- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Political correctness and freedom of speech and religion mean evil is not seen, heard or spoken. President Bush keeps saying, correctly, that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. But it's high time we realized that radical Islam not just the evildoers of the al Qaeda network is at war with the United States, and that its agents of influence in America proselytize their message with impunity.
Imams are saying one thing to the media, another more ambiguous message to the faithful, and a third language to the militant fundamentalists in their midst. American imams who have migrated from the Middle East in recent years have told this reporter that most of their colleagues believe, as they do, that Israel and Mossad were the evildoers on September 11. Either Zionist air traffic controllers guided the hijackers that crashed passenger aircraft into the WTC towers and the Pentagon, or the Arab hijackers were traitors who had been recruited and brainwashed by Mossad.
While America is the Great Satan in mosques throughout Pakistan, and a lesser but still a Satan in other Muslim countries, Islamic messengers in the U.S. are more circumspect about their true feelings. They denounce what happened September 11, but rather than blame Osama bin Laden, they have found a more convenient scapegoat in Israel and Mossad. Witness this dialogue with Mohammed Ali Elahi, the Iranian-born "Imam of the Islamic House of Wisdom" in Dearborn Heights, Mich., that took place in New York recently:
Imam Elahi: "It was Mossad and Israel that perpetrated those horrible crimes of September 11, wasn't it?"
Q: "That diabolical piece of disinformation was first peddled by Gen. Hameed Gul, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief who hates America and acts as 'strategic adviser' to his country's extremist religious parties. What evidence do you have to repeat it?"

A:
"How else do you explain that 4,000 Jews didn't show up for work at the twin Towers the morning of September 11?"
Q: "That was part of the same monstrous lie. Do you really believe that Mossad could call 4,000 American Jews at home and instruct them not to report for work next morning, and that this would not become the biggest story of the year?

A:
"The American press has a way of suppressing such news."
Q: "You think the American press can be muzzled like in Iran?"

A:
"You have the wrong idea about the Iranian press. It is now free to write what it wants."
Q: "I guess that's why I read about Iranian journalists being arrested from time to time for writing things the clergy disapproves of. By the way, how long have you been in America?"

A
: "Eleven years.
Q: "Naturalized?"

A:
"Yes, six years ago."
Imam Elahi has many coreligionists in America who think the way he does. They are blinded by their hatred of Israel. They blame America for the oppression of Palestinians, and become self-hating Americans. From there to develop feelings of admiration for Osama bin Laden is a small step some of them take, albeit sotto voce. Bin Laden is seen by militant Muslims as the avenger for all the perceived historical wrongs from the Christian crusades of the 11th century to the Sharon government's military campaign to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state.
America's mosques are not dens of anti-American inequity. But a number of them are and Washington's Muslim cabdrivers, in moments of candor, freely concede that radical clerics frequently get carried away with their denunciations of U.S. foreign policy. Prior to September 11, these tirades could also be heard, magnified by sidewalk bullhorns, outside the Washington mosque on Massachusetts Avenue after Friday prayers.
In Afghanistan, mosques are being used to hide military hardware and ammunition. In the Western world, mosques are used to shelter charitable organizations involved in less than charitable endeavors. Some of the U.S.-based Islamic organizations that are clean and above-board have ties to ostensibly respectable outfits abroad that, in turn, have links to terrorist fronts that are the ultimate recipients of money raised in America.
The Al Rashid Trust delivers food to Afghan refugees along with volunteers for holy war against the U.S. One clerk in the Al Rashid office in Peshawar bragged to U.S. News & World Report, "We have 800,000 signed up with us to fight the jihad against the Americans."
Any Muslim cleric who denounces bin Laden in Nigeria, the Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia is out of the mainstream these days. Even though bin Laden has violated every tenet of Islam, he is still seen as the embodiment of a good Muslim in many parts of the developing world. Even in France, at a soccer match between Algeria and France, French North African fans shouting "Vive bin Laden" interrupted the French national anthem. Later, when it became obvious Algeria would lose, fans descended onto the field and pelted two French Cabinet ministers, both women, with bottles.
The same bloody mindset occurred in Pakistan last weekend when jihadis gunned their way into a Catholic church that had been borrowed for a Protestant service and mowed down 16 worshippers. At the same time, several thousand Pakistani volunteer warriors, armed with automatic weapons, RPGs, axes and swords, vowing to fight a holy war against the U.S., wait on the Afghan border to join the Taliban.
Pakistani newspapers produce daily favorable coverage of the Taliban and fellow Muslims in Afghanistan, and blame the U.S. for unwarranted attacks, totally ignoring the reason why the U.S. has taken on Taliban in its search and destroy operation against al Qaeda. The danger now is that the U.S. is losing the war of words. Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic equivalent of CNN, has frequently acted as a mouthpiece for bin Laden. Its correspondent in Afghanistan sends daily reports of the collateral damage caused by U.S. bombs that then become the focus of Pentagon briefings.
The image of America defending itself against transnational terrorism, aided and abetted by the Taliban, has long since faded, replaced in Muslim media (and, for that matter, in media the world over) by a bumbling superpower pounding a poor, defenseless Muslim nation. Britain is America's only unconditional ally in the anti-terrorism struggle, but the British press is raking the Bush administration over the coals for a bungled war.
Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah says there is an agenda of "hidden hatred against Islam." Not so. But there is a not-so-hidden hatred of the U.S. by radical Islam, all funded to an alarming degree by Saudi Arabia, not because it hates the U.S., but because it has given carte blanche to its Wahhabi clergy that does indeed hate American values. Wahhabis have funded many mosques in the U.S. But the Saudi clergy does not tolerate a single Christian church in the kingdom. Western Catholics based in Riyadh sneak into the Italian Embassy at 11 a.m. on Sundays to attend Mass.
The hatemongers use American freedoms in order to better undermine them. An ounce of preventive awareness about today's symptoms is worth a pound of curative medicine down the road. Because the medicine would also undermine democratic freedoms.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.


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