.

Here's the ironic part: The laws that the Muslim extremists are exploiting to suppress criticism of Islam by a publisher who is Jewish were put in place at the urging of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who intended the laws to target people Levine describes as "invariably poor, unorganized, harmless neo-Nazi cranks and conspiracy theorists."

Levine says that Soharwardy tried to have him arrested three times; the police refused, but the human rights commission was happy to take up the case.

What a strange place Canada is in 2008, where the police care more about human rights than the human rights commissions do, where fundamentalist Muslims use hate-speech laws drafted by secular Jews, and where a government bureaucrat can interrogate a publisher for 90 minutes, and be shocked when he won't shake her hand in greeting.

You can see clips of Levant's appearance before the human rights interrogator and more information about the situation on his website, ezralevant.com.

UPDATE: iowahawk has captured the situation with this spoof of Thought Crime Commissar McGovern's report of the interrogation of Levine.






This may sound like an urban legend, but it's the real deal.

From now through Thanksgiving Day (November 22), AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile customers can send a text message of thanks to American troops abroad, free of charge.

Just text your message of thanks to 89279, and it will be delivered to an American serviceman overseas. You'll get an acknowledgment that your message was received, and you may even get a few replies. You can see some of the recent messages others have sent above.

Learn more by visiting AmericaSupportsYou.mil. I first read about this in Amanda Carpenter's recent column on TownHall.

In case you missed it from Monday's KFAQ Mornings with Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock, here's an MP3 of their interview with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton is discussing his new book, Surrender Is Not an Option.

About UN reform, Bolton said that efforts at marginal reform will never work, and the only way that wholesale change will occur is if UN contributions are made voluntary. Instead of a mandatory assessment funding all UN activities, which creates "an entitlement mentality" in the UN bureaucracy, nations would be able to pick and choose which UN programs are effective enough to deserve funding.

Bolton also discussed Iran's nuclear threat -- could be several years away, could be less than a year. Bolton says regardless, he doesn't believe in "just-in-time non-proliferation" -- ruling out the military option until Iran is on the verge or actually has nukes. He didn't use this phrase, but his counsel could be summarized as Barney Fife's watchword: "Nip it in the bud."

Medlock asked which is the greatest nuclear threat, Iran or North Korea. Bolton believes its the Norks and mentioned Israel's September 6th air strike on a site in Syria that may have been a joint North Korea-Syria nuclear project. Iran he described as the "world's central banker for terrorism."

In response to the idea that we could use deterrence to keep Iran in check, as we did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War: "You have people who prize life in the hereafter more than life on earth, they're not subject to classic theories of deterrence."

Bolton also discussed the Bush Administration's push for a Palestinian state, and the dangers of an administration's eighth-year search for a Legacy: "That's a dangerous period, because you can achieve a 'legacy' by giving away the store."

About Pakistan, Bolton said that America's priority has to be the security of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile. A revolution or even a period of chaos could put nuclear weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda. It's not a case, he said, of white hats for democracy vs. black hats in the military. He pointed out that Benazir Bhutto, head of the largest party in Pakistan, has the title "chairperson for life."

Regarding Iraq, Bolton said that an early pull-out would send the wrong message to both our adversaries and our allies.

Regarding the presidential campaign, it's his hope that his book will help keep national security issues in the forefront. He doesn't see anyone saying anything sensible on the Democratic side. He thinks all the top tier Republican candidates have demonstrated good judgment on foreign policy.

Gwen and Chris did a great job with the interview, and Bolton, contrary to his fierce reputation, was relaxed and pleasant to listen to.

I received an e-mail from Nageena Shahnaz Miftah, the wife of Jamal Miftah, responding individually to the seven people who spoke at the recent "press conference" (really a rally) held at the Islamic Society of Tulsa for the purpose of denouncing State Rep. Rex Duncan and other legislators who declined to receive a Koran from the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council. The seven speakers were there to condemn Duncan and the others as intolerant and bigoted.

Jamal Miftah was confronted at IST's mosque in a threatening way, called anti-Islamic, and then expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque, all because of an op-ed piece he wrote condemning those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam. The incident took place a year ago Saturday on November 18, 2006.

I suspected that the Miftah family would find it sadly ironic that this mosque would be the site of a condemnation of bigotry, and that turned out to be true.

I've added Mrs. Miftah's comments to my earlier entry about the press conference and about the latest information about the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council. Click that link to read what she has to say.

Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter Brian Ervin digs deeper into the controversy over the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council (GEAAC) and its gift of a special centennial edition of the Koran to state legislators. As BatesLine first reported back in May, the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council was created by executive order of Governor Brad Henry. Its meetings are held in state office buildings and its activities are supported by taxpayer-funded employees of the state's Office of Personnel Management. Unlike the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, which offered centennial editions of the Bible to legislators, the GEAAC is a government agency, not a private religious group.

Ervin provides, for the first time in print, the full text of the e-mail from GEAAC chairman Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour to legislators offering "the holy book of Quran." He also provides the full text of State Rep. Rex Duncan's response, also for the first time in print. (Chris Medlock had it online previously.)

Ervin saved the biggest news for last. After Henry's spokesman denied knowing whether the GEAAC was exclusively Muslim -- "I do not know if all members are Muslims because we do not ask appointees to any board to disclose their religious affiliation." -- and denied knowing the reason that Henry chose the awkward name for the group, Ervin asked Seirafi-Pour about the reason for the name:

"The name wasn't of my choosing, but we were happy with it. You'd have to ask the Governor why we're called that," she said.

She offered her best guess, though.

"The thing is, Islam is not limited to the Middle East--there are Muslims of West African descent and other nationalities from around the world," said Seirafi-Pour.

"If it had been called the 'Middle Eastern American Advisory Council,' it would have limited membership to Muslims of Middle Eastern descent," she added.

MORE: There are videos on YouTube of the press conference held at the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST) in response to the centennial Koran controversy. The user who posted them has disabled embedding so you'll have to follow the links below to watch the video.

It was more of a rally than a press conference. No questions from the press were allowed. Speeches were given by representatives of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance (the anti-evangelical lobby group), the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, the Oklahoma Conference for Community and Justice, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR, the PR arm of the Wahhabi lobby in the United States), Say No to Hate, the Islamic Society of Tulsa, and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.

Here is part one and here is part two.

From their remarks, it seemed that none of the speakers had read Rep. Duncan's complete e-mail, despite it being only three sentences long.

It's interesting that the OCCJ spokesman acknowledged that the GEAAC was "made up of American Muslims of Middle East countries," a fact that was omitted by mainstream coverage of the press conference. (That's about 20 seconds into part 2.)

I imagine Jamal Miftah finds it ironic to hear all these people talking about tolerance at the Islamic Society of Tulsa.

UPDATE: Jamal Miftah's wife, Nageena Shahnaz Miftah, sent me an e-mail with her reaction to the Islamic Society of Tulsa press conference, with a message to each of the participants, including one from her daughter to Allison Moore, a leader in IST who had been her daughter's Sunday school teacher prior to Jamal Miftah's expulsion from IST. (I've added some identifying notes in square brackets for the speakers she addresses.)

Here is my message to all the participants of this drama; Please come and talk to us and find out why my husband was declared anti-Islamic, anti Muslim in the very same place (the so called Al Salam Mosque) where Mr. Duncan and his fellows are now being condemned for refusing to accept Q'uran because of the passiveness shown by the Muslim leadership when it comes to condemn terrorism or take practical steps to stop terrorist activities.

My responses to each of the speakers is as under:

1- Mrs. Sandra Rana is probably the same lady, who didn't even had the courage or decency to speak truth about my husband's situation to a fellow Christian, Mr. James Mishler back in 2006.

2- Mr. Marlin Lavanhar [of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry]: Please investigate to find out about the unapologetic bigotry of IST, CAIR and ISNA toward my husband. The way the leadership of these organization reacted (or remained silent) to my husband's op-ed piece condemning terrorism is suggestive of their real objective which appears to be promotion of violence and siding with terrorism.

3- Mr. [Keith] McArtor [of Tulsa Interfaith Alliance] please; who are you giving all these good lessons to?! the IST leadership? Please find out what they did to my husband when he had come peacefully to offer his prayers to the so called peace mosque on November 18th, 2006.

Sir, they have two faces: one is when they want to fool American people with beautiful faces and voices of people like Sheryl Siddiqui, Sandra Rana, Allison Moore etc. The other one is for their own members where they use the street gang sort of tactics through other leaders of the so called mosque to suppress the voices of moderate muslims against terrorism like the one of my husband.

4- Now to Justice Waidner, Say No to Hate. Ma'am you are in the wrong place and with the wrong group. Please don't waste your time on their face saving maneuvers. Come talk to me.

5- Mr. [Oliver] Howard [of Oklahoma Conference on Community and Justice], although me and my family are saddened with Mr. Duncan's refusal to accept the gift of Quran, we understand the obvious reason; hypocrisy of muslims' leaders around the world in the west and the US and especially within the leadership of IST, CAIR and ISNA.

5- Mr. [Razi] Hashimi [of Council on Islamic American Relations], where were you hiding when my husband Jamal Miftah was expelled from the so called Al Salam Mosque where you are lectuing on peace. what was his fault? Condemning Terrorism!

6- Mr. David Bernstein [of Jewish Federation of Tulsa], you are in the wrong place you should have come here and heard the prayers for destruction of Jews and Christians by the then Imam of this so called Mosque, Ahmad Kabbani, during the period of war between terrorist of Hizbullah and Hamas with Israel. When my husband refused to participate and agree with those prayers, the said Imam single him out in an attempt to ridicule him.

7- Now for Allison Moore, my daughter Syeda Mufleeha Miftah who used to go to Sunday school to her classes prior to November 18th, 2006:

"Ms. Moore, I was very disappointed when I heard from my friends that you lied about my father's article by saying that he has written in his article that Tulsa mosque is supporting terrorism. This was in fact a misinformation campaign about my dad started by IST leaders to which you were a party. Why are you now complaining about misinformation? What you sow so shall you reap."

The reason that my husband was expelled from Tulsa mosque is he was not giving the IST leadership the free hand to work in gray areas by laws of the land and laundering money to people/organizations of dubious credentials for which he has documentary evidence besides letters sent to the IST leadership during the year 2005 through certified mail. He would not let them use the mosque to preach hatred to the community members and has always condemned terrorism by his words and deeds.

Would all the speakers, minus the hypocrites, come and talk to us?

Sincerely,
Nageena Shahnaz Miftah

On Wednesday Karol Sheinin of Alarming News participated in a debate, speaking against the proposition that the government knew in advance about 9/11. Shawn Macomber was there and reviewed the debate for the American Spectator blog:

Suffice to say, Karol speaks for herself better than I could summarize her, but I will confirm she is a smart, well-spoken young woman whose best attributes were definitely on display during the debate.

Sander Hicks presented the "Yes" position, which wasn't based on any theories I'd heard previously from 9/11 Truthers. Hicks pegs Pakistani intelligence as a major participant, and said his lack of adherence to some 9/11 Truth dogma has led many in that movement to label him, despite his belief that the government let the attacks happen, as an agent. (Sheinin parodied this as a kind of conspiracy-theories-are-all-crazy-except-for-mine attitude.)

Karol has posted the text of her remarks, and I'm impressed not only by how well she argued against the specifics of her opponent's position, but how clearly she articulated the characteristic flaws of the conspiracy-theory mindset. Here are some of her quotable quotes.

On why people might feel more at ease believing 9/11 was a government conspiracy rather than an Islamist offensive:

It isn't a complicated network of Islamist terrorists that want to kill you, it's George W. Bush. And really, which would you prefer as an enemy? The people who would chop off your head and send it to your mother or the guy who mispronounces nuclear and falls off his Segway?

On the proliferation of competing conspiracy theories:

Most conspiracy theorists subscribe to their favorite theory and generally discount the rest. In fact, Anthony Luppe who wrote the forward to Sander's book laughs at the people who believe in some of the more outlandish theories like that there were no airplanes or that there were missiles on the planes and essentially accuses the people who believe in conspiracy theories other than the ones described in this particular book as possible government plants who want to deliberately spread disinformation so that we don't find out the truth.

On the malleability of conspiracy theories:

Some conspiracy theorists, particularly the ones who profit off of their nuttiness simply adjust their perspective when one of their theories gets discredited. With every new video they produce, they just edit out the old information that they can no longer support.

On the selective skepticism of conspiracy theorists:

Sander writes "the official story from the FBI is that Atta was a fundamentalist Muslim who hated America and led the 9/11 attacks. In real life, however, Atta seemed to be something of an Egyptian double agent who fell in love with an American ex-stripper and did a lot of coke." Again, assuming this is accurate, which, again, I doubt, my opponent can believe that the US government was ok with killing 3000 of its people and the CIA is in Pakistan's pocket, but the idea that this one guy could live a hypocritical life is just beyond his imagination.

I actually laughed out loud when my opponent talks about one of his main sources Randy Glass, who my opponent describes as "a jewelry conman turned FBI informant", that Glass revealed more every time they spoke. It never crosses my opponent's mind that he was making it up as he went along.

Why she agreed to participate in the debate:

When I agreed to do this debate, I had so many people ask me why I would do something like this. They felt I was giving legitimacy to what they consider a crackpot segment of our population. I'm not doing this for the people in the "Investigate 9/11" shirts, I'm not trying to change their minds, if they've got the shirt I guess they're pretty committed. I'm also not doing this so that people who agree with me can nod their heads. I'm doing it so there can be a record of opposition to the people that support these conspiracy theories, lest they somehow find their place into our history books.

For her willingness to speak the truth to troof, and for doing it so ably, Karol deserves our thanks and admiration. (And congratulations for winning the vote at the end of the debate.)

State Rep. Mike Reynolds is putting the focus in the recent Centennial Koran uproar where it belongs: Why did Gov. Brad Henry create a state agency devoted promoting the interests of the Muslim religion, and why does it exist under a misleading name? I refer, of course, to the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.

Reynolds has called on Henry to modify the membership or scrap the board, according to the McCarville Report Online:

"Governor Henry, why would you have an 'Ethnic Advisory Council' that includes members from only one ethnic group?" asked Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. "The council should either be reformed to reflect its apparent mission or preferably disbanded."

Actually, I think they do have multiple ethnic groups, although not reflective of the diversity of ethnic groups in Oklahoma. There are members from Pakistan and Iran as well as Arabs of various countries of origin. What they all seem to have in common is religion. We're still waiting on Gov. Henry to identify any of the members of this group who are Christians or Jews, despite the presence of many Jews and Christians of Middle Eastern or Near Eastern origin in Oklahoma.

Reynolds is wondering, too, about the reaction from GEEAC chairman Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour to legislators who declined the Korans:

Seirafi-Pour has complained that some lawmakers were rude, he noted, when they declined the Quran: "I don't understand why she rushed to the media and acted outraged that we turned her down," Reynolds said. "What was the point of asking us if we wanted a copy? I contacted her last week and she could not provide me with any mean-spirited responses. In fact she agreed to forward all of the e-mails on Saturday, but I have yet to receive them.

"I know that I have nothing to hide," Reynolds said."Apparently, that's more than the members of the Ethnic American Advisory Council can say. Why else would they and the Governor choose a name that disguises their Muslim identify?"

In related news, Rod Dreher has a story about a group who protested Six Flags over Texas sponsoring a special Muslim day at the theme park in conjunction with the Islamic Circle of North America. A Muslim legal group is suing the protest organizer for defamation:

Khalil Meek, board president of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, said the Muslim groups support the protesters' right to voice their opinions. What they object to, he said, is their allegation that the Muslim organizations, and therefore Six Flags, support terrorism.

The groups have filed a lawsuit accusing the protest organizer, Joe Kaufman, of defamation and slander and have obtained a temporary restraining order that prohibits him from harming, threatening or inciting violence against them.

From that same story, the city council of Carrollton, a Dallas suburb, deleted from a list of board appointees the name of a man who participated in the protest. Paul Kramer was denied appointment to the Construction Advisory and Appeals Board because he was visible in a newspaper photo of the protest.

Dreher notes that lawsuits have been used in other American cities against critics of Islam, pointing to a 2006 column by the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby. The Islamic Society of Boston sued a Muslim reformer, along with "journalists, a terrorism expert, and the founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, plus the Episcopalian lay minister and the Jewish attorney who together with [Ahmed] Mansour [the Muslim reformer] formed the interfaith Citizens for Peace and Tolerance in 2004." Doesn't exactly sound like a group of fire-breathing Islamophobes, does it? But they were sued by the Islamic Society of Boston for calling attention to their connections with terrorism advocates and other extremists, for reporting on the presence of hate-filled Arabic literature at the ISB's mosque in Cambridge, and for raising questions about the city's selling land for the society's mosque at a bargain basement price. While the lawsuit was dismissed, it served the purpose of harassing and intimidating critics of extremist Islam.

You need to read that Jacoby column. Ahmed Mansour calls himself a progressive Muslim, and he suffered for his opinions back in his native country of Egypt:

He had learned the hard way that Muslim reformers who speak out against Islamist fanaticism and religious dictatorship can indeed end up in prison -- or worse. It had happened to him in his native Egypt, which he fled in 2001 after receiving death threats. He was grateful that the United States had granted him asylum, enabling him to go on promoting his vision of a progressive Islam in which human rights and democratic values would be protected. But would he now have to fight in America the same kind of persecution he experienced in Egypt?...

He holds three degrees from Cairo's Al-Azhar, the foremost religious university in the Islamic world, where he was appointed a professor of Muslim history in 1980. He would probably be there still if his scholarship hadn't gotten in the way. The deeper Mansour delved into the history of Islam, the clearer it became to him that the faith had been perverted into a ''false doctrine of hate" -- a doctrine that has been spread across much of the Muslim world and that has fueled great cruelty and bloodshed.

His mounting opposition to Wahhabist radicalism drew the wrath of the powerful Al-Azhar sheiks, who removed him from his classroom and tried him in a religious court. For two years, he says, he was pressured to recant. In 1987 he was fired. Then the Egyptian government imprisoned him for two months.

Undeterred, Mansour continued to write and speak out against radical Islam. He has authored 24 books and more than 500 articles, many of them denouncing as heretical any Muslim creeds that ''persecute and kill peaceful humans and violate their human rights." The real infidels, he has argued, are those who share ''the traits of Osama bin Laden and his followers." Before fleeing for his life, he worked with Egypt's leading human-rights activists, promoting democratic values, funneling assistance to persecuted Christians, and advocating for the reform of religious education.

This is the Islamic Society of Boston's idea of an anti-Muslim conspirator? Then what, one wonders, is its idea of Islam?

We've been asking the same question here about the Islamic Society of Tulsa, whose leaders called Jamal Miftah anti-Muslim for expressing in a newspaper op-ed sentiments similar to those expressed by Mansour about those who persecute and kill in the name of Islam.

(You can read more about the ISB lawsuit here, here, and here.)

After dismissal of the ISB lawsuit, Jacoby wrote:

What the lawsuit was really about, it seems to me, was intimidation -- intimidation of anyone inclined to raise questions or express concerns about the Islamic Society's leaders and their connections to radical Islam. Libel suits have become a favorite tactic of Islamists, who deploy them to silence their critics. In yet another document produced during discovery, the head of the Islamic Center of New England advises Abou-allaban to "thwart" Fox 25 with a lawsuit. "If Fox is being sued for this story," he writes, "it stands to reason that they will be prevented from reporting on the story further while the case is in court."

Sad to say, such legal intimidation works. Once the lawsuit was filed, Fox 25 and the Herald essentially ended their investigative reporting into the Islamic Society's radical connections.

So while the Islamic Society's lawsuit was without merit, that doesn't mean it was without effect. Serious questions remain about the Saudi-funded mosque going up in Boston. Will journalists, public officials, and concerned citizens insist on getting answers? Or will they choose instead to look the other way, unwilling to run the risk of predatory litigation and bad-faith accusation?

Dreher points out that many states have anti-SLAPP laws, which can be used to block such predatory litigation designed to shut down public debate, and links to a Judith Miller column in City Journal explaining how such laws have been deployed in situations like the ISB lawsuit.

The common theme: The use of lawsuits and other means to shut down criticism or scrutiny of the activities and associations of Wahhabist Islamic organizations in America.

In the Washington Times, columnist Diana West considers the press reaction to the
decision by a growing number of legislators not to accept a Koran from the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council (GEAAC):

Of course, it's the rejection of the Korans that's making headlines, not their state-sealed if privately funded distribution. No one asks what the Koran has to do with Oklahoma's centennial, for Pete's sake; or why a government organization is proselytizing about "the exact words" of Allah; or how those words in that book sound to non-Muslims leery of Islam's age-old message to convert, submit or die. In our weird world, it's not the Islamic message that's branded hateful or even insensitive; it's the person who rejects it. This is the technique that usually shuts people up.

In digging into the GEAAC, West covers much of the same ground I did (see "GEAAC is back" (from last week) and "Is there only one kind of Ethnic American in Oklahoma?" (from May), but West also found this in the Islamic Society of Tulsa's October newsletter -- the quote is on page 9, but the story that contains it begins at the bottom of the front page.

Meanwhile, local Muslim advocates display utter bewilderment that anyone could construe Islam as anything but "very peaceful, very inclusive." To enlighten them, someone might bring up the key Koranic concept of jihad, or maybe ask a Muslim "apostate" in fear of his safety for leaving Islam, or a persecuted Christian or Jew in fear of his safety living under Islam, to explain.

Or, to keep things local, someone might ask Allison Moore, an Oklahoma Muslim quoted in recent stories, for elaboration. Why? Ms. Moore works on a newsletter published by the Tulsa Islamic Center. I downloaded the October issue and read an article that compares consorting with lax Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims -- "people of religious innovation and misguidance, those who abandon the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and advocate other beliefs" -- to nothing short of "doom itself" and "taking poison."

The article continues: "A man with any intellect should not sit in their assemblies nor mix with them. The result of doing so will either be the death of his heart, or, at the very best, its falling seriously ill." This is... how shall I put it?... not very inclusive.

Meanwhile, Chris Medlock is exposing the distortions in the way the media has been covering what State Rep. Rex Duncan said and did regarding the Commemorative Centennial Koran and the way they haven't been covering Rex Duncan's background.

zTruth is a blog, evidently based here in Tulsa, that focuses on Islamic organizations in the West and the spread of dhimmitude, homeland security, and immigration enforcement. Here's a recent entry with a stunning insight into attitudes of the leadership of the Islamic Society of Tulsa:

On August 25th, The Council of American Islamic Relations, CAIR of Oklahoma, and the Islamic Society of Tulsa honored 25 non-Muslims. Three of the evening awards went to Joe Picorale, John Fanning and Jim Robinson who were honored along with 22 other honorees for their contribution in promoting peace, goodwill and a greater understanding of mainstream Muslim beliefs.

Who are Joe Picorale, John Fanning and Jim Robinson? They are the three founders of TulsaTruth who believe, among other things, that there was a controlled demolitions of the WTC on 9/11 and that it was a conspiracy to frame the Muslim world. They also believe there is no proof Osama Bin Laden was involved in 9/11. I guess his videos that play the martyr wills of the men who flew the planes into the World Trade Center aren't good enough.

Read the whole thing to read the praise offered to the three "Truthers" by Allison Moore, who nominated them for the honor.

Here's a description of the awards evening from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's September 2007 newsletter (large PDF download):

On August 25th, the Islamic Society of Tulsa and the Council on American Islamic Relations co-sponsored a gala evening to reinforce our relations with people of extraordinary goodwill in our state. These non-Muslims supported Muslims through hard times, defended Muslim's rights and promoted our causes. At the event, they were recognized with a plaque, candies, corsages and boutonnieres and their remarkable actions were retold to the audience. The evening ended with the honorees walking down the red carpet with lines of applauding Muslims on both sides.

The PDF includes a list of the honorees (including former Mayor Susan Savage and Deputy Mayor Tom Baker) and photos of the event, including the very attractive plaques that were given to each honoree.

It's a noble thing for a community to honor outsiders who have been especially kind of helpful to them. But what does it say about the Islamic Society of Tulsa that its leaders would choose to honor these people who deny that radical Islamists killed 3000 people on September 11, 2001, but banned a man like Jamal Miftah, a Muslim who wrote an op-ed condemning terrorism in the name of Islam?

As Churchill said, Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.:

A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

"It was a scary moment," said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. "Our pilots were terrific. ... They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares."

Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., were also on the plane.

Cramer and Martinez said they had just begun to relax about five or 10 minutes after the plane took off under darkness.

Crew members apparently communicated to the pilots as they saw the initial RPG fired from the ground, Cramer said. After the first burst, the pilots maneuvered aggressively and set off flares used for drawing incoming fire away from aircraft.

Once the flares lit up the sky, lawmakers said, two more RPGs were fired as the pilots continued maneuvering.

Thomas Sowell aims his laser-like brain at the situation in Iraq and how political decisions led to the current messy situation and how stateside political pressures are about to make things worse.

Here's the heart of the column:

Nations cannot be built.

You can transplant institutions from one country to another, but you cannot transplant the history and culture from which the attitudes and traditions evolved that enable those institutions to work.

It took centuries for democracy to evolve in the Western world. Yet we tried to create democracy in Iraq before we created the security — the law and order — that is a prerequisite for any form of viable government.

Having made democracy the centerpiece of the reconstruction of postwar Iraq, Americans have been hamstrung by the inadequacies of that government and the fact that our military could not simply ignore the Iraqi government when its politicians got in the way of restoring law and order.

People will support tyranny before they will support anarchy. Both can be avoided by creating an interim government based on competence, rather than on its being an embodiment of democratic ideals.

Sowell gives several examples of nations that weren't at all democratic 50 years ago but are there now or are at least headed in that direction.

Hong Kong under British rule is an example of how a society can have freedom and stability without democracy. Hong Kong was ruled from London, and the residents of the Crown Colony had no say in their laws or leaders at all until the last few years before the handover to China. But life, liberty, and property were protected by due process of law. If you entered into a contract, you knew it could be enforced. Economic activity was generally free from heavy-handed regulation. The colony thrived and was an enclave of liberty.

It was a mistake for US politicians to hold elections and create a new Iraqi government as quickly as it did. And before anyone blames the neo-cons, the idea that free and fair elections are all you need to create a free society has a long pedigree, going all the way back to Woodrow Wilson. The notion that occupation should be brief, and that elected locals should be put in charge as soon as possible, is an article of faith in Western foreign policy that dates back to the decolonization movement that followed World War II.

What we should have done is to treat Iraq and Afghanistan as trust territories -- not owned like a colony, to be exploited for its resources, but held in trust for the peoples of those nations, governed by the US with a view to their long-term interests. Democracy would come eventually, but not until the rule of law was well established.

Sowell's assessment of the problems with too quickly reestablishing a democratic form of government doesn't mean that he supports leaving now, and he makes a pointed diagnosis of the intentions of some members of Congress:

What has gone right is that the Iraq war is already over. Our troops won it. But our politicians may once more lose the peace — and with disastrous consequences for us and for the world.

Peace has not been achieved in Iraq, though pacification continues — always at a cost in American lives — and shows signs of progress, much to the dismay of those who have bet their political future on an American defeat.

Defeatists have not yet had the courage to directly ensure defeat by cutting off the money to continue military operations in Iraq.

That would be taking responsibility for the defeat. What would serve their political purpose better would be to legislate preconditions for the spending of military appropriations that would make defeat inevitable, but let it be seen as Bush’s defeat, not theirs.

Along the Del Rio sector of Texas's border with Mexico, the Customs & Border Patrol is actually prosecuting illegals who immigrate for economic reasons, and they're finding it makes it easier to spot and deal with those who immigrate for nefarious purposes. According to Chief Agent Randy Hill:

“Our number one priority is protecting our border from terrorists, then criminal aliens, and third drug interdiction. What Operation Streamline has done is removed the ‘clutter’ of economic refugees from our primary mission. When we relieve ourselves of dealing with a large influx of economic refugees, it allows us to concentrate on border security priorities,” he said.

“Economic refugees” in the Del Rio sector are mostly Mexican and “Other Than Mexican” or OTMs, illegally entering the country looking for better paying jobs and opportunity. The CBP uses the term “economic refugee” to differentiate between a unarmed, non-dangerous illegal alien and what they call a “criminal alien,” or an illegal alien with a criminal rap sheet in the U.S. or some other country. Operation Streamline has reduced the flow of economic refugees to almost a trickle. Apprehensions for the Eagle Pass area of the sector are down a whopping 77 percent this fiscal year. Across the sector, apprehensions are down 61 percent this year.

Illegal entry comes with a sentence of two to four weeks in jail, followed by deportation. Re-entry after deportation is a felony and could bring a sentence of up to two years. Those arrested are fingerprinted, and a background check is done. They appear before a Federal judge within three days of arrest.

You're probably wondering what I was wondering -- you mean that wasn't already being done? Here's the typical sequence of events prior to Operation Streamline:

  1. Apprehension in the field.
  2. In-process at CBP field office.
  3. Suspect given a future court date for removal purposes and the defendant signs a promise to appear. Defendant released on own recognizance into the U.S. if OTM. Most Mexican nationals were transported and released in Mexico. Most OTM defendants were never seen again.
  4. Prosecution was reserved for violent offenders, gang members, suspected narcotics smugglers, and those with a history of repeated immigration offenses.

(Via MamaAJ in the comments at Hot Air.)

Jamal Miftah, who in November 2006 was angrily confronted, called "anti-Islamic," and expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's al-Salam mosque over his op-ed condemning those who commit terror in the name of Islam, filed suit today against the Islamic Society of Tulsa, the national Islamic organizations who own and operate the mosque, and certain mosque leaders as individuals, as well as two mosque members who were involved in the confrontation.

KOTV has transcribed the text of the complaint, which alleges assault, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The paragraphs that make up the last count may help you understand what Jamal and his family are going through:

24. The acts of Defendants, individually and jointly, are outrageous in that Defendants knew that if they labeled Jamal Miftah a “traitor… anti Muslim and anti Islamic” his life would be forfeit should he be found in a Muslim Country and labeled apostate and that he would live in constant fear and dread of vigilante “justice” from certain Muslims in the United States. 25. The acts of Defendants are the proximate cause of severe emotional distress in that Jamal Miftah is now labeled as apostate, forced along with his wife and four children to attend to prayers in their home, apart from the fellowship of other Muslims, prevented from traveling to any Muslim Country, including his homeland of Pakistan and robbed of his peace of mind and right to speak freely against those he believes have brought his faith into disrepute via attacks on his adopted homeland and other acts of terrorism.

Please pray for their protection and for the protection of their attorney, B. Kent Felty, who has shown a lot of courage in taking on this lawsuit.

(You may recall that Felty represented 52 Indian men in a civil rights case against the J. J. Pickle Co., which had confined them to the factory and forced them to work for less than minimum wage. Federal district court handed down a $1.2 million judgment against the company.)

UPDATE: See Dubya reminds us of a couple of anonymous comments posted from a Pakistani IP address which underline the seriousness of the threat implicit in the label "anti-Islamic." And he notes that the discovery process in this lawsuit "turn up all kinds of interesting information about how Islam is planned and directed in North America."

The magazine Insight is reporting on an effort to identify mosques in America which are promoting radical Islam, specifically the establishment of shari'a law and the imposition of Islam on the nation:

“Our initial investigation has concluded there are between 400 to 500 radical Islamic centers in the U.S.,” said David Gaubatz, the director of counterintelligence and counterterrorism for the Society of Americans for National Existence. “In those places, they preach an extreme version of Islam that says America and the West is the enemy. They espouse violence, hatred and the need for terrorism.”

Gaubatz is a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who now works for the Mapping Shari’a in America Project (www.mappingsharia.com), which is supported by SANE, a national non-profit group devoted to investigating the 2,300 Islamic centers in the U.S. for extremist activity.“...

Gaubatz maintains that he and his team of field workers at the Mapping Shari’a in America Project are not only focusing on major metropolitan areas. Although there is plenty of Islamist activity in cities such as Detroit, Dearborn, Michigan and Washington, he says radical Muslims are also establishing education and religious centers in small towns.

“They’re branching out and teaching the Jihadist ideology in small towns across America, especially in rural areas in places like Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina,” Gaubatz said.

I learned about this on a blog entry which expresses hope that the mapping project will take a look at the Islamic Center of Tulsa, given its ties to national Wahhabi organizations and its treatment of Jamal Miftah, who was angrily confronted and banned for a time from the Islamic Center of Tulsa's mosque after publishing an op-ed critical of those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam. Mosque leaders were especially upset with Miftah because he called attention to the fact that some American mosques had been involved in supporting terrorism.

That same blog entry has an interesting item about the struggle for control of a Trenton, N. J., mosque. The mosque was founded in 1981 as a place of prayer for all Muslims, regardless of their sect, and preaching of the Friday sermon was rotated. Now a group aligned with Salafism has gained control, and the mosque's founders are trying to regain control.

Erick Stakelbeck's latest report on Hot Air is an interview with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser, a cardiologist living in the Phoenix area, was born in Wisconsin and served 11 years as a Navy medical officer. He believes faithful Muslims are freer to practice their faith in America than in any other country on earth and that Islam is not incompatible with American notions of liberty.

In his interview with Stakelbeck, Jasser discusses the "flying imams" and their lawsuit against the "John Does" -- the passengers who alerted the crew to the strange behavior of the Muslim clerics. Jasser's organization is helping to fund the defense of the "John Does" in a lawsuit brought by the imams. One of the imams leads the largest and oldest mosque in Phoenix, and Jasser used to attend Friday prayers there, but was offended by the imam's use of the pulpit to preach his political opinions. Jasser believes the imams' lawsuit against those who blew the whistle on them is an attempt to stop our "front line of defense in the war on terror." "We need to find a way to immunize our citizens to reporting things because we need their eyes and ears."

Jasser also addresses the compatibility between Islam and a free and open society and discusses the film "Islam vs. Islamism."

It's encouraging to know that there are voices like Jasser's out there opposing the use of Islam to achieve political ends. It's in the country's best interests to give attention to organizations like AIFD and to people like Jasser and Tulsa's Jamal Miftah as a rallying point for American Muslims who object to the politicization of their faith.

And before you argue that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim or that moderate Muslims aren't true to their faith, please read this article by Jasser, in which he argues that anti-Islamist Muslims are key to winning the War on Terror:

Whether many pious Muslims acknowledge it or not, non-Muslims who believe that ‘the religion of Islam is the problem’ are growing in numbers. I can either dismiss their arguments as “Islamophobic” as so many do, including the Islamists, or I can begin to address some of the central issues raised positively in the spirit of understanding, logic, and most importantly in the spirit of American security....

Most should understand that strategically, identifying ‘Islam as the problem,’ immediately alienates upwards of one quarter of the world’s population and dismisses our most powerful weapon against the militant Islamists -- the mantle of religion and the pulpit of moderate Muslims who can retake our faith from the Islamists. The majority voices in the middle, the non-Islamist and anti-Islamist Muslims who understand the problem, have to be on the frontlines. They cannot be on the frontlines in an ideological battle being waged, which demonizes the morality of the faith of Islam and its founder, the Prophet Mohammed. We cannot win this war only on the battlefield. Political Islam has a viral recurrence in the form of an infection which needs a Muslim counter-jihad in order to purge it. Thus, we cannot win this ideological war without the leadership of Muslim anti-Islamists....

It is important to be academic about this assessment and not assume that what appears to be the silence of the majority of Muslims equates to agreement with the Islamist leadership who exerts a stranglehold over the community. We are doing our national counterterrorism efforts and Muslims a disservice if we assume that the ‘lowest hanging fruit,’ which comprise all currently Islamist organizations (CAIR, MPAC, or ISNA - to name a few) and their proportionally limited membership speak for all American Muslims. Their silence on the need for reformation and the need for Muslims to lead an anti-Islamist effort from within our faith community represents their own Islamist agenda of the members and donors but does not represent the general Muslim population.

MORE: From the perspective of Britain, Christopher Hitchens explains the problem with governments recognizing and validating radical Islamic leaders while ignoring moderates like Jasser.

It means that they find, to their annoyance, that the most extreme elements in their community are being recognized as interlocutors instead of themselves. I've heard a lot of secular Pakistanis complain that the cops, when they think we better go talk to the community, walk straight past them and head for the imam at the mosque, assuming that he's the one they want to talk to. Which means, of course, pretty soon these are the people who'll be handing out the welfare payments. They'll become the go-to people. Because they'll have a grant from the taxpayers, and they'll be the administrators of it. They will become the reps. It's a big, big mistake. We're going to regret it hugely.

That quote is from an interview given in conjunction with Hitchens's article "Londonistan" in Vanity Fair, about the growth of Islamic radicalism in the British capital.

The Judge Report passes along this news item:

Democrat John Edwards Wednesday repudiated the notion that there is a "global War on Terror," calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained American military resources and emboldened terrorists.

Mr. Going's response: A photo he took of the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. And video of John "F-Troop" Edwards on the O'Reilly Factor from October 2001. In response to O'Reilly's question about how Democrats would respond if the war widens to "maybe Libya, maybe Syria, maybe the Sudan, maybe even Iraq," Edwards pledged that Democrats would be "united with the President throughout this war on terrorism."

Meanwhile, former Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Calvey is happy that Congress has voted to feed him and his colleagues in Iraq for a few more months:

Very decent of Congress to let us serving here in Iraq have bread and bullets, don't you think?

Looks like the Democrats in Congress are not so principled about the war as they previously claimed.

If they really think the war is immoral, then why cave in on the war funding bill?

The answer is that for many of them, this is all a big political game.

More Edwards:

SATIRE: Scrappleface reports on Edwards' plan for Universal Hair Care.

NOT SATIRE: Edwards denies involvement in $400 haircut: “Other people arrange these things, and I wasn’t personally involved in it.”

Joel Henry Hinrichs III, the OU student who blew himself up outside a packed football stadium on Oct. 1, 2005, was apparently not the only one in his family with violent tendencies. From the Nov. 23, 2006, Colorado Springs Gazette:

Thomas Carlisle Hinrichs, a 25-year-old Pikes Peak Community College student, says he thinks federal officers have harassed him since the Oct. 1, 2005, suicide of his brother, Joel, according to court documents.

He allegedly considered waiting at the FBI office to ambush an agent and also thought about killing his father and high school principal.

Hinrichs was arrested Nov. 15 at Pikes Peak Community College's Rampart Range campus with a Romanian-made assault rifle, bulletproof vest, military helmet, hunting knife and ammunition in the trunk of his car, according to Colorado Springs police.

The arrest came after his father, Joel Henry Hinrichs Jr., told police that Thomas had assaulted him and that he feared his son, whose mental health had deteriorated in the past year, would kill him.

This is not a new story, but I don't remember reading about it at the time. Big hat tip to Tulsa Chiggers for catching it.

Julia Gorin has been keeping a close eye on the story of the Fort Dix Six, the young Muslim Albanian men who were plotting an attack on the New Jersey army base. She has also been reminding her readers of some forgotten and unpleasant realities about U. S. support for a Muslim terrorist organization with ties to Osama Bin Laden.

It's not Julia's usual stock in trade, and here's how she explains her interest:

People often ask me how a comedian embarked on a Balkans-watching odyssey. When I woke up on March 24th to hear that the United States of America was dropping bombs on Europe on behalf of Muslims claiming oppression — in order to keep the conflict from spreading — it struck me as funnier than any joke I could write. When you help Muslims with their wars, it doesn’t keep the conflict from spreading. It spreads Islam. And it spreads to you.

Her sketch of the history of American involvement in Yugoslavia (from the same entry) deserves to be quoted at length:

I am sorry to report that, while Bill Clinton delivered the death blows to Yugoslavia, we started on this path with George Bush Sr., whose ambassador Warren Zimmerman flew to Sarajevo in 1992 to advise Izetbegovic to remove his signature from the Lisbon Agreement that all three parties signed precisely to avoid the civil wars that ensued. Zimmerman assured Izetbegovic that the U.S. would have his back if he wanted an independent Muslim Bosnia.

The rape, slaughter and dismemberment of Yugoslavia was a bipartisan enterprise from Day One, and it remains so. What makes the Clinton administration’s role more nefarious is that the first Bush administration was still operating on a Cold War mentality, in which any vestige of Communism was still a target — and Yugoslavia stayed fatally comfortable with the apparatchik system too long. Meanwhile, Islam wasn’t yet known to be the biggest international threat.

By 1999, however, the Islamic threat was a known entity and there were already two international warrants out for Osama bin Laden, including for the bombing of the U.S. embassiess in Africa. This is also why reasonable comparisons between our unholy alliance in Kosovo and our 1980s alliance in Afghanistan fall short. The Soviet Union was in fact an enemy and an international menace; the Serbs aren’t and never were — but Islamic terrorism was and is.

As well, while George H. W. Bush bumbled through the confusion that is the Balkans, Bill Clinton knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that his numbers of dead and displaced in Kosovo were a fabrication, but he needed a vanity war in his last two years in office so that the word “Lewinsky” wouldn’t be the last thing associated with his presidency. Outrageously, he, his wife, Wesley Clark, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke and other Clintonistas continue, even eight years later, to boastfully lie to Americans that we “prevented a genocide” in Europe with our “successful war” in Kosovo, where not a single American life was lost.

It helps when you’re fighting for the enemy.

Read all of Julia Gorin's May 2007 and April 2007 archives for more on this topic.

MORE: Political correctness almost discouraged the Circuit City clerk from tipping off authorities about the terrorist training video tape he converted for the Fort Dix Six:

When the teen and another employee went into a back room and began the conversion of the tape, they saw a group of bearded men wearing "fundamentalist attire" and shooting "big, f-ing guns," the teen later told co-workers.

Throughout the 90-minute-long tape, above the booming gunfire at a Pennsylvania target range, the jihadists could be heard screaming "God is great!"

The two employees "freaked out," their co-worker recalled.

At first, the teenage clerk didn't know what to do, his pal said.

"Dude, I just saw some really weird s-," he frantically told his co-worker. "I don't know what to do. Should I call someone or is that being racist?"

The fellow employee tried to calm his friend and told him that if what he saw terrified him so much, he should tell the police.

(Via Michelle Malkin.)

Karol remembers two of the Fort Dix Six:

When Elvis and Dritan Duka, two of the three brothers arrested on terrorism charges in Fort Dix, were kids, they were neighborhood bullies. When they got a little older, they became drug dealers.

How do I know? They grew up in my neighborhood, my brother and his friends used to brawl with them on a fairly regular basis. My brother's best friend's mom was friends with their mom. Then they moved to New Jersey and became Jihadis. Of all possible paths for the Duka kids, that one didn't seem the most likely.

They had been in the country illegally for 23 years, and despite numerous traffic citations, they were never detected, much less deported:

A federal law enforcement source confirmed to FOX News that the three — Dritan "Anthony" or "Tony" Duka, 28; Shain Duka, 26; and Eljvir "Elvis" Duka, 23 — also accumulated 19 traffic citations, but because they operated in "sanctuary cites," where law enforcement does not routinely report illegal immigrants to homeland security, none of the tickets raised red flags.

The brothers entered the United States near Brownsville, Texas, in 1984, the source said, which would put their ages at 1 to 6 when they crossed the border.

The source said there is no record of them entering by way of a regular border crossing, so they are investigating whether they were smuggled into the country.

So the folks who swim Rio Bravo near Brownsville aren't just Mexicans on their way to roof houses in Jenks. Some of them are Albanian Muslims from Yugoslavia who wind up living in Brooklyn and plotting attacks on U. S. Army facilities.

Julia Gorin asks why the media -- even right-wing columnists -- are so squeamish about saying that these alleged terrorists are Albanian Muslims, and she answers her own question:

The answer is that the Balkans narrative MUST remain what it is: Serbs=bad. Muslims=victim.

The pro-Muslim mainstream media aside, even conservatives jumped onto the anti-Serb bandwagon starting in the 90s -- because conservatives are often accused of being anti-Muslim. So the one bone they can toss the Muslims is to take the typical bombastic and outraged stance about what was supposedly done to Muslims in the Balkans. (Recall “Hannity & Colmes” condemning the “evil on display” in the widely circulated execution video of six Bosnian fighters by Bosnian-Serb paramilitary. Of course, you won’t recall the far more graphic images of dead Serbs -- for those are never shown.)

Never mind that the aforementioned executions were precipitated by mutilated, burned, decapitated, dismembered Serbs of all ages, whose bodies were stuffed down wells near Srebrenica, the site of “the worst atrocity since the Holocaust.” And that’s not even mentioning the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo for decades, as was reported in The NY Times, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post throughout the 80s.

If you want to know more precisely what these Albanian Muslim illegal immigrants were up to, Michelle Malkin has an excerpt of the complaint against the Fort Dix Six, and a link to a PDF of the full complaint.

UPDATE 5/17/2007: Newsweek reports that the INS knew that the Duka family was here illegally for 16 years and did nothing:

As a result, for nearly two decades, American authorities were aware that members of the family were inside the United States, and that they had probably come here illegally. While the asylum application was under consideration, the government effectively suspended any effort to deport family members as illegal aliens, the source familiar with their immigration history said…

However, another official familiar with the Duka case history said that the family asylum claim got stuck for 16 years at INS because of a bureaucratic paperwork backlog of more than 100,000 asylum applications. The official said asylum claims routinely sat in “filing cabinets” for a decade or more.

(Hat tip: Hot Air.)

A few days ago I wrote about OETA's scheduled program "Islam in Oklahoma," which aired Friday night, and about whether the people invited to participate in the discussion would provide a balanced and complete view of the topic. (Because of unexpected family schedule complications, I didn't get to see the show.)

A reader contacted OETA to raise the question directly and got a reply that began:

Thank you for sharing your concerns about Islam in Oklahoma. Please note that OETA worked with the Oklahoma Governor's Council on Ethnic Diversity to select the panelists and to ensure a balanced panel.

I assumed from the name that this council had representatives from the Hispanic-, Asian-, African-, and other hyphenated-American communities. Oklahoma has had influxes of many different ethnic groups over a century of statehood: Lebanese, Russian Jews, Czechs, Italians, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Hmong, to name just a few.

In Googling for mentions to "Islam in Oklahoma," I found this reference on the Oklahoma Women's Network blog

As a followup to PBS' recently aired "America At A Crossroads" series, OETA has taped a program featuring Oklahoma Muslim leaders. I urge you to watch this program on Friday, May 4th at 9:00 p.m on your OETA channel....Two of the many outstanding women leaders in Oklahoma's Muslim community are Sheryl Siddiqui, Director of Community Relations and American Outreach with the Islamic Society of Tulsa, and Marjan Seirafi-Pour, Chairperson of the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.

That's interesting, I thought. I knew who Sheryl Siddiqui was, and that she was slated to be a panelist on the program, but I'd never heard of Marjan Seirafi-Pour. And I thought it was interesting that a Muslim leader was the head of this Ethnic American Advisory Council, given the relatively small number of Muslims in Oklahoma compared to other ethnic groups.

So I Googled Marjan Seirafi-Pour and hit this agenda for the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council from August 2005. Here is the list of council members:

Dr. Sandra Kaye Rana, Chair
Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, Vice-Chair/Secretary
Dr. Riaz Ahmad
Malaka A. Elyazgi
Mohammad Farzaneh
Dr. Basel S. Hassoun
Dr. Mohammad Karami
Karen E. Bak
Dr. Fayyaz H. Hashmi

The membership doesn't seem very diverse or very representative of Oklahoma's ethnic heritage. Where are the Czechs from Prague, Italians from Krebs, and Russians from Hartshorne? Where are the Greeks and Filipinos?

According to the Governor's web page about the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council (GEAAC), the monolithic membership is intentional. "Ethnic" appears to be a euphemism for something different:

On May 27, 2004, Governor Brad Henry issued Executive Order 04-21, which created the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council. The purpose of the Council, which is to be made up of from five to 15 representatives of Ethnic Americans of the Middle East/Near East community of the state of Oklahoma, is to:

1. Provide advice and assistance to the Governor on the development and implementation of policies, plans, and programs relating to the needs and values of the Ethnic American community;

2. Provide advice and assistance to the Governor in matters involving civil liberties, equal rights protection and freedom of religion of the Ethnic American community;

3. Develop, coordinate and assist other public and private organizations with understanding problems concerning the Ethnic American community;

4. Conduct training programs for community leadership;

5. Cooperate with the Department of Education in advising and assisting school districts concerning Ethnic American issues; and

6. Secure appropriate recognition of Ethnic American accomplishments and contributions to the state of Oklahoma.

All Council members are appointed by the Governor.

Here is the current list of members:

Chair
Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour

Vice-Chair / Secretary
Vacant

Members
Dr. Riaz Ahmad
Malaka A. Elyazgi
Mohammad Farzaneh
Dr. Fayyaz H. Hashmi
Dr. Basel S. Hassoun
Dr. Mohammad Karami
Dr. Sandra Kaye Rana
Wes Salous

Let's strip away the silly "Ethnic American" euphemism and take the detailed information at face value. The council is to be "made up of from five to 15 representatives of Ethnic Americans of the Middle East/Near East community of the state of Oklahoma." If they really mean Middle East/Near East, there should be some Oklahomans of Israeli heritage -- Israel is in the Middle East -- perhaps some Armenian Christians, Lebanese Christians, Coptic Christians from Egypt, maybe someone from an old-line Lebanese merchant family like Bayouth or Beshara or Coury or Elias or Saied. The French teacher from my high school is Jewish and from Morocco and has lived in Oklahoma for at least 30 years. Wouldn't he be a good pick for such a council?

I may be wrong, and I haven't checked every name on the list, but I'd be willing to bet every one of the board members is a Muslim. Here are a couple who are for sure. I'll check the other names and add info here as I find it.

Dr. Riaz Ahmad, a biology professor at University of Central Oklahoma, is quoted in a departmental newsletter: "We have also been to Mecca, Saudi Arabia twice to do pilgrimage."

Malaka A. Elyazgi's husband Mohamed was quoted as a spokesman for the mosque in Norman following the October 1, 2005, suicide bombing on the OU campus. He was a business partner in a small shop in Oklahoma City with Mufid Abdulqader, who was indicted as a fundraiser for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, of which Abdulqader's half-brother is the supreme political leader.

(Abdulqader's story is frightening. He was a civil engineering student at OSU, worked at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and then went to work as an engineer with the City of Dallas. In his spare time, his rock band performed at Hamas fundraisers, where he sang lyrics like, "With Koran and Jihad, we will gain our homes back, hey, hey, hey! My precious eyes are for Palestine, the agony of death is precious, killing Jews . . . Death to Jews, is precious. Jews will not fear threats, only action. So Hamas, hit them with the shoe bottoms of Islam and Hamas!")

So why would Gov. Brad Henry issue an executive order to set up a special council for Muslims, giving it a name designed to hide its true purpose?

Some further Googling turns up a story in Wednesday's Oklahoman explaining why OETA is airing "Islam in Oklahoma," and suggesting that I'm right in my assumption that the GEAAC is really all about Islam:

State Muslims challenge TV show
By Judy Gibbs Robinson
Staff Writer

Oklahoma Muslim leaders will respond this week to what they say were some inaccuracies in the recent public television series "America at a Crossroads."

The Governor's Ethnic-American Advisory Council requested a chance to set the record straight after previewing the series before it ran on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority from April 15 through 20.

"We thought there were a couple of segments that did not put Islam in a positive light," said Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, the council's chairman.

OETA Director John McCarroll agreed to let council members preview the series and gave them 30 minutes of air time starting at 9 p.m. Friday to respond.

"They were concerned there might be a backlash in Oklahoma because most of it did deal with Islamic extremists," McCarroll said.

Feedback to discussion

The station invited viewers to submit questions and comments and got about a dozen each day, McCarroll said. Those responses will form the backbone of a panel discussion by Sheryl Siddiqui of Tulsa, Imad Enchassi of Oklahoma City and David R. Vishanoff of Norman. OETA's Gerry Bonds will moderate.

Siddiqi is director of outreach/community relations for the Islamic Society of Tulsa. Enchassi is president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Vishanoff is a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The series

The Public Broadcasting Service series "America at a Crossroads" consisted of 11 documentaries exploring challenges confronting the United States in a post-9/11 world. Topics included the war on terrorism, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience of American troops serving abroad and the struggle for balance in the Muslim world.

(Hat tip to American Infidel.)

The story has GEAAC speaking on behalf of the Islamic faith. GEAAC "requested a chance to set the record straight," because they "thought there were a couple of segments that did not put Islam in a positive light."

Next Friday night at 9, OETA, Oklahoma's public television network, will air "Islam in Oklahoma":

Oklahoma is home to more than 30,000 Muslim Americans. Join leaders from Oklahoma's Muslim community as they address the questions and issues raised by America at a Crossroads, Friday May 4 at 9 p.m.

(Is it just me, or does the background of that title image look more like Hebrew than Arabic?)

OETA says more panelists will be announced, but for now they only list Sheryl Siddiqui, a leader in the Islamic Society of Tulsa, Imam Imad Enchassi, Ph.D., president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, and Dr. David Vishanoff, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Oklahoma.

The facilities of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City and of the Islamic Society of Tulsa are owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which is part of a network of Saudi-funded organizations working to extend the influence of Wahhabism in the US. (There's more detail about NAIT and its related organizations -- the Wahhabi lobby -- in this post I wrote some months ago.)

There's a name that ought to be on that list of panelists discussing Islam in Oklahoma -- Jamal Miftah. His name belongs on the list for his eloquent condemnation of terror in the name of Islam. But it also belongs there because of the response that he received from the leaders of the Tulsa mosque, who confronted him angrily in the prayer hall and in the corridor of the mosque, saying that because of his column he was anti-Islamic, a label that could be heard by others as a thinly veiled incitement to violence against him.

Just this week, two more threatening comments targeting Miftah were posted from a Pakistan IP address at JunkYardBlog, simply because he condemned those who use their religion to justify their acts of violence.

If OETA spends an hour talking to two leaders of Wahhabi-connected mosques, without hearing any other Muslim voices, viewers will not get the complete story of Islam in Oklahoma. If you agree, drop a line to info@oeta.tv. OETA says they want input on the show's content, so let 'em (politely) have it.

UPDATE: A reader sent the following note to OETA:

I have always thought of OETA as an educational channel that was fair. However; regarding the upcoming program on “Islam in Oklahoma”, Oklahomans deserve an unbiased discussion. If OETA has two leaders of Wahhabi-connected mosques on the discussion panel without hearing any other Muslim voices, viewers will not get the complete story of Islam in Oklahoma. Please do the right thing in providing a fair and balanced program by inviting other Muslims such as Jamal Miftah.

Oklahomans are not stupid, please don’t portray us as such.

Here's the reply from OETA public information manager Ashley Barcum:

Thank you for sharing your concerns about Islam in Oklahoma. Please note that OETA worked with the Oklahoma Governor’s Council on Ethnic Diversity to select the panelists and to ensure a balanced panel.

We do have a non-Muslim academic on the panel, Dr. David Vishanoff, who is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He will be on hand to provide an objective viewpoint. Due to the short time of the program, the producers would like to keep the panel limited to the three panelists, which includes Dr. Vishanoff.

Please note the panel discussion will primarily involve a discussion of the experience of Muslims in Oklahoma. What the program intends to do is provide a look at the local experiences of those practicing one of the state’s minority religions. It is an ongoing conversation sparked by the recent PBS series America at a Crossroads.

In addition, the program will be moderated by Gerry Bonds, a veteran broadcast journalist.

Please let me know if you have additional questions or concerns.

Why, that makes it all better, doesn't it? The governor says these two Muslims are representative of the diversity of Oklahoma Muslims so it must be so. Never mind the ethnic diversity within Islam -- Arab, Pakistani, Indonesian, Turkish, North African. Never mind that there are other views than the Wahhabi view, even if those other views aren't as well funded.

And how can you have a panel discussion about local experiences of practicing Muslims while ignoring a very local, very recent experience of an Oklahoma Muslim that made national news?

Notice that the website statement that there would be additional panelists has been contradicted by Barcum, who now says that those three are it.

MORE about "America at a Crossroads," the PBS series to which "Islam in Oklahoma" is a follow-up: Okie on the Lam had this entry on April 9 about PBS's decision to suppress one of the films in the series. The film was called “Islam vs. Islamism: Voices From The Muslim Center.” It was one of 34 proposed films for this series selected for a research and development grant by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here's the description in the list of grant awards:

Islam vs. Islamism (Martyn Burke, Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev, ABG Films Inc., Los Angeles) will explore how Islamic extremists are at war with their own faith, and how the consequences of their ambitions and policies devastate the socio-economic potential and well-being of the Muslim world. The filmmakers will follow the stories of several Muslims who have been victimized by the radicals and who are fighting back.

Sounds like a story that needs to be told, right? The CPB thought so, because it then selected the film for one of 20 production grants -- the money needed to get the film made.

But now PBS is refusing to broadcast the film. One of the film's executive producers, Frank Gaffney, explained why in an April 12 Washington Times op-ed:

As it happens, I was involved in making a film for the "America at a Crossroads" series that also focused on, among others, several American Muslims. Unlike Mr. MacNeil's, however, this 52-minute documentary titled "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," was selected through the competitive process and was originally designated by CPB to be aired in the first Crossroads increment.

Also unlike Mr. MacNeil's film, "Islam vs. Islamists" focuses on the courageous Muslims in the United States, Canada and Western Europe who are challenging the power structure established in virtually every democracy largely with Saudi money to advance worldwide the insidious ideology known as Islamofascism. In fact, thanks to the MacNeil-Lehrer film, the PBS audience soon will be treated to an apparently fawning portrait of one of the most worrisome manifestations of that Saudi-backed organizational infrastructure in America: the Muslim Student Association (MSA). The MSA's efforts to recruit and radicalize students and suppress dissenting views on American campuses is a matter of record and extremely alarming.

In an exchange with me aired on National Public Radio last week, however, Robert MacNeil explained why he and his team had refused to air "Islam vs. Islamists," describing it as "alarmist" and "extremely one-sided." In other words, a documentary that compellingly portrays what happens to moderate Muslims when they dare to speak up for and participate in democracy, thus defying the Islamists and their champions, is not fit for public airwaves -- even in a series specifically created to bring alternative perspectives to their audience.

The MacNeil criticism was merely the latest of myriad efforts over the last year made by WETA and PBS to suppress the message of "Islam vs. Islamists." These included: insisting yours truly be removed as one of the film's executive producers; allowing a series producer with family ties to a British Islamist to insist on sweeping changes to its "structure and context" that would have assured more favorable treatment of those portrayed vilifying and, in some cases, threatening our anti-Islamist protagonists; and hiring as an adviser to help select the final films an avowed admirer of the Nation of Islam -- an organization whose receipt of a million dollars from the Saudis to open black Wahhabi mosques is a feature of our documentary. The gravity of this conflict of interest was underscored when the latter showed an early version of our film to Nation of Islam representatives, an action that seemed scarcely to trouble those responsible for the "Crossroads" series at WETA and PBS.

You can read an independent perspective on the dispute here. The film may yet air, but there are no guarantees.

N. Z. Bear at Victory Caucus has put together an easy-to-navigate view of the Senate version of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, S. 965. On the left sidebar, you'll see a list of projects stuffed into the bill. (For example, "Provision that extends the availability by a year $3.5 million in funding for guided tours of the Capitol. Also a provision allows transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate gift shop.") You can click on each one, and it will take you to the actual language of the Senate bill.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) intends to force a vote on removing several of the provisions which are clearly not unanticipated emergencies, disclosing any earmarks pertaining to the bill, and . According to his office, he has filed the following amendments to the bill:

648 Strike emergency funding for the 2008 political party conventions
649 Strike University of Vermont earmark
656 Public disclosure of all reports provided to the appropriations committees by this Act
657 Offset Ag emergency funding

The $100 million in funding for the 2008 political party conventions is to reimburse cities and states for the cost of security for events that are over a year away. This emergency appropriation is supposed to be for the current fiscal year, which ends September 2007. Coburn said there was no place for convention security in a bill funding military activities. "Members will have to make a difficult choice between booze and balloons or body armor and bullets."

National conventions are a lot of fun. They are a great opportunity for party activists, donors, elected officials, and consultants to renew acquaintance every four years. They are a great way to kick off the final push for the general election. But they don't serve a national purpose and they shouldn't be subsidized with tax dollars.

If the absence of money for security means that some big names stay away and only C-SPAN covers the conventions on TV, so be it. If it means that the parties have to scale down the conventions to be able to afford to hold them, that would be grand. Perhaps national conventions will once again be meetings where party business is transacted, rather than four-day telethons.

I don't expect Coburn to get a majority on any of these votes, but I'm glad he's at least trying, and I hope he manages to get his colleagues on the record.

Just posted on FrontPage magazine is an in-depth interview with Jamal Miftah, the Tulsa Muslim who last fall wrote a bold guest opinion condemning terrorism in the name of Islam and was expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque.

The interview fills in some fascinating details about Miftah's background in Pakistan -- some things that he hinted about in earlier stories and in my conversations with him. He talks about his life in Pakistan before coming with his family to the United States in 2003. Living in the North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan, he saw the harm done to ordinary Pakistani Muslims by militant misleaders who led them into battle against U.S.-allied forces across the border.

After the fall of Taliban regime, the leaders of TNS started coming back into Pakistan along with the groups of ordinary people who had gone with them to fight. During the course of time, ordinary people including myself realized that all the leaders made it back to their homes safe and sound, whereas a number of the ordinary men never returned. They either got killed or were held for ransom by Afghans and possibly the Taliban.

The interview also delves into his views on his faith and on the global war on terror. Miftah doesn't believe that Osama bin Laden is running an independent terrorist organization:

During the Soviet-Afghan conflict, many warlord groups, including that of Osama bin Laden's group, were receiving American money and equipment to fight the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of those groups joined hands to start the campaign for removal of American forces out of Saudi Arabia. They attempted to mobilize support within the Muslim world for their cause by misguiding the Muslims that the presence of 'infidels' in 'the land of pure' was a great sin and should therefore be prevented by Jihad. The campaign was supported by the inflow of petro dollars and was the joint agenda of Osama bin Laden and the then Crown Prince (the present King) of Saudi Arabia. He, during Clinton's earlier era, was very vocal about the removal of American armies from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was thus used as a launching ground for the campaign by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and their most trusted family friend Osama bin Laden who was to lead the campaign and the proxy war for the Saudi Kingdom.

The interviewer, FrontPage managing editor Jamie Glazov, challenged Miftah on his belief in a "silent majority of the peace-loving Muslims around the world":

Upon what evidence do you base this view that the “majority” are peace-loving? For instance, do the majority of Muslims in the world reject the teachings of their own religion -- which mandates war against non-Muslims? (i.e. The Verse of the Sword, Sura 9:25, 9:29, etc.) Do the majority reject the imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law – which is a mandate deeply embedded within Islamic teaching and tradition? (i.e. Sura 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294; and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi’ite sources as well).

Miftah explains how he and many other Muslims interpret those verses:

Let me first clarify the misconception about the teachings of Islam or for that matter any other religion. The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years. The revelation, as such, was during times of war, peace, oppression and rule of Muslims. Each verse, as such, has to be read in context of the conditions prevalent at the time of revelation and also the conditions of the Arab Society at that time.

In response to this and to Miftah's quoting of several verses from the Qur'an, Glazov pretty much says (as politely and graciously as he can), "No, you're wrong," and quotes a number of Islamic scholars down through the years who reject the moderate Muslim hermeneutic, including Sayyid Qutb. Miftah is not deterred and explains why he and many other Muslims reject the teachers that Glazov cited.

If you're a Christian, put yourself in Jamal's shoes for a moment. Someone who isn't a Christian comes along and tells you that you don't really follow the Bible because you don't agree with the method of interpretation used by Charles Taze Russell or Tony Alamo or David Koresh or Felix Manalo. Can you see how offensive that would be?

Glazov seems to shift his argument to say that there isn't any "sect of Islam or a school of Islamic jurisprudence that is generally regarded as orthodox and does not teach the subjugation of unbelievers." He creates a sort of circular argument. Why are the sects or schools who don't teach the subjugation of unbelievers considered unorthodox? Is it because they don't teach subjugation of unbelievers or is it for some other doctrinal reason? Or is it because they aren't backed with Saudi petrodollars?

It's a variation of the old "no true Scotsman" fallacy: "No true Muslim believes in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims." Jamal Miftah says, "I am a true Muslim, and I believe in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims." The response -- "Well, then, you must not be a true Muslim."

Aren't we working against our own safety and security to recognize the violent wackos as normative and to treat Muslims like Jamal Miftah as marginal?

To his credit, Glazov asks Miftah what can be done to support moderate Islamic voices. Miftah's response:

Unfortunately, the majority of the mosques in the U.S. and in West are under Wahabi control. The Muslims living in those parts of the world should particularly be vigilant towards the activities going on in places of worship (mosques) and should rise up against the self-imposed leadership in such places, if they witness any suspicious activities. They have a responsibility to the societies they live in, raise and educate their kids and therefore should not tolerate any activity which is aimed at causing harm to the countries they live in.

(Yesterday, JunkYardBlog linked to the story of a Newcastle, Australia, mosque that was taken over by university students who follow Wahhabism. The students "evangelized" members of the mosque, then won elections to control the board.)

Miftah goes into detail about his expulsion from the mosque in November, setting out a clear time line. He draws this conclusion about the actions of the mosque's leadership:

In my case, it was a very daring attempt by the leadership of the mosque, who first tried to silence me by scaring me with the word “anti-Islamic,” which carries a lot of repercussions and finally made me an example for other Muslims by expelling me out of the mosque. It now makes me believe, from the kind of response and the treatment that I received, that there are elements within the mosque leadership who have sympathies for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. To root out and expose such elements we need moral support from organizations like yours and also legal help to prosecute such rogue elements.

Miftah sought the help of the ACLU in pursuing legal action against the mosque, but the ACLU said they didn't have the resources. (Glazov notes that the ACLU has plenty of money for other projects. A couple of examples: defending the pederasts at NAMBLA or working with an accused terrorist operative to develop a curriculum for teaching Islam in the public schools.)

If you're an attorney and can assist Jamal with his case, please e-mail him at jamalmiftah@sbcglobal.net.

MORE on moderate Muslims:

Rod Dreher responds to a reader who emails about the notion of banning Muslim immigration, thinking about the demographic differences between Muslim immigrants to parts of Europe and those who come to America.


The point here is that the situation can be a lot more complicated than simply saying, "It's Islam's fault." And if you make a blanket indictment of Islam itself, as my friend points out, you risk marginalizing good people, solid citizens. But on the other hand, when you look at poll data of British Muslims, for example, you find shocking levels of support for Islamic law (versus British civil law). Whatever the root causes of this state of affairs, it's frightening.

I am reminded by all this of how little, really, we know about the Muslims who live in the West. Or at least in America. I know the kinds of Muslims I've interacted with professionally here in Dallas, and it's not encouraging to me as someone who would welcome truly moderate Muslims here. On the other hand, I've been told by Muslims and non-Muslims, people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, that the leadership in mosques and Islamic institutions in the US has been bought by Saudis, and that ordinary Muslims don't dare object.

Dreher links to a National Review article he wrote about the al-Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, home to the first World Trade Center bombers and investigated for continuing to fund terror organizations. Dreher wrote about the fear non-Muslims in Brooklyn had about saying anything remotely critical of their Muslim neighbors.

If it's too dangerous for Arab Christians to speak out against Islamist neighbors, what is it like for dissenting Muslims? A senior terrorism analyst with The Investigative Project, which specializes in monitoring Islamic radicalism, insists that Muslims of goodwill believe, with reason, that standing up to Islamist thugs will get them killed. "Fundamentalists are the ones who have the drive. For non- fundamentalists, speaking out against them is not worth their life," explains TIP's Evan Kohlmann.

Kohlmann says that Islamic radicals get away with their activities both by stifling dissent within Muslim communities and by "turning any criticism into a civil-rights and a humanitarian issue. They know that by appealing to our sense of diversity and humanity, they evade scrutiny." Indeed, many non-Muslims in the liberal neighborhoods flanking the al-Farooq mosque would consider it racist and McCarthyite to question the loyalty of their Muslim neighbors.

Finally, Dinesh D'Souza wrote a four-part series in National Review Online calling on conservatives to work with "traditional Muslims" to oppose radical Islam. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.)

MORE: A moderate American Islamic organization is offering to defend any of the passengers who might be targeted in a lawsuit by the "flying imams" against US Airways:

Lawyers and a Muslim group say they will defend at no cost airline passengers caught up in a lawsuit between a group of imams and U.S. Airways if the passengers are named as "John Does" and sued for reporting suspicious behavior that got the Muslim clerics booted from a November flight....

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-area physician and director of American Islamic Forum for Democracy -- a group founded in 2003 to promote moderate Muslim ideas through its Web site (http://www.aifdemocracy.org) -- told The Washington Times his group will raise money for legal fees for passengers if they are sued by the imams.

"It's so important that America know there are Muslims who understand who the victims are in air travel," said Dr. Jasser. "But I hope it doesn't get to that point because the backlash will be even greater when Americans see Islamists trying to punish innocent passengers reporting fears."

From AIFD's press release:

4. It is our hope as Americans and as Muslims that U.S. Airways stand firm in its defense of its actions to have the gentleman removed for concerns regarding their behavior after entering the plane. This is not about race or religion. It is about the privilege to fly securely.

5. The constant exploitation of America's culture of political correctness especially in this setting of what is the most dangerous environment of air travel is out of touch with America's priorities. Such misguided priorities by Muslim activist organizations like CAIR will make the legitimate defense of our civil rights far more difficult when more serious complaints of racism and discrimination are involved. America is quickly becoming numb to their constant refrains and the polls demonstrate the profound ineffectiveness of their tiring campaigns.

6. The organized Muslim community should instead be working on developing a strategic plan to counter militant Islamism within the Muslim community. That would do a lot more to change public opinion than suing the airlines who are trying to keep Americans who travel safe.

(Via JunkYardBlog.)

A few weeks ago, CBN News anti-terrorism analyst Erick Stakelbeck visited Tulsa to talk to Jamal Miftah, the Pakistani Muslim who was kicked out of the mosque of the Islamic Society of Tulsa for his guest opinion condemning those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam. Stakelbeck also interviewed me during his visit.

The story will air tomorrow (Tuesday) on "The 700 Club," seen on the ABC Family Channel (Cox Cable channel 37) at 8:00 a.m. Central time, and again at 10:00 p.m. The story should also appear on the cbnnews.com website after it airs.

Click here to see Stakelbeck's earlier, brief report about Miftah on Hot Air.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the text and the video of Stakelbeck's report on Jamal Miftah.

Today's "Vent" video on Hot Air features Erick Stakelbeck of CBN News reporting from Tulsa about Jamal Miftah, who was expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's al-Salam mosque for his op-ed condemning those who commit terror in the name of Islam. If you haven't heard about this situation, this is a good overview.

UPDATE: I'm disappointed at most of the comments on this entry about the Stakelbeck report, comments that are dismissive of Miftah's courage, arguing that there's no such thing as a moderate Muslim.

There are times when I'm torn between the urgency to write about a topic and the fear of not doing the topic justice. This is especially true when, because of family and work demands and home chores, I don't get to sit down to write until it's late, and I'm tired and distracted. It's even more true when doing a topic justice has an impact on someone's life and reputation. The difficulty is that, in this case, not writing about a matter also has an impact on someone's life and reputation.

In late December, someone tried to post a comment on my entry about Jamal Miftah, the Tulsa Muslim who published an op-ed piece in the Tulsa World condemning those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam. You'll recall that, for his trouble, Miftah was the target of an angry confrontation after prayers, and it was communicated to him that he was not welcome to come back. I wrote several entries about Miftah, and made the controversy the subject of my column in the December 13 Urban Tulsa Weekly.

The comment, posted from a Tulsa IP address by someone named Riaz Noor, accused Miftah of being guilty of murder and immigration fraud. Specifically, Noor claimed that his sister was Miftah's wife and that Miftah had murdered her, then used a visa obtained in the dead woman's name to bring his second wife to the United States.

By e-mail, I asked Miftah to respond to the accusations, and I asked some very specific questions of Noor, and both responded by e-mail. I had no way of verifying the claims, and I chose not to publish Noor's comment or to say anything about it.

In the meantime, Noor continued to publish the same accusations, verbatim, on seemingly every web page that mentioned Miftah. Miftah phoned me and asked if we could meet, as he wanted to show me some documentation that would rebut Noor's claims. We met a week ago, on New Year's Day.

Miftah told me that he had indeed been married to Noor's sister back in Pakistan, and that she died in Karachi in May of 1987. It was an arranged marriage, and Miftah never accepted her as his wife. He decided to send her back to her village. The morning of her death he was at work, and she phoned to plead with him to allow her to stay, but he refused. Sometime later he got a phone call that his sister-in-law had been gravely injured and had been taken to the hospital. But when he arrived, he learned that it was his wife who was there -- she had tried to kill herself. Two surgeries were performed to try to save her, but without success.

In a comment on In the Bullpen (one of the blogs where Noor's accusations appeared), Miftah wrote:

The fact of the matter is that at the time when [Riaz Noor's] sister attempted suicide, his other sister (Shahida) was there along with others. They took her to Jinnah Hospital in Karachi and after struggling with life for more then 10 hours and two major surgeries to save her life; she died on the night of May 21, 1987 (which can be verified from Hospital record).

So he knows how his sister died and that’s why never challenged her suicide before.

Miftah showed me a faxed statement from a specific Karachi police station setting out the police record in the matter.

It was a year and a half later, during a visit to Pakistan by his sister, who lived in Tulsa, that Miftah and his new wife went with his sister to the American consulate to apply for an immigration visa to the U.S. Miftah showed me the stamped and dated receipt from the consulate, establishing that the visa was obtained for his second wife. The document makes Riaz Noor's claim -- that Miftah obtained the visa for his first wife, then fraudulently used it for his second wife under his first wife's stolen identity -- an impossible scenario. The timeline doesn't work.

Miftah showed me other documents and provided me with some additional information. There is another thread to the story, a fascinating thread, but it will have to wait for another day. From what I was shown, and from what I was able to verify independently, I believe Jamal Miftah is an honest man and is telling the truth.

Mosque of peace?

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This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Jamal Miftah and his treatment by leaders of the Islamic Society of Tulsa's al-Salam ("Peace") mosque over his guest editorial in the October 29 Tulsa World. (Here's a link to the text of his op-ed.)

The same issue has another letter from Miftah, in which he makes the case from the Qu'ran that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews, and that means that Palestinian attacks on Israel cannot be justified as jihad. (It's on a page with the rest of the letters, so scroll down once you click to it.)

In the story I link to eteraz.org, a blog and web community for progressive Muslim activism. Ali Eteraz interviewed Jamal Miftah and has written several more articles about the situation. Another site of interest is the Free Muslims Coalition:

The Free Muslims Coalition is a nonprofit organization made up of American Muslims and Arabs of all backgrounds who feel that religious violence and terrorism have not been fully rejected by the Muslim community in the post 9-11 era.

The Free Muslims was created to eliminate broad base support for Islamic extremism and terrorism and to strengthen secular democratic institutions in the Middle East and the Muslim World by supporting Islamic reformation efforts.

The Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. The Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously. Unfortunately most other Muslim leaders believe that in terrorist organizations, the end justifies the means.

Here's an interesting piece from their blog about the two faces of Saudi Arabia -- is it friend or foe to the West?

So is the Saudi Arabian government a friend of the United States or does Saudi Arabia propagate hate and intolerance among American Muslims and Muslims world wide? The answer to both of these questions is yes. The Saudi Arabian government is a great friend to the United States and at the same time many in Saudi Arabia, including some who receive government funding propagate hate and intolerance against anyone who does not share their Wahabi inspired ideology. The answers to both these questions may seem inconsistent and counter intuitive but these seemingly inconsistent answers reflect the complexity of modern day Saudi Arabia.

By now everyone has heard of the historic compact between the Saudi Royal Family and the fanatical Wahabi religious establishment. According to this agreement, the Saudi Royal family deals exclusively with matters of state while the Wahabi religious establishment deals with issues of morality which includes substantial control over the education system and the substantive interpretation of Islam. It is this division of power that produces the two faces of Saudi Arabia.

As long as my column is this week, I've got much more material that I didn't use, particularly from my interview with Jamal Miftah, and I have more research to do on Saudi funding of Islamic organizations in the West. I hope to get this material out here on BatesLine or in UTW.

Jamal Miftah was on Fox News talking about the confrontation at the Islamic Society of Tulsa over his op-ed condemning terror in the name of Islam. Ms. Underestimated has video.

In the video Miftah makes it clear that it was not some back-pew parishoner who confronted him in the prayer hall, but it was Ahmed Kabbani, the imam of the mosque. And it was the head of the operating council of the mosque, Houssam Elsoueissi, who confronted him in the hallway. Both called him "anti-Islamic" for what he wrote in the article, and he regards that an implied death threat, as it is considered a meritorious act to kill an apostate Muslim.

A little over a week ago, Ali Eteraz of the progressive Muslim online community Eteraz.org interviewed Tulsan Jamal Miftah about the anti-terrorist column he wrote and the backlash he experienced.

Eteraz published a follow-up after the Tulsa World's story last Friday, December 1, including Miftah's response to the story (also published here at BatesLine). In the conclusion, Eteraz urges his readers to urge two national organizations to get involved -- the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Then, last Saturday, Eteraz defended Miftah on the point of his op-ed which seems to have generated the most controversy:

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in [terrorists'] hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

Noting the complaint of the Islamic Center of Tulsa that Miftah has accused IST of being such a mosque, Eteraz writes:

The thing is, Miftah didn't say what the IST is saying he did. He didn't say "American mosques support terrorists." He said "even" American mosques have been subverted in the past. Just because the IST does not know of any that have been so subverted does not mean that Miftah becomes wrong. He is right to call them liars.

It's an interesting perspective, and interesting, too, to read the comments.
Since it's a month old, Miftah's op-ed has passed into the Whirled's archives, but I found the complete text here.

UPDATE: Eteraz has posted some further thoughts, seeing some lessons for Muslim reformists, and he also posted an e-mail from Miftah:

Think about forming an Alliance of like-minded Muslims, and let's begin our Jihad (struggle) against such rogue leadership of the so called Islamic institutions, who, in the name of Islam, are misguiding the ordinary simple Muslims and continuously causing a bad name for our pious religion.

In Miftah's e-mail, there's an interesting comment about forgiveness which stands in contrast to Christianity: Jesus taught, in Matthew 6 in connection with His model prayer, that God's forgiveness of us is dependent on our forgiveness of those who have wronged us. In Islam, divine forgiveness for a transgression against someone is dependent on the forgiveness of the victim of the transgression. In other words, if I steal from you, I must gain your forgiveness before God can forgive me.

I met Jamal Miftah a couple of days ago, and we spoke at length. It was very interesting, and some of the thoughts he expressed to me about the nature of his faith are reflected in the e-mail that Eteraz has published.

At long last, the Tulsa World has printed a story about Jamal Miftah's expulsion from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's (IST) al-Salam mosque. You'll recall that it was an op-ed by Miftah that was published by the Whirled that triggered the situation. The story made local TV in Tulsa and Oklahoma City last Friday and immediately attracted attention around the blogosphere. I wrote about it here on Sunday, and the story was discussed on KFAQ Monday and Tuesday.

So it's curious timing: the Whirled seems to have waited until they had something to report that put IST in a positive light:

Local mosque lifts ban on outspoken member

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
12/1/2006

The governing board of Tulsa's Al-Salam mosque ruled Wednesday night that a Pakistani native who had been banned from the mosque can return.

Houssam Elsoueissi, president of the operating council at the mosque, said he would announce at Friday's service that Jamal Miftah is free to attend services as long as there is no disturbance, and that no one at the mosque should confront him.

Miftah was banned last week after a confrontation at the mosque over a guest commentary he wrote that appeared Oct. 29 in the Tulsa World.

Let's look at the timeline:

On Friday, November 24, KOTV reporter Omar Villafranca reported on the incident and Miftah's expulsion. Miftah describes how he was confronted and threatened at the mosque and says he had filed a police report about the confrontation.

Miftah says several Muslims told him he is no longer allowed at the mosque. He says leaders told him there is only one way he can come back to worship.

[Miftah:] "There are two members of the community who spoke to them [mosque leaders] and they have said, 'Well, he has to apologize. He has to take his article back, and that is the only way we can let him come back into mosque.'"

Villafranca concluded his story with this:

Now, I did speak with one of the leaders of the mosque and he has a different version of the story. He told me that Miftah was being loud in the prayer hall and that's why he was asked to leave. The leader also told me Miftah can come back to the mosque if he apologizes for being loud in the prayer hall. He also added that the apology does not have to be public. And, Terry, he also says that he does not have to apologize for that column.

(I have been unable to find the story on KOTV's website.)

Tag to the same story on Oklahoma City's KWTV (Here is a direct link to KWTV's Flash video and a backup link to YouTube):

And we spoke with one of the leaders of the mosque, he told us Miftah was being loud in the prayer hall and that is why he was asked to leave. He also said Miftah can come back to the mosque, if he apologizes.

So although Miftah and this unnamed mosque leader differ about why he had been asked to leave and what he has to do to be re-admitted, both agree that he was expelled and that there was a condition placed on his return.

On Wednesday, November 29, this message from Jim Mishler, executive director of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, was posted as a comment on an earlier entry. In the message, Mishler reported a conversation with Dr. Sandra Rana, whom Mishler identified as a member of the mosque's governing board. Note how the story has changed, and note how it conflicts with the Whirled's reporting.

She reports the following::
  • First, the blog is incorrect in its most important statements. The mosque did not "expell" the man and he has not been told he can return only following an apology for the article.The Shura has not taken any official position on the article nor on censuring its author. In addition, the Islamic Society of Tulsa has strict rules about and is very careful in who it gives money. Only organizations on the USA approved list are given contributions from IST.
  • Then, about the incident. The man was physically removed from the mosque's prayer center by the Tulsa Police Department after a discussion about the article became an argument which ended with the author cursing, threatening to hit someone and refusing to leave when requested. The building supervisor called the police at that time. A restraining order was filed but was ended after 2-3 days by request of the mosque's leadership. He can attend prayer services at the mosque without restriction as long as he acts in an appropriate manner during prayers.

(I posted a comment responding to this. In short -- Miftah believes that is the reason for his expulsion and the condition for his return, and he did not make any claim about IST's contributions.)

There's also a conflict between what Rana is reported as saying about a restraining order and what mosque council president Elsoueissi is quoted as saying in today's paper:

Elsoueissi said he talked to police about getting a restraining order against Miftah to prevent further incidents at Tulsa the mosque.

Did they get one and drop it, or did they just talk about getting one?

Miftah e-mailed me with this response to the reported comments of Dr. Rana:

As regards Dr. Sandra Rana's response or contradiction, I have to make the following submission: - I believe I have met Dr. Rana a couple of times in meetings of IST. - I feel sorry that Dr. Rana preferred to misrepresent facts or has been misinformed about the events of the night of November 18th, 2006, and made the conclusions without any fact finding. I am also surprised as to why she volunteered to provide clarification on financial matters relating to IST without being asked by Jim Mishler or challenged by me in my article. - She claims that the man was physically removed from mosque prayer center by Tulsa Police Department. It is too shallow a claim to comment on. I would just request you to please contact Tulsa Police Department and find out for yourself the name or names of police officers who escorted me out of the mosque.

- As regards my behaviour at the time of discussion or argument or claim that I was becoming violent, speaks of the truth it self. How can a man with my physique and age can dare to become violent against a group of 10 to 15 Arabs waving the boots at his face. I was rescued out of the mosque by a fellow Pakistani living in Tulsa for the last 40 years. Last but not the least, the incident occured inside the mosque hallway which remains under survellance camera 24/7. You may please request her for video of the incident and judge for yourself what was going on and how I was rescued out of the mosque.

- Also why was the restraining order filed in the first place and then withdrawn by mosque leadership, as per her claim, in 2 to 3 days?

- The fact is that after Isha congregation (the last prayer of the day) on November 20, 2006, two days after the incidence, my article was discussed in depth by mosque administration and the faithful were informed about decision by mosque leadership of banning me from mosque until such time that I agree to apologise in front of Friday's congregation (preferrably on November 24th, 2006). This decission was conveyed to me earlier on Sunday through Khan Muhammad Zareef, which was refused by me. I asked him to convey to mosque leadership that I intended to sue them for threats, intimidation, and expulsion from mosque and if they were courageous enough then they can come and say in front of judge and jury that I was expelled from mosque for being anti-Islamic and if they did that, then I will accept whatever they say including my submission to OBL [Osama Bin Laden].

I can go on and on on the subject, but to what point. You can not win from liars. I again feel sorry for Dr. Rana, she should have done some fact finding before levelling any allegations. I invite her to talk to Mohammad Zareef Khan, she knows the guy very well, and she knows that he never lies and once she ascertains the truth, then I am sure she would owe me and Jim Mishler an apology for misrepresenting the facts.


The IST leaders quoted in the Whirled story said their only disagreement with Miftah's op-ed was with this statement:

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in their hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

Here's the section of the Whirled story reacting to that statement:

"We agree with most of his article, except the one statement that American mosques support terrorists.

"Our mosque does not, and I don't know of any that do," [mosque spokeswoman Sheryl Siddiqui] said.

Tulsan Mujeeb Cheema, executive director of North American Islamic Trust, said Miftah's views on bin Laden were "mainline views among American Muslims."

However, he said, "I was surprised that a person who has been in the U.S. for only three years, and not part of any national Muslim organization, would speak so confidently about Islamic institutions in the U.S."

Who is Mujeeb Cheema? As I outlined in an earlier entry, he is a leader in several prominent national Muslim organizations which are said to be a means of extending the influence and control of the extremist Wahhabi sect of Islam over the Islamic community in the United States. In 2004, Freedom House released a report about the hate-filled Wahhabist literature funded by the Saudi government which has become prevalent in American mosques. (Here is a link to a PDF of the full 95-page report.)

Earlier today, Jamal Miftah copied me on a reply he sent to the Tulsa Whirled in response to the claims made by IST leaders in the story. Here it is in full:

Dear Sir, I am perturbed and disappointed by the comments made in this publication of Tulsa World by Houssam Elsoueissi (Abu Waleed), president of the operating council of IST mosque, and Mr. Mujeeb Cheema, Executive Director of North American Islamic Trust. I will first take Mr. Houssam's comment.

While attempting to appear very generous for having agreed to make the following announcement on Friday services (that is today): "Mr. Jamal Miftah is free to attend services as long as there is no disturbance and that no one at mosque should confront him."

Is it a conditional permission?

From the tone of his language it appears that permission is conditional and that they have no remorse or regrets for the incident.

Is he implying that I was responsible for causing disturbance, if any, in the mosque, while confronted by ordinary Muslims in the mosque?

He is trying to create the impression that I was responsible for causing disturbance. So far as this allegation goes I was only responsible to the extent of writing the article which was published in Tulsa World on October 29, 2006. Any subsequent disturbance or excessive actions were initiated by Mr. Kabbani, Imam (leader) of the mosque, and Mr. Houssam Elsoueissi himself. The accused me of being traitor, anti-Muslim, and threaten me while inciting others to rise against me on the night of November 18, 2006.

I am also surprised why office bearers of IST are so defensive about channeling funds to illegitimate organizations by them. My article does not say anything to that effect by IST mosque in Tulsa, rather it was reference to the mosque in Brooklyn (Al-Farooq Mosque), New York, California, Albany, New York, Bridgeview, Illinois, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and one in Texas, and the result of investigation on the London bombing plot, leading its trails to funneling of earthquake donations collected in Britain to the terrorists involved. I have not yet made any allegation about IST on this count, yet some of their activities that I am aware of and have evidence certainly create doubts about legality of some of their activities.

Now to Mr. Mujeeb Cheema’s following assertion: “I was surprised that a person who has been in US for only three years and not part of any national Muslim Organization would speak so confidently about Islamic Institutions in US”.

Is he implying that for a Muslim, three years is too short a period to form an opinion and then in order for him to be confident, he has to be a member of national Muslim organizations to have knowledge of any illegal activities!

Mr. Cheema, I was not born three years ago. I have been a reader of the Times, Newsweek, and World Economist since 1980. There was, of course, a small break during 2003 and 2004, when I was in the process of settling in US. I am very well informed about what’s going on around the world and in the US, and especially with the internet revolution since 1990’s, events around the world are only a click away. The current state of affairs of the Muslims around the world is a result of the typical psychology of the leaders of so-called Muslim organizations where they are barred from expressing their views, as the leaders of such organizations for the fear of being exposed keep those voices suppressed by accusing them of being un-Islamic or Anti-Islamic when they speak or protest, and that’s what exactly happened during the shameful incident at IST’s mosque in Tulsa.

After going through the current ordeal, I feel and believe that the majority of the office bearers of IST that I have dealt or experienced are unfortunately liars, and I would prefer to boycott them and rather say my prayers on my own instead of saying it after a hypocrite like Mr. Ahmad Kabbani, the Imam of Tulsa mosque.

Thank you very much Mr. Houssam and Mr. Cheema!

I, however, thank Madam Sheryl Siddiqui from the depth of my heart for her honest efforts to diffuse the situation, but her efforts seem to have faded with the comments made by the others. She has also tried to communicate the wrong impression by relating my expulsion from the mosque by suggesting that it was as a result of disturbance. If at all any one was to be expelled from mosque for causing disturbance, then it should have been Mr. Ahmad Kabbani and Mr. Houssam and the group of 10 to 15 Arabs incited by them against me on the night of November 18th, 2006, and in all fairness not me.

More as it develops.

Yesterday I received a nice note from Jamal Miftah, the Pakistani immigrant who wrote a bold op-ed piece condemning al-Qaeda and terrorism in the name of Islam, and has suffered expulsion from the local mosque as a result:

I am Jamal Miftah and the unfortunate writer of an article against activities of Al Qaida. I still am unable to to give a rational reason to the unrational behaviour of the office bearers of Islamic Society of Tulsa, which amounted to gross vandalism in this civilized society and country. They have no shame or remorse todate and are constantly lying and shifting their position on the unfortunate occurance all the time. I can only pray for them and hope that their hearts will soften one day so that they can realize the pain and the suffering they have given to me and my family in the last 9 or 10 days. I thank you all for the much needed moral support.

I plan to continue to dig into this story and will keep you informed.

RELATED: Ali Eteraz, who posted an interview with Miftah which I linked, complains that no one in the "Rightosphere" is interested in staying with the story:

The rightosphere was all over the news about Jamal Miftah, the guy in Oklahoma who wrote an article condemning bin Laden and then subsequently got kicked out of his mosque. Good for the rightosphere.

But once the rightosphere had done their celebratory dance about how there are no "moderate" Muslims, it went along on its merry way. Meanwhile, I went and talked to Miftah. You think the rightosphere would want to follow up on it since they are so serious about empowering moderates.

Not quite. I gave it a day and a half to see if any of the big boys — hell, even little boys — would pick up my conversation with Miftah. Plenty of my readers went out and touted it. Nada. Oh look its me, having to do it all by my effing self, yet again.

He has a point. A Technorati search turned up only two links to the interview. (Technorati seems to have missed my link.)

Blogger Ali Eteraz has posted an interview with Jamal Miftah about his banning by the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST). (See my previous entries on the topic here and here.)

(Eteraz describes his website, eteraz.org, as "the first interactive blog for Positive Muslim Activism." "Eteraz is an online forum whose goal is to mobilize people of conscience throughout the world to identify, discuss, and take action on political and religious issues involving Islam and the Muslim world. Eteraz seeks a humanist vision of Islam for the future and looks to illuminate the wisdom and spirituality that made Islam a great religion historically by creating community, promoting informed opinions and more than anything else, moving its members to real world action." In Urdu, the word "eteraz" means "heartfelt disagreement." The site's structure is similar to that of RedState.org, where anyone can start a diary, and editors can choose to elevate certain diary entries to the main blog. In recent entries readers are encouraged to be thoughtful about where they give end-of-year zakat (alms), voting is opened for awards to honor the best of the Islamic blogosphere, and a call to write letters to the Tulsa Whirled in support of Jamal Miftah.)

In the interview, Miftah says that he doesn't fear reprisals from the Muslim community for his op-ed, but he does fear al-Qaeda sympathizers. He mentions the verses from the Koran which he cited in the original draft of the op-ed, but which he removed at the insistence of the Whirled. He talks about his relationship with the IST's leadership and gives some insight into the internal workings of the mosque, and he talks about his feelings and his plans:

Nor is Miftah excessively bitter. He certainly feels betrayed and angered by the fact that he was called numerous names by the IST and pushed out. However, instead of taking any aggressive actions, he has simply reiterated to the mosque leadership that he is not going to rescind his article; he is not going to apologize for what he said; and in fact, he is going to wait for them to apologize to him for mistreating him. What troubles him most is that he enjoys going to the mosque and feels the right to worship has been taken unfairly from him. "There's just one mosque. There's no place for me to go to say my prayers. A mosque is Allah's house and no one has the power to take that." When I asked what would happen if he was never welcomed back, he stated that he hoped enough funds could be raised for a smaller mosque that he could attend.

Eteraz draws a couple of lessons from the interview, including one about mosque leadership style:

It is clear from what Miftah described to me, that the Islamic Society of Tulsa does not elect its leaders; it merely appoints them. In those situations, dissent and disagreement, can only be dealt with in an authoritarian manner, namely, banning. The Islamic Society of Tulsa needs to consider its own democratic reform.

Eteraz is hopeful that CAIR will encourage such reform in American mosques. I wonder if knowing that one of the Tulsa mosque's leaders is a CAIR board member would cause his hope to dwindle.

I wonder, too, whether the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)'s ownership of the IST property contributes to its authoritiarian style of governance. See Dubya at JunkYardBlog notes that the Episcopal Church USA uses centralized ownership to enforce conformity with its liberal "orthodoxy" -- defy the hierarchy and lose your church building. (You can ask the good folks of Tulsa's Church of the Holy Spirit how that works. They're now meeting in a converted house on 41st east of Garnett.)

(The Presbyterian Church USA is doing the same thing, using centralized building ownership to prevent dissenting (Bible-believing) churches from leaving the denomination. In fact, one PCUSA presbytery is even allowing the sale of a church building to be used as mosques, evidently to make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of evangelicals.)

This entry is a work in progress, a place to summarize links and information for later analysis, by me or other bloggers.

The story of Jamal Miftah, the Muslim who was banned from the Islamic Center of Tulsa for writing an op-ed critical of al-Qaeda and those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam, has attracted the attention of Little Green Footballs, the premier blog on radical Islamism.

The comments on the LGF entry express shock and dismay that radical Islam appears to have a foothold in the American heartland. Although I know a few local Muslims, mainly co-workers at my old job, I don't know much about the Muslim community in Tulsa, so I've begun to do some digging.

In my searching, I came across the name of Mujeeb Cheema. Below is a summary of the references I've found so far. I'm not meaning to suggest anything suspicious about him, but his name crops up in a lot of places, and by following that name around the Internet, I'm learning about connections between Islamic organizations in America.

UPDATE: Here are some additional facts gleaned from the Tulsa Whirled's archives:

  • December 15, 2002: Cited as a national board member for National Conference for Community and Justice
  • February 2, 2003: Cited as a trustee of the Tulsa Community College Foundation.
  • September 27, 2003: Cited as a spokesman for IST in a story about the mosque's new imam.
  • October 4, 2003: Story about his hiring as executive director of NAIT. The story also says: "The titles to Tulsa's Al-Salam mosque and Peace Academy school properties are held by NAIT, [Cheema] said."

What is this NAIT that lists Cheema as executive director? The NAIT website says (emphasis added):

The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) is a waqf, the historical Islamic equivalent of an American trust or endowment, serving Muslims in the United States and their institutions. NAIT facilitates the realization of American Muslims' desire for a virtuous and happy life in a Shari'ah-compliant way.

NAIT is a not-for-profit entity that qualifies as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. NAIT was established in 1973 in Indiana by the Muslim Students Association of U.S. and Canada (MSA), the predecessor of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). NAIT supports and provides services to ISNA, MSA, their affiliates, and other Islamic centers and institutions. The President of ISNA is an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees of NAIT.

NAIT holds titles to mosques, Islamic centers, schools, and other real estate to safeguard and pool the assets of the American Muslim community, develops financial vehicles and products that are compatible with both the Shari'ah (Islamic law) and the American law, publishes and distributes credible Islamic literature, and facilitates and coordinates community projects.

Frank Gaffney, Jr., had this to say about NAIT and ISNA in an August 2005 column about Bush White House adviser Karen Hughes' plans to speak to an ISNA gathering:

[T]he Islamic Society of North America is a front for the promotion of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi political, doctrinal and theological infrastructure in the United States and Canada. Established by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students Association, ISNA has for years sought to marginalize leaders of the Muslim faith who do not support the Wahhabists’ strain of Islamofascism, and, through sponsorship of propaganda and mosques, is pursuing a strategic goal of eventually dominating Islam in America.

ISNA provides indoctrination materials to about 1,100 of an estimated 2,500 mosques on the North American continent. Through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – a Saudi government-backed organization created to fund Islamist enterprises in North America – it reportedly holds the mortgages of between 50 and 79 percent of those mosques. Through this device, ISNA exerts ideological as well as theological influence over what is preached and taught in these institutions and their schools.

In December 2003, the chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus, respectively, listed ISNA as one of 25 American Muslim organizations that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.”

This Chicago Tribune feature story recounts a battle over a mosque that was founded in the 1950s by Palestinian immigrants, but taken over by newcomers and deeded to NAIT in the 1980s, over the objections of long-time members.

Stephen Schwartz, an academic, a journalist, and a follower of Sufism, testified in 2003 before the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee about the spread of Wahhabi influence in the American Muslim community:

Wahhabi-Saudi policy has always been two-faced: that is, at the same time as the Wahhabis preach hostility and violence against non-Wahhabi Muslims, they maintain a policy of alliance with Western military powers — first Britain, then the U.S. and France — to assure their control over the Arabian Peninsula.

At the present time, Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslim community leaders estimate that 80 percent of American mosques are under Wahhabi control. This does not mean 80 percent of American Muslims support Wahhabism, although the main Wahhabi ideological agency in America, the so-called Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has claimed that some 70 percent of American Muslims want Wahhabi teaching in their mosques.1This is a claim we consider unfounded.

Rather, Wahhabi control over mosques means control of property, buildings, appointment of imams, training of imams, content of preaching — including faxing of Friday sermons from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — and of literature distributed in mosques and mosque bookstores, notices on bulletin boards, and organizational solicitation. Similar influence extends to prison and military chaplaincies, Islamic elementary and secondary schools (academies), college campus activity, endowment of academic chairs and programs in Middle East studies, and most notoriously, charities ostensibly helping Muslims abroad, many of which have been linked to or designated as sponsors of terrorism.

The main organizations that have carried out this campaign are the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which originated in the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), and CAIR. Support activities have been provided by the American Muslim Council (AMC), the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, its sister body the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and a number of related groups that I have called "the Wahhabi lobby." ISNA operates at least 324 mosques in the U.S. through the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). These groups operate as an interlocking directorate.

In a 2002 Q&A with National Review, Schwartz had this to say about Wahhabist influence over American mosques (emphasis added):

Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only country outside Saudi Arabia where the Islamic establishment is under Wahhabi control. Eighty percent of American mosques are Wahhabi-influenced, although this does not mean that 80 percent of the people who attend them are Wahhabis. Mosque attendance is different from church or synagogue membership in that prayer in the mosque does not imply acceptance of the particular dispensation in the mosque. However, Wahhabi agents have sought to impose their ideology on all attendees in mosques they control.

Ever wonder why more Muslims don't speak out publicly against terrorism and violence committed in the name of Islam? Ever wonder why you don't read more op-eds by Muslims like this?

Because of lack of knowledge of Islam, Muslim youth are misguided into believing by the so-called champions of the cause of Islam that the current spate of killings and barbarism, which has no equal in the recent civilized history, is jihad in the name of Islam. They are incited, in the name of Islam, to commit heinous crimes not pardonable by any religion and strictly forbidden in Islam....

Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in [Al-Qaeda's] hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs.

They are the reason for branding the peaceful religion of Islam as terrorism. The result, therefore, is in the form of Danish cartoons and remarks/reference by the Pope.

I appeal to the Muslim youth in particular and Muslims of the world in general to rise up and start jihad against the killers of humanity and help the civilized world to bring these culprits to justice and prove that Islam is not a religion of hatred and aggression.

I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam and have carried out more than 24 terrorist attacks on civilian installations throughout the world. This does not include the chilling number of deaths because of such activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is well over 250,000.

I appeal to al-Zawahri and his band of thugs to hand themselves over to justice and stop spreading evil and killing innocent humans around the world in the name of Islam. Their time is limited and Muslims of the world will soon rise against them to apprehend them and bring them to justice.

Jamal Miftah wrote those words in an October 29, 2006, Readers' Forum op-ed in the Tulsa Whirled. In "thanks" for his bold writing against Islamic terrorism, he has been expelled from the Islamic Center of Tulsa, the mosque which owns the old Stevenson Elementary School building north of 51st between Yale and Sheridan. He also says that he has been he subject of threats of violence. He has been told that he cannot come back to the mosque unless he takes back what he wrote. Oklahoma City's KWTV News 9 has the story.

In his op-ed, Miftah mentioned that he, his wife, and their four children came to the U. S. in 2003 from Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border. He lost a dear friend who chose to follow al-Qaeda and fight against the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. Please keep the Miftah family in your prayers for safety. The Muslim engineers that I've known and worked with in Tulsa are much more like Jamal Miftah than those who ejected him from the mosque. These Muslims love America, they love the American way of life, and they are apologetic for the terrorism done in Islam's name. To them, jihad is the inward struggle to subdue the passions, not conquering the land of the infidel.

What he says about American mosques collecting aid for terrorism may well be true. For years, Irish social clubs in America collected money which, whether the donors knew it or not, went to fund the operations of Irish nationalist terrorist groups. Certainly the opposite is true: many American mosques have received capital and operating funds from Arabic Muslim groups who hold to strict Wahhabi Islam.

(Via See Dubya, who pointed me to the story on Atlas Shrugs and Isaac Schrödinger, where you can read further comments.)

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