Durbin flubs Muslim-discrimination hearings

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The number two Senate Democrat, Richard Durbin, has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to highlight claims of anti-Muslim discrimination, but his primary Muslim witness has publicly excused a U.S. imam for revealing an FBI investigation to a Muslim suspected-terrorist.

Durbin’s bungled choice for lead witness is another in a series of Democratic flubs that have paired top Democrats with anti-democratic, terror-excusing Islamists in the United States. According to a report released today by the non-profit Investigative Project on Terrorism, Durbin has already added to the flubs this year by visiting a mosque in Bridgeview, Ill., and posing for a photo with two Islamists who were named as unindicted conspirators in an Islamist project to smuggle funds to the Hamas Muslim terror group.

Hamas is an orthodox and militant Muslim terror group that controls the Gaza strip. Since it seized control in 2007, it has allowed numerous missile attacks on Israeli civilian targets and it has established an apartheid-like system of laws that cite Koranic texts to justify formal and informal discrimination and abuse against women, gays and Christians.

According to the IPT’s report, Durbin’s meeting with the Hamas-linked Muslims took place at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Ill. The mosque’s website shows a picture, dated March 1, of Durbin posing with nine suited men, and two women wearing dark-coveralls and tight white scarves. The men include the mosque’s director, Jamal Said, and the mosque’s imam, Kifah Mustapha, according to the IPT report.

Both men were declared to be unindicted conspirators in the 2008 Holy Land Fund trial, which resulted in guilty verdicts for five men who smuggled $12 million to Hamas. The fund’s two founders were both sentenced to 65 years in jail.

In the federal documents submitted to the court, Mustapha was included in the list of “individuals who were HLF employees, directors, officers and/or representatives.” In June 2010, the Illinois government denied Mustapha the title of police chaplain, even though he completed the four-day course.

In the court document, Jamal Said is named as an individual “who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.” The Palestine Committee was established by Islamists as a Hamas advocacy group prior to 1991, according to government sources cited in another IPT report.

A 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune reported that moderates lost control of the mosque to the Islamists following an internal power struggle.

Durbin and several other Democratic politicians, and their staff members, have gotten themselves into trouble by endorsing little-known Muslims from Islamist groups within the party’s diverse base. The base also includes groups advocating for gays, women and Jews.

For example, in 2007, Virginia’s Democratic governor Tim Kaine appointed Esam Omeish to an advisory panel on immigration. Kaine withdrew the nomination a few hours after he was told of Omeish’s Islamist beliefs by a caller during a radio-talk show.

Last September, President Obama endorsed the construction of a mosque and community-center on the site of a building damaged by the 9/11 Islamist terror attack. But the then-current imam of the center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, had already authored an June 2009 article for the Huffington Post calling on Obama to accept Islamic theocracy in Iran. In the article, he urged Obama to “respect…Vilayet-i-faqih, which means the rule of the jurisprudent.” This March, however, the president rejected this policy, and called on Iranian people to cast off “the rigid and unaccountable government; the refusal to let the Iranian people realize their full potential for fear of undermining the authority of the state.”

Other Democrats have been more careful. In a September 2003 hearing, for example, New York Sen. Charles Schumer declared that “we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.” At the same hearing, Durbin declared “from what I have read [CAIR] is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its association with groups that are suspect.”

A second flub by Durbin’s staff is the selection of the main witness for the Tuesday hearing. She is Farhana Khera, the Muslim director of a small legal firm — Muslim Advocates  — that works closely with Hamas-associated Islamist groups in the United States, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations. Durbin’s hearing, and Khera’s invite, were prompted by protests from Islamist and allied left-of-center groups against a March 10 hearing organized by New York Republican Rep. Peter King on the religious radicalization of Muslims in the United States.

Prior to King’s hearing, front-page articles in both the New York Times and the Washington Post excoriated King for his association with the Irish Republican Army in the 1990s. The main witnesses at King’s hearings were Muslims, and included Muslim modernist Zuhdi Jasser, who disavows jihad and supports the formal separation of mosque and state.

In the Tuesday hearing, Khera is expected to argue that Muslims have faced increasing levels of “discrimination” and hostility in the United States in the decade following the mass-murder of roughly 3,000 Americans by 19 Islamist terrorists. However, FBI data on crimes motivated by religious hatred show 107 incidents in 2009, down from 156 in 2006. Nationwide, in 2009, Jews were nine times as likely to be targeted for their religion than Muslims, up from five times as likely in 2006.

Khera’s claim to represent ordinary Muslims, however, is tainted by her cooperation with Islamist groups, and by support for Ahmed Afzali, an Afghan-born New York imam. A court ordered Afzali expelled last April after he confessed to warning a suspect terrorist, Najibullah Zazi, of an FBI investigation into his activities. Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, pled guilty in February 2010 to preparing a suicide-bomb attack on civilians in the New York subway.

Khera entangled herself in the terror case in June 2010, after the guilty verdicts, when she spoke at a Chicago convention of Muslims. At the event, she described the Afzali’s tip-off to the suspected suicide-bomber as “self-policing” by Muslim community, not as aid for a would-be murderer. “The imam thinking that he was doing his civic duty, went, spoke to Zazi and said – Hey, what are you doing?,” according to a transcript of Khera’s remarks provided by the IPT. “Police are you know asking questions about you, you better not be up to anything bad.” The imam, she said, thought he was “doing his duty, what he thought was his civic responsibility, and helping, as so many of our community members feel like, to help self-police the community.”

Afzali’s subsequent expulsion, added Khera, “is just one example of really frankly the risks and consequences of engaging with law enforcement without an attorney.” Khera’s opposition to easy cooperation with police forces is matched by other Islamist groups, which argue that federal, state and local governments should appoint them as the conduits through which resident Muslims should deal with the government and law-enforcement. In January, for example, CAIR’s California branch posted an image on its website urging Muslims to “Build A Wall of Resistance. Don’t Talk to the FBI.” CAIR was founded by Islamists with ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Gaza-based affiliate of the brotherhood.

Critics say Islamists’ campaign to limit cooperation with law-enforcement is a part of the groups’ effort to prevent the assimilation of immigrant and U.S.-born Muslims into secular American culture. This effort is also illustrated by pressure on Muslim girls to wear the hijab, which isolates them from non-Muslim men, the critics say.

Khera and her group have worked closely with CAIR on several advocacy campaigns, including a current project to roll-back restrictions on U.S. fund-raising for overseas groups. In May 2008, for example, Khera’s group also allied with CAIR and two other groups to denounce a Senate report on Islamic terror that was prepared by independent Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins. The report, according to Khera’s group, “falsely character[izes] Muslims in America as susceptible to ‘radicalization.’”

Since then, several Muslims living in American have cited Islamic justifications for their participation in numerous terror attacks, including the murder of 11 soldiers in Fort Hood, the attempted detonation of a bomb in downtown New York, and the murder of more than 150 Hindus and Jews in Mumbai, India. Islamist groups in the United States, such as CAIR and Khera’s group, have not organized demonstrations to protest the attacks. Instead, they have repeatedly characterized widespread criticism of the Koran’s promotion of jihad as “bigotry,” while arguing that the many attackers misquote and misunderstand the Koran’s numerous statements urging jihad against non-believers and Jews.

Khera did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.