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In 1991, a mere year after forming the American Muslim Council, Alamoudi attended the largest gathering of Islamic militants ever held in the United States, sponsored by the United Association for Studies and Research, widely considered to be the voice of Hamas in America. Among the conference’s distinguished guests were members of al-Jihad and the Islamic Committee for Palestine, an Islamic Jihad front, as well as a slew of other radical leaders, foreign and domestic.
Alamoudi called the deportation of U.S. based Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk for his involvement in several terror attacks in Israel, an “insult to the Muslim community.” “I know the man, he is a moderate man on many issues,” Alamoudi told the Washington Post. “If you see him, he is like a child. He is the most gracious person, soft-spoken. He is for dialogue.” Dialogue, perhaps, such as this gem from an interview with Marzouk in Beirut’s Al-Ahd in 1994: “First of all, martyrdom is the goal of every Muslim, and death represents the ideal wish of the Mujahad on the land of Palestine.” How gracious. How childlike. How kind indeed.
Alamoudi could be cruel himself. In a wiretapped conversation made public in the recent criminal complaint, he praises a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires. “The Jewish Community Center. It is a worthy operation,” Alamoudi tells an unidentified man, in Arabic. “I think that the attacks that are being executed by bin Laden and other Islamic groups are wrong, especially hitting the civilian targets. Many African Muslims have died and not a single American died. I prefer to hit a Zionist target in America or Europe.…I prefer honestly like what happened in Argentina.”
Alamoudi also gave an impassioned defense of the terrorists who plotted and carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people and left a crater five floors deep. “I believe the judge went out of his way to punish the defendants harshly and with a vengeance, and to a large extent, because they were Muslims.”
On October 28, 2000, Alamoudi boldly addressed a cheering crowd in Lafayette Park, near the White House: “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas.… Anybody support Hamas here? (Cheers) Hear that, Bill Clinton? We are all supporters of Hamas. I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezballah.…I want you to send a message. It’s an occupation, stupid….Hamas is fighting an occupation. It’s a legal fight.”
When these comments were reported in the Washington Post, political contributions were returned, and Alamoudi was forced to take a back seat in the AMC. By all accounts, however, he remained in control and kept a busy schedule. According to the SITE Institute, “In January 2001, Alamoudi attended and was photographed in Beirut at a terrorist summit, alongside representatives of the terrorist groups Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezballah, and al-Qaeda.”
Nevertheless, in the aftermath of September 11, Alamoudi, a man who voiced constant support for terrorists, was invited to a prayer session with other Muslims and President Bush. Even at this late date, he managed to hold himself up as a moderate practitioner of Islam.
In light of his current predicament, some of Alamoudi’s other endeavors are being looked at more closely. Among them, his founding of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council, one of only two organizations able to certify Muslim chaplains for service in the U.S. military. One of those chaplains, Army Capt. James Yee, now sits in a military jail on suspicion of treason. Military authorities found diagrams of the cells and facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with lists of the detainees and their interrogators on Yee.
THOSE WHO CHOSE TO PLAY THE GAME with Alamoudi are left desperately trying to put a good face on an increasingly bad situation. For example, how did the AMC end up labeled as the most mainstream Muslim group in America? Yes, the AMC issued a condemnation of the September 11 attacks. But, then, so did Yasser Arafat. If the crack research team at the FBI had looked at the AMC website in the aftermath of September 11, however, this is what it would have found under the heading, The Law Says You Don’t Have to Talk to the FBI: “The FBI is looking for information to use against you, your family and/or your community. The FBI has a history of harassing and harming minority and immigrant communities. Some people are spending a long time in jail because they or their friends talked to the FBI.…FBI agents are trained to get you to make incomplete or contradictory statements — which later can be used against you in court. It is better to say nothing.”
In October 2000 Hillary Clinton announced she was returning Alamoudi’s contributions to her campaign. Hillary returned the money because of her “serious disagreements” with Alamoudi’s views, but defended her long record of involvement with him as part of the Clinton administration’s attempt to “promote a framework for peace,” by opening “lines of communication to many different groups and many different individuals.” Hence, the truth in Alamoudi’s claim of the American Muslim Council: “We are the ones who went to the White House and defended what is called Hamas.”
Can we really believe Hillary’s professions of ignorance? As active as she was in the White House, could she really have forgotten Alamoudi protesting President Clinton’s decision to meet with the fatwa-burdened author, Salman Rushdie? Alamoudi whined on CNN’s Crossfire: “If somebody was talking about the Holocaust and he was saying how horrible it was, people understand that, but you don’t understand when seven million American Muslims are insulted.” This was in 1993, before he sent her money, before he drew up the Ramadan White House guest list.
GOP hero Grover Norquist has been similarly dismissive of the criticism. Norquist’s Islamic Institute, a free-market Muslim organization, was launched in part with $20,000 in checks from Alamoudi and the SAFA Trust. In a June 11, 2003 article in the Wall Street Journa, Norquist scoffed at his critics: “Since I started working with Muslims, a handful of bigots have been trying to smear the president, Rove and me for working with them.” Alamoudi’s arrest has not tempered that sentiment. “Grover had no working relationship with Alamoudi,” a Norquist spokesman told TAS. “He did not do any consulting work for him, as has been widely reported. The idea that Grover had a close personal relationship with Alamoudi is completely false. The whole thing is part of a calculated smear campaign by fringe publications and lazy writers who have been trying for several years to halt Grover from forming a center-right coalition with Muslim Americans.” But is that the whole story?
Insight magazine reporter Kenneth Timmerman, in his recent book Preachers of Hate, describes a meeting with Norquist, who was unhappy about his treatment in several Insight articles. Timmerman writes that Norquist accused him and the magazine of “bizarre anti-Muslim attacks.” Former Alamoudi associate and current president of the Islamic Institute Khaled Saffuri also tried to distance himself from Alamoudi, but Timmerman pointed out that in 1995, while Saffuri was on staff at AMC, the group had invited one Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak at a conference. That same year on Qatar state television, al-Qaradawi made the following plea for unity: “O God, destroy the aggressor, treacherous Jews. O God, destroy the aggressor Americans. O God, destroy the fanatic pagans. O God, destroy the tyrannical crusaders.”
Timmerman writes: “When I raised the AMC invitations to al-Qaradawi, Norquist flew into a rage. Any attempt to link him to al-Qaradawi or the AMC was ‘guilt by association.’ Saffuri had left the AMC ‘years ago,’ he added. But by Saffuri’s own account, he went to work for Norquist’s Islamic Institute almost immediately after he left the AMC.”
Although Alamoudi was caught red-handed, papers throughout the Muslim world are calling his arrest part of a U.S. government “witch hunt” against its Muslim population. Dr. Ahmed Yousef, editor-in-chief of the Middle East Affairs Journal, wrote in the Palestinian Chronicle that if Alamoudi is a target, “then we are all targets.”
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