Thursday, March 11, 2004

Although most media attention has been focused on Martha Stewart, gay “marriage” and the national waistline, the jihad continues in America.

m The FBI and Coast Guard announced last Thursday that they have discovered nine members of the Merchant Marine who may have links to terrorist groups. This is the fruit of Operation Drydock, an anti-terror investigation that has lasted more than a year. These efforts, while laudable, only underscore the fact that terrorists have already begun to try to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of American seaports.

On the same day, three members of the “Virginia jihad network” were found guilty of conspiracy. Masoud Khan, Seifullah Chapman and Hammad Abdur-Raheem played paintball in 2000 and 2001 with a deadly serious purpose: They were training with the hope of joining the Taliban and waging jihad against the United States. Khan was also convicted of attempting to wage war against the United States.

m Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, formerly a high-profile Muslim student activist at the University of Idaho, was charged, also on Thursday, with ties to Hamas. He maintainshisinnocence. Fox News reported that he “was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism after federal prosecutors said he helped run Web sites that urge people to contribute money to Hamas.”

m In San Diego last Wednesday, Ilyas Ali, an American citizen, and Muhamed Abid Afridi, a Pakistani national, admitted to drug trafficking in order to raise money for weapons for the Taliban and al Qaeda. They were selling heroin and hashish to raise money for Stinger missiles.

m On the same day, five Muslims were convicted in Buffalo of trafficking in untaxed cigarettes in order to get money for jihad. Mohamed Abuhamra, Aref Ahmed, Ramzy Abdullah, Nagib Aziz and Azzeaz Saleh could get 20 years and $500,000 fines for using the smokes to try to raise money to help the six jihadists from a Lackawanna, N.Y., mosque — the notorious “Lackawanna Six” journey to Afghanistan to join up with al Qaeda.

m A member of the Kashmir jihad was arrested last week in Pennsylvania.Mohammad Aslam, a British citizen, was originally arrested for staying in the United States after the expiration of his visa. Through his fingerprints, however, he was identified as a member of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, wanted for the kidnapping and murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in England in 1984. Mhatre was seized and killed in an attempt to secure the release from prison of the group’s founder, Maqbool Bhat.

m Sgt. Hasan Akbar is the Muslim soldier who attacked his own commanding officers in Kuwait last year while crying out, “You guys are coming into our countries, and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children” — a clear indication that his attack grew out of his identity as a Muslim. After a long period of silence, the Army announced last Thursday that it is going to go ahead with a court martial. Sgt. Akbar could get the death penalty.

m The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) is building a new mosque that it intends to be one of the grandest in the country. Arabic-language brochures boast that the project has the backing of the radical Sheikh Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian now based in Qatar.

In English, the ISB claims that al-Qaradawi “has never played any role in the ISB.” However, the BostonHeraldreportsthat “records show al-Qaradawi’s name was listed on federal tax forms as recently as 2001 as a member of the society’s board of directors.” The ISB is not alone in embracing al-Qaradawi: establishment Islamic scholar John Esposito has praised him as a champion of a “reformist interpretation of Islam.”

Yet al-Qaradawi has justified suicide bombings, specifically praising such attacks against Israeli civilians. In this he works from tenets of Islamic law that forbid attacks against civilians unless they are aiding the war effort — and al-Qaradawi sees everyone in Israel in this category. Also, according to the Herald, al-Qaradawi exclaimed at a Muslim youth group convention in Toledo in 1995: “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through (the) sword, but through Da’awa [preaching].” The Herald adds that “in March 2003, al-Qaradawi issued a religious ruling, a fatwa, encouraging Muslim women, as well as men, to become suicide bombers in the name of Allah and jihad.”

With the biases of the major media abundantly established, it will be interesting to see how much attention such stories receive as the election season kicks into high gear.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of “Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West” and “Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith.”

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