- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

FBI Director Robert Mueller's speech to the American Muslim Council (AMC) last Friday was just the latest in a series of missteps that risk undermining public confidence in the bureau. Before Mr. Mueller spoke to the AMC, FBI spokesman Bill Carter said the director accepted the invitation to speak to the group's annual convention because it is "the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States." Unfortunately, many of the positions taken by the AMC are anything but mainstream.
Following the September 11 attacks, President Bush ordered that an organization known as the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) be shut down for collecting money "used to support the Hamas terror organization," which is responsible for suicide bombings and other attacks which have killed several hundred Israelis since 1994. The AMC joined a host of other Muslim groups in issuing a joint statement which denounced Mr. Bush's action against the HLF as "unjust." In a Capital Research Center study, John Berlau noted that, in the statement, "the groups gloss over evidence" that HLF always "made sure most of its money went to the wives and children of Hamas suicide bombers."
Also, AMC's longtime director, Abdurahman Alamoudi, has professed his support of Hamas and Hezbollah. According to the State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 report, Hezbollah is known or suspected of involvement in the April 1983 suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the October 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984, among other attacks.
Mr. Mueller could have made the centerpiece of his speech a public challenge to his hosts to repudiate terrorist groups. Instead, Mr. Mueller spent most of his speech pretending that the AMC is a civil-rights organization in the mold of the Anti-Defamation League or the NAACP. It wasn't until 25 paragraphs into his 29-paragraph speech that Mr. Mueller saw fit to point out that unnamed "persons associated with this organization" had made statements supporting terrorism. That was it. Mr. Mueller's speech devoted more time to apologizing for Atlanta-based FBI agents interviewing two Afghan women without an adult Afghan male present than to speaking forthrightly about the group's support for terror.
This is the latest instance in which Mr. Mueller has used poor judgment regarding the war on terrorism. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Mr. Mueller grovelled when demanded to denounce ethnic profiling. In her May 21 letter to Mr. Mueller criticizing the bureau's handling of the Zacarias Moussaoui investigation, FBI senior agent Coleen Rowley told the director of her concern "that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of the facts by you has occurred and is now occuring." While Mr. Mueller denies any intentional effort to mislead, he has subsequently admitted that (contrary to earlier comments defending the FBI's handling of the Moussaoui case) that Mrs. Rowley's criticisms of senior bureau officials' performance in the Moussaoui case were on the mark.
Mr. Mueller's missteps should cause Congress to exercise its oversight authority with some regularity until it is satisfied that Mr. Mueller has found his sea-legs.


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