Saturday, March 05, 2005

Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens: Wrong, Dangerous and A Political Loser

from FAIR

(Los Angeles, March 4, 2005) To the list of compelling reasons to oppose the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, add one more: It is a political loser. A new poll conducted by the Field Research Company, finds that 62 percent of California voters are opposed to granting illegal aliens these state-issued identity documents and that opposition cuts across party lines. Advocates for illegal aliens have made the driver’s license issue a political priority in California and other states, seeing it as a means of creating a de facto amnesty by granting illegal aliens the same identity documents that citizens and legal immigrants carry.

“There is nothing particularly startling about the findings of the Field Poll – the idea of granting official government identity documents to people who have no right even to be in the country seems absurd to most Americans,” observed Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “The results are eye-opening only in so far as they illustrate how wildly out of step the California legislature is with the vast majority to state residents. The findings also reinforce the soundness of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decision to veto a bill last year that would have granted licenses to illegal aliens, and should encourage him to veto another such bill if one is sent to him this year.”

In addition to the vast majority of voters in California (and presumably other states), the blue ribbon commission that investigated the 9/11 disaster has also concluded that granting official identity documents to illegal aliens represents a serious threat to the homeland security of the United States. The commission noted that obtaining state-issued driver’s licenses was essential to the plans of the 19 terrorists who murdered some 3,000 people. Moreover, legislation that was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in February, and is now pending before the Senate, would bar the use of driver’s licenses for federal identification purposes if that state issues them to illegal aliens.

“We have heard a steady drum beat from the advocates for illegal aliens that opposing benefits and privileges for illegal residents is politically risky,” Stein said. “This poll, along with recent political history, proves that the precisely the opposite is true. The last governor of California who succumbed to this sort of political pressure was soundly defeated in a historic recall election just weeks after affixing his signature to such legislation. More recently, voters in Arizona made it overwhelmingly clear that they are opposed to benefits of any kind being made available to illegal aliens when they approved Proposition 200 over the objections of the leadership of both political parties.”

FAIR strongly urges the U.S. Senate to pass the REAL ID Act, already approved by the House, that would establish national standards for driver’s license issuance. President Bush has already stated that he will sign the bill. “The Senate should quickly adopt this legislation because it is vital to homeland security. If that’s not enough, the Field Poll indicates that it is also good politics,” concluded Stein.

Friday, March 04, 2005

CIS: $68 Billion Taken From Americans By Illegal Immigrants

This study employs a new approach to examine the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy. Unlike earlier studies, we do not treat the movement of immigrant labor into this country in isolation.
Older studies assumed that abundant resources and demand for labor was the primary reason for immigration, assumptions more appropriate to the 19th century. We start by assuming that the technological superiority of the modern American economy and resulting high standard of living is the primary factor motivating immigration. The study also takes into account the new global economy, including the movement of capital as well as trade. Our findings show that immigration creates a net loss for natives of nearly $70 billion annually.

Among the report’s findings:

In 2002, the net loss to U.S. natives from immigration was $68 billion.

This $68 billion annual loss represents a $14 billion increase just since 1998. As the size of the immigrant population has continued to increase, so has the loss.

The decline in wages is relative to the price of goods and services, so the study takes into account any change in consumer prices brought about by immigration.

The negative effect comes from increases in the supply of labor and not the legal status of immigrants.

While natives lose from immigration, the findings show that immigrants themselves benefit substantially by coming to America.

Those who remain behind in their home countries also benefit from the migration of their countrymen.

The model used in this study can be summarized as follows: High U.S. productivity motivates the entry of foreign workers and capital. As a consequence, the movement of foreign labor and capital into the United States expands U.S. exports and reduces exports by foreign countries who now have fewer workers and less capital. This depresses the prices of U.S. exports while raising the price of its imports, which is bad for U.S. natives. While the addition of immigrant workers makes the overall U.S. economy larger, natives in the United States are worse off because immigrants take not just the increase in income, but other income as well. This is because American workers are now competing with foreign workers who, because they have entered the United States, now have access to superior American technology, which is the primary source of American workers’ competitive advantage in the international economy. In other words, American workers are better off competing with foreigners if the foreign workers stay in their own countries and don’t have access to American technology. By allowing the foreign workers into the United States, Americans face competition with foreigners equipped with American technology.

The Economic Costs of Immigration
America is often described as a nation of immigrants. And so it is. One reason for immigration has been the promise of liberty. However, even from the start, a second very powerful reason has been the opportunity America provides for prosperity. Waves of immigrants have come, particularly from Europe, Asia, and the Americas (especially Mexico) to enjoy the high wages available here and escape the relative penury of their native lands. Through the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, a prime advantage of America that allowed it to deliver these high wages was its great abundance of land and natural resources. Increasingly, though, in the last half of the 20th century, the principal advantage of America has not been its resources, but rather its leadership of the world in technology or productivity.

Economists have long been interested in the consequences of immigration. A large and highly varied theoretical literature has developed that considers potential sources of gains and losses for a country experiencing immigration. Surprisingly, these theoretical models almost never have a word to say about the role of technological advantage as a motive for migration—even though this is surely the most important reason for the wage advantage in America that is the proximate reason for most migration. The empirical literature on immigration has considered a wide variety of questions regarding the impact of immigration on America. In recent years, an important strand of this has considered the overall impact of this immigration on the American economy.1 Here, again, the analysis has treated immigration as if it were motivated principally by an abundance of resources, as would have been appropriate in the 17th, 18th, 19th, or even early 20th centuries, but that is not appropriate to 21st century America.

The choice of an intellectual framework within which to examine the consequences of immigration is not a purely academic squabble. By choosing the traditional framework, where immigration is motivated by relative labor scarcity, one has also pre-determined in qualitative terms the outcome of any empirical study. Such studies necessarily conclude that the principal national consequence of immigration is the redistribution of income between natives similar to the immigrants and other factors of production. Likewise, as a matter of theory, the traditional framework concludes that the economic consequences for the receiving country as a whole are positive, though negligible. Empirical work in this conventional tradition cannot alter these conclusions, only quantify them.

In this essay, we summarize the conclusions of a paper that provides a new approach to studying the economic consequences of immigration.2 The starting point for the analysis is that immigration to America is ultimately motivated by American technological superiority. Once we accept this as a starting point, though, it is no longer appropriate to study the movement of labor in isolation. High American productivity does provide a motive for the immigration of labor. But it also provides an incentive for the inflow of productive capital. That is, high productivity yields high returns for all factors of production, which suggests that these inflows should be studied jointly. This is precisely what our study does.

The theoretical model that we work with predicts that high productivity in America will lead to large inflows of both capital and labor. Indeed, this is exactly the pattern we have seen in recent decades. We calculate that the foreign born in 2002 are 14.3 percent of the U.S. labor force and that inflows of foreign capital account for (a surprisingly similar) 16.5 percent of the domestic capital stock.3 Taken together, the inflows of capital and labor have expanded the size of the U.S. economy by nearly one-sixth. However, theory teaches us that this may not be a good thing. As a consequence, the United States needs to find foreign markets for its expanded production and to buy scarcer foreign products at higher prices.

Indeed, our study finds that these costs gave rise to a net loss of $136 billion for American natives in 2002, or about 1.3 percent of U.S. GDP. These are big numbers. They are equivalent in magnitude to standard measures of the loss from all U.S. trade barriers and three to four times larger than recent calculations of the cost of the U.S. business cycle.

It is important to place these numbers in context. Our framework, like the conventional approach, implies that such flows of productive factors increase world economic efficiency. The divergence between the conventional results and ours is that the conventional approach, based on relative factor abundance, concludes that migration is like trade in the sense that there are aggregate benefits for natives of both countries (sending and receiving). In our approach, there are aggregate income gains for the world as a whole. However, more than all of these gains accrue to natives of the sending countries. Receiving country natives (here the United States) experience losses.

There is, no doubt, more research that needs to be done in this area. Immigrants may bring U.S. natives direct and indirect economic benefits in ways not captured by our model. The challenge for those who believe this is so is to show that one can actually identify these effects and that the magnitude of these benefits is sizable. In addition, it is important to recognize that showing that there are economic costs of immigration for U.S. natives need not imply that immigration is bad. The benefits to the immigrants themselves, which likely are a multiple of the costs to U.S. natives, may be sufficient justification. There may be non-economic benefits to U.S. natives. Our aim here is not to pronounce a judgment on immigration per se, but to consider and quantify a new approach to measuring the economic costs and benefits of immigration.

In the remainder of this essay, we will sketch out the main ideas underlying the conventional approach and our own approach to analyzing the impact of immigration. We will follow this by sketching our methods for applying our approach to the data.

The Conventional Approach to Immigration. The essential insights underlying the conventional measurement of the economic impact of immigration can be outlined simply. Suppose that the United States produces its output with land and labor. For a fixed amount of land, total income in the United States depends on the amount of labor employed. Figure 1 illustrates this with a declining marginal product of labor curve with the height of the curve showing how much extra income is generated as each additional worker is added to a fixed amount of land. In this figure, the wage before immigration flows is determined by the intersection of the fixed U.S. native labor supply with the marginal product of labor curve (at the level w0).

The consequences of immigration are easily illustrated. Immigrants shift the domestic supply of labor to the right by the amount of immigration. The new equilibrium is determined as before, but with respect to the new (larger) total labor supply. The immigration has several consequences. With land fixed and a larger total labor supply, the marginal product of labor—and so the wage—falls to w1. The immigration causes the total income in the United States to rise by the area under the marginal product curve over the interval of immigration (the sum of areas D and E). Of this, only part (area E) is paid as wages to the immigrants themselves. The remainder (area D) accrues as an “immigration surplus” for U.S. natives.

Several points in the conventional approach need emphasis. The first is that the existence of an “immigration surplus” arises purely from theory, even before one has looked at the data. This emphasizes the importance of thinking carefully about the appropriateness of the underlying analytic framework. The second point is that, even subject to this caveat, the immigration surplus is economically small. This is particularly true when considered relative to the redistribution that immigration occasions from labor to other factors of production in the economy receiving immigration (area B). Finally (although we have not spelled out the details here), when the immigration arises due to differences in relative labor availability, the natives of both sending and receiving countries benefit in terms of aggregate income.

A New Approach to Immigration and Factor Flows. The starting point for our approach is to recognize that while wage gains are the proximate reason for immigration, the ultimate source for the high wages is the technological superiority of the United States. This suggests the value of using a Ricardian approach to studying immigration, since this traditional trade model features precisely the technological differences of interest. While our empirical applications will consider data based on capital flows, and immigration of both skilled and unskilled labor, it is easiest to grasp the basic idea by working with a model with a single factor of production that we can for now call “labor.”

We can develop a very simple statement of this in the case of the standard Ricardian textbook trade model. Consider a world of two countries, the United States and Foreign. Assume that there are two goods that can be produced, aircraft and textiles. For definiteness, assume that the United States has an absolute productivity advantage in both goods, although this advantage is relatively stronger in aircraft. The higher U.S. productivity in both goods will give it a higher wage even in autarky, before trade.

If the countries now open to free trade, the standard Ricardian model tells us that specialization will be according to comparative advantage, that is according to relative productivities. The United States will tend to specialize in and export aircraft while Foreign will tend to specialize in and export textiles. As is standard in this type of model, with sufficient specialization both Foreign and the United States enjoy gains from trade.

We can now move on to consider the consequences of immigration. Even with free trade, the United States continues to enjoy a higher real wage than Foreign, which derives from the superior U.S. technology. If we took this to an extreme and removed all barriers to migration, all Foreign workers would move to the United States, lured by the higher wage available there; Foreign would essentially cease to exist. However, with all labor now in the United States, the prices of goods would return to their level in autarky, prior to the opening of trade. That is, perfectly free migration entirely eliminates the gains from trade that U.S. natives had enjoyed. World income rose with the migration, but the natives of Foreign in this case received more than all of this rise, since the income of U.S. natives declined.

This has been a special case based on perfectly free migration. However, the story doesn’t differ in its essentials when only some of the Foreign natives can migrate. This can be looked at in two different ways. The entry of Foreign workers into the United States expands output of U.S. exports and contracts that of Foreign. This depresses the prices of U.S. exports while raising the price of its imports. This is bad for U.S. natives. Alternatively, one can think of part of the income that U.S. natives enjoy as being based on their monopoly of access to the superior technology. Immigration erodes this monopoly, leading to gains for immigrants and losses for U.S. natives.

In short, this model shows that when migration is driven by technological differences we need to revise—indeed reverse—our prior conclusions. In the conventional framework, immigration gives rise to small gains for U.S. natives. In the more realistic Ricardian framework, immigration gives rise to large losses for U.S. natives. The remainder of this essay will seek to establish the magnitude of those losses.

Quantifying Losses from Immigration
In this section, we have three tasks. The first is to discuss the reasonableness of our use of the Ricardian (technology difference) model for studying immigration. The second is to establish a baseline empirical estimate of the economic costs of immigration. Finally, we need to consider a variety of extensions or objections that might be raised regarding the analysis.

Reasonableness of the Analytic Framework. The framework for our analysis is the Ricardian model, a standard model for analysis of trade, yet one that is rarely applied to the question of immigration (and never previously in an empirical study). There are two features of the simplest Ricardian model that are distinctive, and so verifying that these features are reasonable approximations to reality will likewise suggest this is a reasonable framework for studying the consequences of immigration. The first distinctive feature is that in the complete model trade (and migration) is based on cross-country technological differences. The second distinctive feature is that the standard presentation of the model is based on the existence of a single productive factor.

That the United States is one of the highest productivity countries in the world is indisputable. This is confirmed directly in studies by Islam (1995, 2001) and Hall and Jones (1996). U.S. total factor productivity (TFP) is frequently two, five, even 20 times that of many developing countries that are important sources of U.S. immigration. And there is no question that this high TFP also translates into high wages for workers in the United States—hence as a key motive for immigration. This point has been addressed more directly by Hendricks (2002). He notes that if the cross-country wage differences were a result of quality differences then, even after immigration, there should be large wage gaps between immigrants and natives of a magnitude not observed. He concludes that productivity (TFP) differences are very important for the wage gains enjoyed by immigrants to the United States. In short, the data strongly confirm the Ricardian model’s assumption that productivity differences are an important reason for immigration.

The high TFP of the United States should make location here attractive for all mobile factors of production. Labor should want to come for the high wages. Capital should seek to enter for the high returns. Our simple model above presumes that there is only a single productive factor (we loosely termed “labor”) rather than the multiple factors of the real world. This need not be an unreasonable simplification, as a first pass at analysis, if the factors entered the United States in similar proportions (hence as if a composite factor). As it turns out, this is very close to the reality. In 2002, our calculations show that 14.3 percent of the U.S. labor force and 16.5 percent of the U.S. capital stock were due to immigration and net capital inflows respectively.4 These are surprisingly close and confirm again the reasonableness of our employment of the Ricardian model for analyzing immigration.

Magnitude of the Losses. A first calculation of the economic costs of the inflow of factors (immigration and capital flows taken together) for U.S. natives is very simple in this framework. We need to calculate how this changes the relative supplies of the United States (expanding) and the rest of the world (contracting) goods in the world and then to see how these changes in relative supplies translate into deterioration in the U.S. terms of trade. In this first approach, the calculation of the impact on outputs is very simple given that both labor and capital in the United States expanded by around 15 percent. For the impact on the terms of trade, we rely on a study by Acemoglu and Ventura (2002), which studies precisely this question of how a rise in output (for whatever reason) translates into deterioration in terms of trade. Our calculations show these costs of factor inflows were $136 billion in 2002, or approximately 1.3 percent of GDP. This is very large in absolute terms and huge compared to the previous calculations of what were thought to be gains from immigration.

We also consider the robustness of this calculation. Although we do not have space to discuss the detailed methodology here, in order to obtain the estimates discussed above, we disaggregate labor into skill types and allow for the possibility that actual inflows may expand import competing sectors, and as a consequence improve U.S. terms of trade. However, our calculations show that the skill structure of immigrants tends to worsen the terms of trade even more than one might expect given the aggregate inflow. We conclude that our analysis is robust to such questions. Secondly, our analysis is driven by both the inflows of capital and labor. We therefore repeat our analysis assuming that U.S. investment is unaffected by foreign capital flows. This produces a loss to natives from immigration alone of $68 billion or 0.6 percent of GDP.

Extensions, Objections. It is possible and useful to raise additional questions about the analysis. On the analytic side one could ask, for example, whether it matters that many immigrants are employed in non-traded sectors. The answer is “no.” We have understood for a long while that high productivity in traded goods can give rise to price and wage differences in non-traded sectors (the so-called Balassa-Samuelson effect). It is straightforward to write down models in which the essential features of our approach are preserved and in which substantial employment of immigrants in non-traded sectors arises. Similar adjustments could be made that would allow for differences in factor quality between natives and immigrants, yet which would preserve the substantive conclusions of the study.

The conventional approach to studying the economic consequences of immigration suggests that immigration is like trade—there are benefits for natives of both countries. We have amended this framework to take account of the idea that in the modern world, the wage differences that are the proximate cause of immigration are ultimately the consequence of cross-country productivity differentials. In this new, more realistic framework, the conclusions of the analysis are quite different. Just as in the conventional analysis, cross-country flows of factors raise world income. However, not everyone shares in this rise in world income. Indeed, natives of the country receiving the factor inflows lose in real terms. We have calculated the cost of this to U.S. natives in 2002 as $136 billion, or 1.3 percent of U.S. GDP.

There may be economic consequences of factor inflows to the United States beyond those considered in this study. The challenge to economists is to quantify these other influences and to see whether they may offset the direct costs we have calculated. Further research is clearly desirable. At the same time, it is important to be clear that even a conclusion that there are economic costs to U.S. natives need not imply that immigration is bad. That should be reckoned on a wider range of questions, including the large benefits to the immigrants themselves, other measurable economic benefits that may arise from their presence, and any non-economic benefits that come from a society enriched by immigrants.


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1. See, for example, the seminal study of Borjas (1995).

2. Davis and Weinstein (2002).

3. We wish to thank Steve Camarota for providing us with the immigrant share data.

4. See Davis and Weinstein (2002) for details on the calculations.


Donald R. Davis and David E. Weinstein are both professors of economics at Columbia University and Research Associates at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Both authors are recognized as among the nation’s leading experts in international economics. This paper updates a June 2002 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper entitled “Technological Superiority and the Losses from Migration.” NBER is one of the nation’s leading economic research institutions. For those wishing a much more detailed and technical explanation than the one presented here please see the NBER paper at:

Top Wanted Kuwaiti Islamist: Islam is Only Consummated through Jihad;

Special Dispatch - Kuwait/Jihad & Terrorism Studies
February 17, 2005
No. 865

We Don't Have Any Ties to Al-Qa'ida; Al-'Anzi Was Executed upon American Orders

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit

The London-based organization "Islamic Media Watch" recently conducted an interview with Khaled Al-Dosari, the top wanted Kuwaiti Islamist who is charged with attempting to overthrow the government and of plotting car bomb attacks against American military convoys in Kuwait.

In the interview, Al-Dosari, who calls himself "a human rights activist and spokesman for the Association of Victims of Torture and Administrative Detention," claimed that the Kuwaiti authorities are after him because of his having revealed human rights violations in Kuwait. He claimed that he doesn't have any ties to Al-Qa'ida and that the "Al-Jazira Lions" organization - which, according to Kuwaiti authorities, is behind the latest attacks in Kuwait - is an invention of the Kuwaiti security apparatus. He said that 'Amer Al-'Anzi, who was considered to be the commander of the organization and who died recently in a Kuwaiti prison, was murdered by the Kuwaiti authorities in accordance with American orders. Al-Dosari vowed to avenge him.

The following are excerpts from the interview:(1)

The Kuwaiti Authorities Killed 'Amer Al-'Anzi on America's Orders; We Will Avenge His Blood

Question: "Can you shed some light on what really happened to 'Amer Al-'Anzi and who is responsible? What were your relations with 'Amer Al-'Anzi?"

Al-Dosari: "... I became acquainted with him after he was arrested by the state security apparatus in 2003. He was subjected to torture without being charged of anything, except [for the fact] that they were looking for a suspect. After his release I visited him at his house, and he told me that the state security apparatus committed gross violations [of his rights]. I agreed with him that it was necessary to act to bring an end to these violations by bringing complaints and voices of those who were abused before senior officials. He thought that the senior officials were completely unaware of what goes on in the dungeons of state security prisons. We began to make contact with senior officials in the country and we spoke, through intermediaries, about it...

"After some time and effort, we became convinced that human rights violations in Kuwait occur with the government's knowledge and blessing. I mean by this [the knowledge and blessing Kuwaiti Prime Minister] Sabah Al-Ahmad, since he is responsible for these violations and since he is full of contempt for a large sector of the people - the tribes. Likewise, he is known as someone who hates any manifestation of Islam and religion and anyone who is devout in his faith...

Question: "What were your relations with 'Amer Al-'Anzi?"

Al-Dosari: "'Amer's blood and the blood of his brothers isn't water, and we will enter the cycle of vengeance. [Director of the state security apparatus] 'Adhbi Al-Sabah deceived and betrayed 'Amer. He told him: 'Let the youth turn themselves in, and they will go straight to the prosecution.' The same thing occurred when they broke in to the place and arrested him there. But he ['Adhbi Al-Sabah] eliminated the 'Bidun' [a group that is denied Kuwaiti citizenship]2 and eliminated the Saudis since he thought that they were unprotected waifs and didn't have anyone to avenge their blood..."

Question: "What was Al-'Anzi up to?"

Al-Dosari: "'Amer and his friends intended to go to Iraq, but the authorities killed them on America's orders."

The Accusations Against Me are False; Their Aim is to Prevent Me from Defending Human Rights in Kuwait

Question: "What do you have to say about the accusations against you?"

Al-Dosari: "There are many accusations, whose aim is to stifle voices [of dissent]. This is not going to happen. I and my brothers ... will continue to reveal their wickedness until they return to the path of righteousness, change their policies, and [stop] their gross violations of Kuwaiti citizens' basic human rights."

Question: "The authorities describe you as the leader [of a terrorist group]. Is this true?"

Al-Dosari: "This is a lie and a false accusation. This is an attempt to accuse me of responsibility for what is going on in order to prevent me from defending those who were tortured and from opposing the authorities' human rights violations against my countrymen."

Question: "What is it that you do that bothers the authorities?"

Al-Dosari: "I expose their disgrace through the human rights activists of the 'Association of Victims of Torture and Administrative Detention' in Kuwait. In addition, their arbitrary actions against the Muslim youth are exposed through the media. I turned [to the media] only after doors were closed to us..."

We Don't Have Any Ties to Al-Qa'ida; The Intention Was Not to Commit Attacks in Kuwait but Rather to Wage Jihad in Iraq

Question: "The authorities claim that you [and your associates] are an Al-Jazeera Lions [Usud Al-Jazeera] cell. Why this name?"

Al-Dosari: "These are false claims. There is no such thing as the 'Al-Jazeera Lions.' This name is the invention of the state security apparatus. These youth [who were under arrest together with Al-'Anzi] decided to go out to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah in Iraq. Their intentions became known to the authorities, which wanted to arrest them. At present the authorities are killing them off since if they would be brought to trial no evidence would be found against them. The stories about weapons that were in their possession are an exaggeration and an excuse to arrest them and kill them off. The claim that they attempted to carry out operations against American interests with the weapons in their possession is a lie. The regime knows this quite well. The weapons in their possession were only personal weapons. They equipped themselves with these weapons for self-defense, after the investigations [division] began to hunt them down and tried to kill them...

"If these youth had wanted to operate inside Kuwait, they would have done so a long time ago, but they didn't believe that there was anything to be gained from operations within Kuwait, since our country has a special demographic and geographic make-up that prevented them from considering it. In addition, there is a conspiracy against the future of Islam in Kuwait and [even] any simple operation was liable to lead to anarchy. But these youth had absolutely no intention to do this since they know that the regime is fragile and liable to collapse..."

Question: "Are there any ties between you and the Al-Qa'ida organization?"

Al-Dosari: "There are no ties between us other than that we have the same blood and religion."

I Will Not Turn Myself in; Islam is Only Consummated through Jihad

Question: "What is the real security situation in Kuwait? Is there a real danger threatening the country?"

Al-Dosari: "There is no doubt that change is coming to the region and that the characteristics [of the region] are going to change. What is going on in Kuwait is part of this stage [of change]. There are big problems and there are expressions of discrimination against and harassment of its people. In addition, there is an occupier [in Kuwait] which crossed the oceans and roves our country armed with various kinds of ultra-modern weapons. According to the Kuwaiti constitution, the occupier has the same [level of immunity] as that of the Amir, so that an American soldier can do whatever he likes in the country, whereas you don't have the right to oppose this. The country has turned into an American state, without sovereignty..."

Question: "Would you turn yourself in to the authorities? Has anyone requested you to turn yourself in?"

Al-Dosari: "I love death more than [prison]... To whom should I turn myself in? To the oppressor so that he can oppress and torture me? I should turn myself in knowing that my fate would be like the fate of Sheikh 'Amer [Al-'Anzi]? If I knew that there was justice and respect for human rights, I would go of my own accord, but I am convinced that they want to kill me..."

Question: "What is your message to your people, your brethren, your friends, and the people at large?"

Al-Dosari: "I tell them that I stand firm in my principles. Their [the authorities'] threats to kill me will not turn me away from my religion. I don't mind dying a Muslim, even if I don't know where I am going [to Paradise or Hell]. Religion is only consummated in the Muslims' souls and among the people through Jihad for the sake of Allah, in all its forms. Religion can subjugate the evil of those who corrupt the land only through force, which will scare them, and only through Jihad, which will break their power. Without Jihad there would be perversion in the land and the mosques would be ruined. The struggle between truth and falsehood is a valid sunna [way of life]. The party of falsehood is always larger than the party of truth. They will be defeated, and their evil will be stopped only through Jihad. Many people only listen to the truth when the use of force pushes them to do so."

(1) Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 14, 2005.
(2) For the "bidun," see: ;

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

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When Muslims Convert

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

Commentary Magazine 2005

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior analyst at Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project, a terrorism research center in Washington, D.C.

In the bustling religious marketplace of modern America, conversions out of one faith and into another are not exactly news. They happen every day, across the full spectrum of belief. But some conversions resonate more than others, especially at a time when the U.S. finds itself at war with terrorists who draw their inspiration from one of the world’s great religions.

Consider the case of Jean-Michelle Ajon, the subject of a 2002 article in the women’s fashion magazine Marie Claire. Raised a Catholic in New York City, Ajon had been thinking about converting to Islam during the summer before 9/11. After the attacks, a remark that she overheard while working in Manhattan—“We should bomb everyone, the whole Arab world”—strengthened her resolve, and she soon made her shahadah (declaration of faith), thus entering the fold of Islam. Her new faith, Ajon explained to Marie Claire, had improved her life. “I used to be very aggressive,” she said. “Now, I am more patient—and spiritually fulfilled.”

Ajon’s story—no doubt seen by her editors as an inspiring antidote to widespread anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States—has been multiplied by many other, similar stories over the past several years. But far less attention has been paid to voyages in the opposite direction, that is, outward from Islam. In fact, thousands of Muslims in the West embrace Christianity each year, and the courage they must muster to do so is of an entirely different order from the bravado of someone protesting against supposedly pervasive social prejudice. These converts stand accused, rather, of apostasy, a transgression against Islam whose consequences, even in the sheltering confines of the West, are always serious—and sometimes deadly.

In the Islamic world, there is a broad consensus, both popular and scholarly, that apostates deserve to be killed. A rich theological and intellectual tradition, stretching as far back as Muhammad and his companions, supports this position. Though official proceedings against those who reject Islam are fairly rare—in part, no doubt, because most keep their conversion a closely held secret—apostasy is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Comoros, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.1 It is also illegal in Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar.

The greatest threat to apostates in the Muslim world derives not from the state, however, but from private individuals who take punishment into their own hands. In Bangladesh, for example, a native-born Muslim-turned-Christian evangelist was stabbed to death in the spring of 2003 while returning home from a film version of the Gospel of Luke. As another Bangladeshi apostate told the U.S. Newswire, “If a Muslim converts to Christianity, now he cannot live in this country. It is not safe. The fundamentalism is increasing more and more.”

Because of this ideological environment, every apostate in the Muslim world must live in constant fear of death. And unfortunately, as harsh recent experience has taught us, Islamist ideology is hardly confined to the Muslim world alone. Advocates of jihad, to say nothing of actual terrorists, can be found in every corner of the West. More disturbing, because of what it says about our own ideological self-defenses, is the respectability that has been granted to spokesmen for Islamic fundamentalism who have learned to promote their agenda in our own idiom, even as they argue that mere conversion out of Islam should be considered a crime.

A prime example in this connection is Syed Mumtaz Ali, the president of the Canadian Society of Muslims. The Indian-born Mumtaz Ali was the first South Asian lawyer in Ontario when he set up practice more than 40 years ago, and has been the intellectual force behind the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice, a group dedicated to applying shari’a (Islamic law) to certain civil disputes in the province. Ontario’s Arbitration Act, passed in 1991, paved the way for this campaign—and for Mumtaz Ali’s emergence as a respected public figure—by granting religious authorities the power to arbitrate in family and property matters so long as the parties involved gave their consent (and with the proviso that the decisions can be appealed to Canadian courts).

Instituting even so restricted a version of shari’a has been controversial in Canada, especially among feminists rightly worried about its effects on Muslim women. But for Mumtaz Ali, this first, modest concession to the claims of Islam has been just the beginning. As he declared in defending the shari’a tribunal, “freedom of religion as guaranteed under Canada’s constitution means not only freedom to practice and propagate religion but also to be able to be governed by one’s religious laws in all aspects of one’s life—spiritual as well as temporal.”

What Mumtaz Ali meant by this portentous remark is made clear in an astonishing essay under his name that can be found on the website of the Canadian Society of Muslims.2 Not only does he affirm there the traditional proposition that apostates must “choose between Islam and the sword,” but he argues that, if Canada is to be true to its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it must allow the country’s Muslim community to punish those of its members who renounce or traduce their faith.

[W]hat such a large segment of the Canadian minority believes as a precept of their faith/religion ought to be fully recognized if the Charter’s provision respecting freedom of religion are [sic] to have any real meaning. . . . Failing [to incorporate Islamic law concerning apostasy and blasphemy into the laws of Canada] will be a flagrant breach of equality rights. . . . Failing to interpret the guaranteed rights and freedoms of Muslims in accordance with the true spirit of multiculturalism results in the effective denial of this fundamental philosophy of the Canadian constitution. This is a tragic departure from that cherished “tolerance” (the real tolerance) which is the distinguishing quality of a cultured people.

Mumtaz Ali allows that recognizing Islamic law in this context “does not necessarily entail any obligation to enforce the Islamic punishment for blasphemy/apostasy within the Canadian jurisdiction” (emphasis added). Apostates, that is, will not have to be stoned or beheaded. But plainly some punishment by the community itself is in order, and Canada, as Mumtaz Ali would have it, has no right to stand in the way.

A still more original apologist for the harsh treatment of apostates who reside in the West is Ali Khan, a law professor at Washburn University in Kansas. In a recent issue of the Cumberland Law Review, Khan suggested that Islam can be seen as a form of intellectual property, and Muslims as “trustees” who have vowed to protect their faith’s “knowledge-based assets.”

These assertions, on their face, seem innocuous enough, if a bit absurd. But Khan’s argument quickly takes an ominous turn. If Islam is understood as intellectual property, he contends, the faith should enjoy what he calls “the right to integrity”—that is, its trustees should be able to safeguard “the protected knowledge from innovations, repudiation, internal disrespect, and external assaults.” Thus, Khan continues, apostasy should be punished because it

is aimed at dishonoring the protected knowledge of Islam. The murtad (apostate) is akin to a corporate insider who discloses the secrets he has undertaken to protect; he is akin to a state official who turns traitor and joins the ranks of the enemy; he is akin to a custodian who destroys the very monument he was safeguarding on behalf of the community. All legal systems punish insiders who breach their trusts; Islam punishes murtaddun [apostasy] too, sometimes severely.

Khan does not specify what punishment should be meted out to those Muslims in the West who compromise the “intellectual property” of Islam, and perhaps he has something in mind for them that falls short of capital punishment. After all, as he surely knows, American law generally does not countenance the execution of corporate spies and inside traders. The key point, however, is not the outlandish substance of Khan’s argument. Rather, it is the fact that he was able to use an American law review as a soapbox from which to advocate the licensed punishment of apostates—and that his grossly illiberal views were never rebutted in its pages.

The ugly rationalizations of propagandists like Syed Mumtaz Ali and Ali Khan do not emerge from nowhere; they are attempts to legitimate the harsh social reality already faced by the thousands of Muslim apostates in the West who must constantly worry about their personal safety. For most of them, this means maintaining an extremely low profile in religious contexts.

Converts from Islam, especially those who become involved in Christian ministries, often use assumed names, or only their first names, in order to protect themselves and their families.3 Thus, Abdullah, whose family hails from Saudi Arabia, kept his new faith secret for many years after converting to Christianity in 1980 while living in London. When asked about his religion, he would describe himself only as a “believer.” Even after he became a churchgoer, Abdullah hesitated to talk to fellow congregants about his spiritual journey. His new faith, as he recognized from the start, has placed him directly in harm’s way.

The most common dangers faced by Muslim apostates come from their own families. At a recent evangelical convention in Falls Church, Virginia, a couple of female converts from Islam told a reporter about their fears as new Christians. One woman said that when her family finds out, “I know they’re going to disown me if they don’t kill me.” The second woman had similar fears. “My brothers haven’t spoken to me in the last couple of years, and that was only because I married an American,” she said. “Can you imagine what they would do if they found out I was a Christian?”

Roy Oksnevad, a missionary with the Evangelical Free Church in Minneapolis, tells of a Turkish convert whose brother, an ultra-conservative imam who also owns a lucrative carpet and jewelry business, threatened to have him killed if he ever returned to Turkey. Kris Tedford, a Farsi-speaking pastor in Oakton, Virginia, told the Washington Times, “I’ve seen some people who’ve come from Iran to the United States to persecute, if not kill, in order to bring back their relatives to Islam.”

Even when apostates do not face physical danger from their families, they are often ostracized. This experience is not unique to Muslims, of course; it is a fact of life for many people who convert out of the faith into which they were born. But for Muslim apostates, the loss of family and community support can carry a heavy price, especially if they are immigrants. If they lose their livelihoods or the means to maintain themselves financially, they can be forced to return to their home countries—and that can amount to a death sentence.

Apostates living in the West also face pressure from Islamist radicals. Consider the case of Khaled, an Iraqi who converted to Christianity in 1990 while still living in the Middle East. Having immigrated to the Netherlands so that he could practice his new faith openly, he was surprised by the ferocity of the country’s Islamic fundamentalists, from whom he received regular death threats. Paul, an Egyptian convert to Christianity, reports similar experiences in Chicago. Once his apostasy was known, he was menaced by radical Muslims who frequented the restaurant at which he worked and became the object of a sustained campaign of threats and intimidation.

Responding to opponents of Syed Mumtaz Ali’s effort to bring Islamic law to Canada, an op-ed writer in the Calgary Herald recently chided his countrymen: “The barbarians are not at the gates, and liberalism is not under siege.” Stated so broadly, this benign assessment sounds compelling. Imams will not soon preside over the courtrooms of Canada or any other Western country, and anyone physically attacking a lapsed Muslim will not be able to avoid criminal prosecution simply by pleading religious freedom.

But barbarism takes many forms in our day, and one of them, surely, is the exploitation of the West’s traditions of tolerance (and, of late, multiculturalism) in the service of deeply anti-Western ends. It is a sad irony—and one that casts a harsh light on the limits of our own principles—that so many former Muslims who have come to the West seeking religious freedom have instead found, couched in the language of “equality rights,” a grotesque and insidious form of the very tyranny they have fled. The danger in which they live is quite real, a rebuke to the indulgent culture of their new societies and a disgrace to conscience.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior analyst at the Investigative Project, a terrorism research center in Washington, D.C.

1 All of these countries either have explicit anti-apostasy laws or decree capital punishment for the broader offense of blasphemy.

2 The essay is at

3 The same concern for security makes it difficult to gather information on this topic, which has been scantily covered in the press and elsewhere. Research for this article was largely conducted through personal interviews.

The Abu Ali Case and] Balancing Liberties, Security

by Daniel Pipes

For a free people in the age of terrorism, what is the proper balance between civil liberties and national security?

This debate wracks every Western country. Looking at America, the "united we stand" solidarity that followed September 11, 2001, lasted just some months, after which a much deeper divide emerged as conservatives proved far more profoundly affected by the atrocities than did liberals. The result has been the growing political acrimony of the past three years.

Many examples illustrate this divide. For the most recent, take the argument concerning Ahmed Omar Abu Ali between the conservative Bush administration and its mostly liberal critics.

Born in America to immigrant Jordanian parents, Mr. Abu Ali, 23, was indicted last week for plotting the assassination of President Bush. The prosecution asserts he was in touch with Al Qaeda and in 2002 discussed ideas of eliminating Mr. Bush by getting "close enough to the president to shoot him on the street," or by deploying a car bomb. Mr. Abu Ali's biography indicates how he might have ended up as an Al Qaeda operative.

He attended the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., graduating in 1999 as class valedictorian. As an outpost of Saudi values on American soil, the academy enjoys Saudi government funding, is chaired by the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and boasts a curriculum imported straight from Riyadh.

Thus, the first-grade teachers' guide at the Islamic Saudi Academy instructs that Christianity and Judaism are false religions. When one realizes that the curriculum is overseen by Saleh Al-Fawzan, who in 2003 endorsed the institution of slavery, this comes as less than a grand shock.

While still living in America, Mr. Abu Ali developed ties to the "paintball jihadists" of northern Virginia, nine of whom have served time in jail. In 2000, he went to study Islam at its source, at the Islamic University of Medina. In May 2003, a terrorist attack in Riyadh left 34 dead, nine of them Americans; a month later, the Saudis arrested Mr. Abu Ali for connections to this crime, incarcerating him until his recent transfer to America.

Conservatives focus on the hair-raising news that an Al Qaeda affiliate had plans to kill the president of the United States. Liberals hardly note this development, focusing instead on the question of whether, while in Saudi custody, Mr. Abu Ali was tortured (Justice Department officials call this an "utter fabrication"). Note the editorials in four northeastern newspapers:

The New York Times: This case is "another demonstration of what has gone wrong in the federal war on terror. In an undisciplined attempt to wring statements out of any conceivable suspect, American officials have worked with countries like Saudi Arabia."

The Washington Post: "the courts need to ensure that no evidence obtained by torture - with or without the connivance of the U.S. government - is used to convict people in U.S. courts."

The Baltimore Sun writes (dripping with sarcasm) that, "By unsealing a federal indictment against Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the U.S. government garnered headlines about an alleged terrorist plot, instead of the unexplained imprisonment of an American citizen in Saudi Arabia. It portrayed Mr. Abu Ali has [sic] someone other than a victim of torture. The government may think its secret is safe. But it isn't."

Newsday's editorial is titled "Shame on Bush for rights violation."

These liberal analysts evince no concern that an American citizen trained by the Saudi government in Virginia will stand trial for plotting to assassinate the president. They decline to explore the implications of this stunning piece of news. They offer no praise to law enforcement for having broken a terrorism case. Instead, they focus exclusively on evidentiary procedures. They know only civil liberties; national security does not register. But, as Prime Minister Blair correctly writes, "there is no greater civil liberty than to live free from terrorist attack."

To strike a proper balance, Westerners must ask themselves what happens in case of error about the Islamist threat. Mistakes enhancing national security leave innocents spending time in jail. Mistakes enhancing civil liberties produce mass murder and perhaps a Taliban-like state (with its near absence of civil liberties).

Which emphasis, dear reader, do you choose?

Immigration Drives Rapid U.S. Population Growth

More Than Half the Post-1970 Increase is Attributable to Immigration Policies

(Washington, DC  March 1, 2005) The 1970 U.S. Census placed Americas population at about 200 million people. Shortly thereafter, the bipartisan Rockefeller Commission issued a report that concluded that there would be no public benefit to further U.S. population growth. In the ensuing 35 years, U.S. population has swelled by 50 percent and we stand on the brink of surpassing 300 million people. How did this astounding population explosion occur?
A new study published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) finds that more than half of the 100 million increase in U.S. population is a direct result of post-1965 legal U.S. immigration policies and our failure to enforce laws against illegal immigration. The report, Immigrant Stocks Share of U.S. Population Growth 1970-2004, notes that Americas massive population increase, that is having a profound effect on the social, economic and environmental life of the nation, is the consequence of deliberate choices made by our government over the past 40 years. Moreover, the study warns unless U.S. immigration policies are changed, our population is likely to reach a half billion by mid-century and that post-1970 immigrants and their progeny will account for most of the increase.

The United States, alone among developed nations, is in the fast lane of explosive population growth, and our special interest-driven immigration policies are in the drivers seat, said Dan Stein, president of FAIR. We are recklessly mortgaging our way of life, our economic and social stability, our environment, and our agricultural abundance for the short-term economic and political gain of a few well organized special interests.

Unless corrective immigration policies are adopted quickly, our children and grandchildren will be doomed to live in a country where their opportunities, freedoms and mobility will be severely restricted, Stein cautioned. Massive population growth has, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the lives of all Americans  their ability to earn a decent living, their ability to afford a home, their ability to ensure a quality education for their children, and their right to enjoy open space and a healthy environment.

The studys authors, Joy Lee, Jack Martin and Stan Fogel note while the impact of the past 35 years of mass immigration cannot be undone, we need not compound the difficulties by perpetuating policies that are overwhelmingly opposed by the American public. We can reach rational decisions about where this nation is headed in the next 35 years and beyond. It all hinges on our willingness to address immigration policies, or whether we choose to allow those policies to dictate the future to us, state the authors.

The full text of Immigrant Stocks Share of U.S. Population Growth 1970-2004 is available at FAIRs web site,


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Back From Jamaica--Robert Spencer from Front Page

Will a new driver's license stop jihad terrorism? Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer in FrontPage:

Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation that will require states to make sure they’re providing driver’s licenses only to American citizens and legal residents. It’s an anti-terror measure: the laxity of license-issuing offices, says Sensenbrenner, is “a magnet for foreign terrorists, criminals, home grown identity thieves and illegal aliens.” His bill is supported by the Bush Administration and has already passed the House; but does it really solve the problem it is intended to solve?
Would it, for example, have stopped Roberto Aburto, his wife Azalia Gaona, Miriam Palestina and Rutilio Marquez of Port Isabel, Texas? They were arrested last week for selling fake Social Security cards and green cards to three Iranian men trying to enter the United States. If the Iranians had been terrorists and the scheme had not been uncovered, they would have been able to get around the new legislation with their forged cards.

Last week Lamont Ranson and Cedric Carpenter of New Orleans were also arrested. They told members of the Filipino jihadist group Abu Sayyaf, according to U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, that they “could obtain Mississippi drivers licenses, false documents that could be used by terrorists to enter the country, remain in the country, travel in the country.” According to AP, Ranson and Carpenter were “charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to defraud the United States and an attempt to provide material support to terrorists.”

Sensenbrenner’s new legislation is unlikely to have put either of these groups of capitalists, busy selling their enemies the rope with which they will be hanged, out of business. Industrious entrepreneurs will find a way to counterfeit any printed verification that may become necessary. What’s more, Sensenbrenner’s bill will do nothing to stop jihad terrorists who are American citizens or legal residents of the United States. Maher Hawash, the Intel video technology wizard who pled guilty in August 2003 to conspiring to aid the Taliban, was a naturalized American citizen.

Another American citizen, former Council on American Islamic Relations communications specialist Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, is now serving twenty years in prison for his role in the “Virginia jihad network.” Royer, a St. Louis native and convert to Islam, stockpiled arms and, according to his indictment, planned “to prepare for and engage in violent jihad on behalf of Muslims in Kashmir, Chechnya, the Philippines and other countries and territories, against countries, governments, military forces and peoples that the defendants and their conspirators believed to be enemies of Islam.”
Sahim Alwan is also an American citizen. A leader of the Yemeni community in Lackawanna, New York and onetime president of the mosque there, he has the distinction of being the first American to attend an Al Qaeda training camp. Why did he go? He was convinced to do so by Kamal Derwish, an Al Qaeda recruiter. Alwan explained that Derwish taught him that the Qur’an “says you have to learn how to prepare. Like, you gotta be prepared just in case you do have to go to war. If there is war, then you would have to be called for jihad. And that was the aspect of the camp itself, for going and learn how to use weapons, and stuff like that.”

Besides American citizenship, Hawash, Royer, Alwan and other jihadists in America have another thing in common: their move toward violent jihad came as they became more religious and serious about Islam. Alwan puts his finger on the real problem: jihad recruiters like Kamal Derwish have moved unimpeded among American Muslims and used the Qur’an and Islamic tradition to recruit terrorists. What is needed to meet this problem is not a new driver’s license, but a realistic acknowledgement by law enforcement officials of the fact that what happened to Alwan could happen anywhere in America today. Because of Islam’s religious character, officials (as well as the media) have been profoundly reluctant to admit this — and their reluctance has left us all that much more vulnerable to attacks on American soil of the kind that Hawash, Royer, and Alwan wanted to carry out elsewhere.

It is now over five years since the Naqshbandi Sufi Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani testified at a State Department Open Forum that Muslims holding an “extremist ideology” had taken over “more than 80 percent of the mosques that have been established in the US. And there are more than 3000 mosques in the US.” What serious investigation has been mounted to determine whether or not he was correct? Corroborating evidence came just last month from Freedom House, which released a report revealing the extent to which American mosques are filled with jihadist material. One high school textbook — used by Muslim students in the U. S. — declares: “To be true Muslims, we must prepare and be ready for jihad in Allah’s way….Until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful.”

But why are such textbooks still used in American Muslim schools over five years after Kabbani’s testimony?

What we need to fight terrorism effectively, Congressman Sensenbrenner, are intelligence and law enforcement agencies that are aware of such teachings, and respond accordingly — not a better driver’s license.

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