Friday, April 29, 2005

With Bush's Backing, Congress Weighing Law To Require National ID

New York Sun
BY DANIELA GERSON - Staff Reporter of the Sun

A measure that would create a uniform national driver's license came closer to becoming law yesterday as House and Senate negotiators met to seek a compromise. Some opponents called the proposal the most virulent anti-immigrant legislation in decades.

Supporters of what is called the Real ID Act, which was included in the House emergency supplemental appropriations package to finance military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it will make America more secure by enhancing internal security and border controls. The Bush administration wrote a letter of support Tuesday, and some congressional aides said it could pass as early as the end of this week.

In addition to imposing new standardization measures at the federal level, the House Republicans' bill forbids the states to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, makes it more difficult for immigrants without legal status to claim political asylum, and allows federal officials to complete a fence along the Mexican border, among other provisions.

Opponents warned that those steps would not protect America from terrorist attacks and would only drive illegal immigrants farther underground. Moreover, they said the Real ID Act has the potential of derailing the movement toward comprehensive immigration reform, promoted by President Bush and based on the principle that the country will be more secure if illegal immigrants, estimated to number between 10 million and 12 million, are brought into the system.

"I think this is the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation that has a good chance of passing in decades," the director of federal policy for the National Immigration Law Center, Josh Bernstein, said. "This legislation, in addition to not solving problems, is a really dangerous approach. Each of the aspects will make us less secure from terrorists."

The provisions on driver's licenses, which some opponents called a back door to a national identification card, have generated the most controversy. Immigrant advocates said the measure would encourage a black market in identity documents, make roads less secure, drive up insurance costs, and punish economic immigrants for terrorists' actions.

Today, as part of a week of coordinated, nationwide protests, hundreds of immigrants and community leaders plan to protest at the Department of Motor Vehicles' X-Press office at Midtown that they are being targeted. In New York, the issue of granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants has been playing out since last year, when the DMV began sending letters to more than 300,000 New Yorkers who had secured their licenses with what appeared to be fraudulent Social Security numbers. The letters threaten suspension of licenses of drivers who cannot demonstrate that they have valid identification documents.

"The fate of what happens at the state level really is hinging on what happens at the federal level with Real ID," an attorney with the National Employment Law Project, Amy Sugimori, said. She said the federal legislation would prevent states from coming up with policies that reflect the needs of their residents.

Nine states allow drivers' licenses to be granted to illegal immigrants. New York does not explicitly bar it but has stringent requirements for issuing licenses.

Recently, states began to work with the federal government to develop federal drivers' license reforms, based on intelligence legislation passed in December.

Some of those involved in that effort said the Real ID Act, which sets minimum standards for documents such as verification of documents provided, evidence of applicants' lawful status, and sharing of driver's license data, would abort that process.

"What the Real ID does is it eliminates and literally dismantles the 9/11 reforms," a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, Cheye Calvo, said. "In its place it puts in rigid, prescriptive, and in some cases unworkable mandates on states."

Supporters of the bill, however, maintained that the provisions on drivers' license, and in particular the federal requirement of legal status as a prerequisite for receiving a license, would protect America against terrorists.

"The problem is that the provisions that were in the bill last December are meaningless because they have such weak standards," a spokesman for Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of the bill, said.

"They don't have a lawful-presence requirement, which is the most glaring loophole," the spokesman, Jeff Lungren, said. "That's why this bill is known as the Real ID. That is why you see some trying to derail it, because they realize it has real teeth to it, as opposed to the fig leaf that was passed in December."

Supporters of the bill have emphasized their view that it would help prevent a repeat of the September 11 attacks.

"Basically, 19 terrorists were carrying well over 50 false IDs among them," Rep. Peter King, Republican of Long Island, said. "Obviously identification is a way for terrorists to move around."

Mr. King was among the 261 House members who supported the bill.

In the New York delegation, all nine Republicans and one Democrat, Michael McNulty of the Albany area, voted for it, and 18 Democrats opposed it.

One of the 161 House members who voted against the bill, Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of Manhattan, said in a statement: "The asylum provisions in this bill are so stringent that we would end up turning away most refugees, even if they are legitimate victims. We can never forget that this nation is a beacon of hope to the persecuted across the globe. It is inhumane and un-American to deport the innocent back to countries that will torture them."

The supplemental spending bill, to which the Real ID Act was attached, stalled in the Senate last week. It eventually passed, but without the Real ID immigration provisions. The Real ID Act was never voted upon in the Senate. Senators Clinton and Schumer have not made clear their positions on it - to the dismay of its proponents and opponents alike. Neither New York senator returned calls seeking comment on the legislation.

In 1996, the last time that major immigration legislation was enacted, controversial measures tacked on to an appropriation bill resulted in significant changes in the rights of non-citizens. In written testimony submitted to a Senate subcommittee last week, a professor at the New York University School of Law, Nancy Morawetz, warned of repeating the unintended consequences of hastily drafted immigration legislation.

"Immigration law is highly technical, making it dangerous to legislate without careful deliberation based on hearings and committee deliberation," she said.

Rather than careful deliberation, immigrants' advocates said, the measure is being rushed through.

"People in both parties have said the system is broken and this needs to be fixed," the counsel to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Bob Randava, said. The Leadership Conference, a coalition of more than 180 national civil-rights and human-rights organizations, has joined with more than 600 groups to oppose the Real ID Act.

"It's really foolish to try and attach all this in some kind of mad rush onto a bill that is designed for U.S. troops fighting in Iraq," Mr. Randava said. "These are provisions that need really serious study, and none whatsoever has taken place."

Experts: Islamist Terror Cells in Europe May Now Pose Biggest Threat to US Security

By Dan Robinson

Experts testifying before a congressional committee say the threat of terrorism may be greatest at present from Islamist terror cells in European countries.

The experts told the House Subcommittee on Europe and Emerging Threats that a combination of factors lead them to believe terrorist cells in Europe may pose the biggest threat to the security of the United States and its interests.

Peter Bergen, who has written on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, is among those who see a trend of growing alienation of Muslims in European countries as feeding the aims of terrorist groups seeking new members. "We have the unfortunate confluence of rising Muslim immigration into Europe, a certain amount of European racism, and a certain amount of Muslim alienation, and this problem is going to increase over time," he said.

With Europe's Muslim population estimated as high as 20 million, other witnesses agreed with Mr. Bergen that more attention needs to be paid to this trend.

Claude Moniquet is director of the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.

While many Muslims in Europe know they enjoy more extensive civil liberties and other benefits not obtainable in their home countries, he says others have a different agenda. "A strong minority has very different meanings and a very different agenda. They think they must oppose democracy. They rally around radical patrons. They press extremist views of Islam and some of them choose to fight the so-called western enemy by arms or by bombs," he said.

Mr. Moniquet agrees with others on the role a lack of social integration has played, creating second and third generation Muslims who feel isolated, coupled with high unemployment in Muslim communities, even higher among Muslim youth.

Lorenzo Vidino, Deputy Director of The Investigative Project, notes that a significant part of planning by al-Qaida for the September 11, 2001 attacks took place in Europe.

He points to a troubling escalation of Islamist terrorist and extremist activities attributable to these factors developing over the past 10 years. "Lax immigration policies that have allowed known Islamic radicals to settle in Europe. The radicalization of significant segments of the continent's growing Muslim population. And the European law enforcement agencies inability to effectively dismantle terrorist networks, due to poor attention to the problem and or the lack of proper legal tools."

Mr. Vidino says Europe-based Islamist groups play an essential role in money laundering, supplying weapons and false documents, and recruitment, adding it would not be an exaggeration to describe Europe as a new headquarters of operations for terrorists, as Afghanistan was before the ouster of the Taliban.

Although U.S. lawmakers are relieved that there have been no major terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since the September 2001 attacks, they remain concerned not only that Europe could be used as a springboard for future attacks, but also about potential terrorist actions against U.S. interests.

Elton Gallegly, chairman of House subcommittee on Europe, sums up this concern. "The potential of extremist groups in Europe to obtain or develop weapons of mass destruction. Given the continued problem in securing our border with Mexico and Canada, I am concerned that dangerous weapons originating in Europe can pose a direct threat to our homeland," he said.

In the view of Claude Moniquet this concern is fully justified and offers this chilling prediction. "It is hard to be optimistic. The threats both against Europe, and from Europe to the United States will remain at a very high level (for) the foreseeable future," he said. "And I am afraid that a tragedy will be necessary for the European authorities to face the realities and to really address the problem posed by Islamists. The question in my view is no more and no longer if the tragedy will happen but when it will happen."

In his testimony to the committee, terrorism expert Peter Bergen told lawmakers he expects that future attacks are more likely to mirror those that took place in Madrid last year.

The hearing came as members of Congress are pressing hard for the U.S. government to devote more resources to securing America's borders and transportation system, and tightening immigration procedures to prevent terrorists from attacking again.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Records Show Man in LAX Plot Gave U.S. Key Terrorist Details

Sentencing of Man in LAX Bomb Plot Delayed
By Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writer
Seattle Times

SEATTLE — The would-be millennium bomber who crossed the border from Canada with a trunkload of explosive materials to blow up Los Angeles International Airport has instead blown holes in his former terrorist network, court documents and interviews show.

Since his conviction in 2001, Algerian expatriate Ahmed Ressam, 37, has provided information on more than 100 suspected terrorists, helped shut down clandestine Al Qaeda cells and exposed valuable organizational secrets of the global terrorist network.

Now, after years of delays, he faces sentencing scheduled for today.

In recent weeks, a dispute over the level of his continuing cooperation has produced stacks of court documents disclosing for the first time much of the thwarted terrorist's contribution to investigators.

Ressam's cooperation, his defense lawyers contend, has saved countless lives, including those of FBI agents who otherwise wouldn't have known that a sneaker they had seized from would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid contained a virtually undetectable but powerful explosive device.

Interviews with investigators and counter-terrorism officials, as well as documents filed by federal prosecutors, confirm significant details entered in the court record by Ressam's lawyers. Much of the defense argument about the value of information Ressam provided is undisputed by prosecutors in their briefs.

Defense lawyers offered more details than prosecutors in their campaign to win a reduced sentence for Ressam. In one memorandum, they suggest that before Ressam began cooperating in the summer of 2001, U.S. authorities incorrectly focused on Osama bin Laden as the sole mastermind of all Islamic terrorist operations against the U.S.

"It is our understanding that based on Mr. Ressam's information, the intelligence-gathering community confirmed for the first time that the Afghanistan training camps did not operate under the sole authority of Osama bin Laden, but rather, involved a number of leaders and groups with similar objectives," defense lawyers said in documents arguing that Ressam's assistance warranted considerable leniency from the judge.

"This was important news to the intelligence community and was relayed to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," the lawyers said.

One U.S. counter-terrorism official familiar with the case confirmed that Ressam provided the FBI, CIA and other authorities with names and job descriptions of numerous terrorist leaders, who, like Bin Laden, were "emirs" who helped operate Afghan training camps to prepare their soldiers for jihadist missions in their homelands.

"That was one of the changes we had to look at," the U.S. official said. "He separated out the myth that everyone was Al Qaeda. Everyone [in the U.S. government] wanted to say everything was Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, and Ressam told us it wasn't like that, that it was different bunches of guys that wanted to go off and do their own [stuff]."

The U.S. official cited Abu Musab Zarqawi and London-based Abu Doha as examples of such leaders. But he said there were others, and that many of them remained at large and intent on attacking U.S. interests here and abroad.

While acknowledging the value of Ressam's information, federal prosecutors complained that he stopped talking months ago. As a result, government lawyers told the court, they cannot proceed with high-profile terrorism prosecutions of Doha and a Canadian named Samir Ait Mohammed unless Ressam resumes his cooperation and court testimony.

"The United States currently finds itself in the extremely difficult position of trying to proceed with these critical prosecutions after the most significant evidence has evaporated," wrote John McKay, U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington state, which includes Seattle.

"To dismiss the charges would be a significant blow to the United States' efforts to fight the global war on terrorism."

At today's hearing, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour could side with prosecutors and sentence Ressam to at least 35 years in federal prison for his lead role in the plot to detonate a suitcase bomb at LAX in late December 1999 as worldwide millennium celebrations were getting underway.

Defense lawyers are pressing Coughenour for a sentence of no more than 12 years, in recognition of his extensive and valued cooperation in the counter-terrorism campaign.

In a February 2003 hearing, the veteran judge described evidence provided by Ressam as "rather startlingly helpful." But Coughenour has since given no public indication of how he may rule.

The documents filed to influence Coughenour's decision offer details about Ressam's central role in the U.S. counter-terrorism campaign.

They also indicate that senior Bush administration law enforcement and intelligence officials remain convinced that Islamic terrorist organizations pose a grave threat to U.S. interests here and abroad despite four years of aggressive measures.

In an interview, Assistant U.S. Atty. Robin Baker said she could not comment on any aspect of the Ressam case given the pending sentencing hearing, and other prosecutors and defense lawyers also have declined to make statements.

For the last four years, authorities have shielded even the most routine details of Ressam's cooperation agreement from public disclosure. It was signed several weeks after his conviction in Los Angeles on charges that could have brought 130 years in prison.

Ressam was arrested after a U.S. Customs officer became suspicious as Ressam drove a rented Chevrolet off a ferry from Canada to Port Angeles, Wash.

Authorities later concluded that the explosives hidden in the trunk were powerful enough to take down a small building or kill hundreds of airport travelers.

The court documents show that Ressam steadfastly refused to cooperate with the FBI in the months following his arrest.

Court records also reveal for the first time that Ressam suffered an emotional breakdown after his conviction.

It was sometime after that episode that he agreed to help the FBI go after his former associates — an Algerian terrorist group and the broader umbrella organization known as Al Qaeda.

Ressam's change of heart and agreement to cooperate came in part because of the patient efforts of FBI Special Agent Fred Humphries III, a counter-terrorism specialist in Seattle. He developed a rapport with the soft-spoken Algerian and ultimately gained his trust and respect, defense lawyers said in their court papers.

One of Ressam's first admissions was that authorities had been wrong in speculating that he and his associates planned to blow up Seattle's Space Needle. Their intended target, Ressam disclosed, was an LAX terminal teeming with holiday travelers. They wanted to strike at the heart of an American symbol of commerce.

Once Ressam began providing information, the FBI tapped his insider knowledge of Al Qaeda and its Afghan training camps where he spent about nine months learning to make explosives, as well as techniques of urban warfare.

Court files detail the physical and emotional demands of his cooperation.

On 72 different days, Ressam was trundled back and forth from his cell at the Federal Detention Center SeaTac in Washington state to special holding rooms where he was debriefed for hours at a stretch by FBI agents, prosecutors and other authorities.

Ressam started by naming specific terrorists in Al Qaeda and other groups, including some — like recently convicted Zacarias Moussaoui — whom he recognized from his stints at two training camps in Afghanistan.

One of those camps was supervised by Doha, who was in charge of sending Al Qaeda recruits to Afghanistan from Europe, Ressam said. The information was used by the Justice Department to indict Doha in the summer of 2001, the documents show.

Ressam told authorities how terrorist groups financed their activities, recruited and trained operatives, and maintained global networks of sleeper cells, his defense lawyers said in their court papers.

By midsummer 2001, Ressam began providing intelligence of a more general nature about how Al Qaeda was preparing an attack on U.S. soil, at a time when the CIA was insisting that all of its intelligence pointed to a strike somewhere overseas.

Ressam's warnings didn't say when or where such an attack or attacks would occur, according to court briefs, but they were credible enough — and sufficiently alarming — to be included in the now-infamous briefing paper given to President Bush five weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was Ressam's information that supported the briefing paper's title: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

After the suicide hijackings killed about 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, Ressam became the object of more intense interest to the FBI, CIA and foreign governments concerned about possible attacks.

In one sentencing memorandum, Assistant Public Defender Michael Filipovic said Ressam showed FBI agents an Al Qaeda technique for building a paper detonator for explosive devices to be used on commercial airplanes.

Months later, would-be bomber Reid was arrested on a December 2001 flight from Paris to Miami, and one of those agents identified such a device in Reid's sneakers. Previous explosives tests had failed to detect it.

At least one agent, Filipovic wrote, "would likely have been severely injured or killed" without knowledge of the shoe's potential danger.

Senior Justice Department officials in Washington and New York took a personal interest in Ressam, adding to the frequency and intensity of interrogations. Ressam began to buckle under the stress, his lawyers said.

They insist that Ressam remains ready to cooperate if asked, and that he stopped providing information after he began suffering "cognitive difficulties" brought on by solitary confinement and aggressive interrogation procedures by the FBI.

A psychiatric evaluation of Ressam done at the request of his lawyers remains under seal. Prosecutors have dismissed it as the biased conjecture of a paid witness.

Prosecutors described their 35-year sentencing recommendation as generous, particularly since Ressam had stopped cooperating.

"Ressam's solemn and intended goal was to wreak destruction — on lives, on structures, and on the nation," prosecutors wrote in a memo to Coughenour. "His sentence should be an unfaltering response to that heinous goal."

Without Ressam's help, prosecutors told the judge, they will likely have to drop their criminal case against Doha, who is awaiting extradition from Britain on charges of masterminding the LAX plot.

In a second case, the Justice Department is seeking to have Samir Ait Mohammed extradited from Canada to face charges of conspiring with Ressam to carry out the attack.

Ressam has issued a personal plea of his own, asking Coughenour for leniency in light of cooperation.

"I regret my participation in these events, accept my responsibility for my actions and I am sorry for what I have done," Ressam wrote

Testimony of Porter J. Goss,

Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Before the Select Committee on Intelligence

United States Senate

April 27, 2005

Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, and Members of the Committee.

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the important role the USA PATRIOT Act has played in improving the ability of the Intelligence Community to fight the global war on terrorism. As you recall, in October 2001, members of Congress worked together in a united effort to create legislation that would give federal law enforcement and intelligence officials the additional legal authorities needed to combat the terrorist threat to our country. I can assure you that the tools you provided in the PATRIOT Act have greatly assisted intelligence officials in the on-going effort to interdict and disrupt terrorist groups and individuals who seek to do harm to our country and our citizens. I will now briefly discuss how the PATRIOT Act has been most helpful to intelligence officers, and, along with my colleagues, the Attorney General, and the Director, FBI, urge you to renew permanently those provisions of the Act due to expire at the end of this year.


The PATRIOT Act has played a large role in an information-sharing transformation throughout the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities, permitting a cultural shift in previously unshakeable paradigms. Today, intelligence officers have the ability to receive foreign intelligence information from federal law enforcement officials that has been obtained during the course of criminal investigations, and the PATRIOT Act makes it clear that this information may include information obtained from grand jury proceedings and criminal investigative wiretaps. If the various provisions of the PATRIOT Act that authorize this foreign intelligence information sharing are permitted to sunset, we will lose some of the essential weapons used to counter the grave threats posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Now is not the time to engage in unilateral disarmament.

Of particular concern is the “wall” that served to limit the sharing of information between intelligence and law enforcement officers. The wall was a barrier against full and discerning dialogue and greatly impinged on the effective use of critical tools necessary to fight terrorism. Continuation of the PATRIOT Act information sharing provisions ensures while we do not hamstring ourselves in this vital area of intelligence and law enforcement collaboration we will also take the appropriate steps to protect the privacy rights and civil liberties of Americans.

If the information sharing provisions of the PATRIOT Act are permitted to expire, currently robust information sharing relationships may be adversely impacted as officials seek guidance on what information sharing is permitted absent the PATRIOT Act authorities, because the clarifying and instructive benefits of the PATRIOT Act will be lost. As any war-fighter will tell you, a necessary tool in fighting the battle is the ability to share information freely to get the job done expeditiously and effectively. Constructs that otherwise preclude information sharing had to be torn down, and the PATRIOT Act provisions accomplished that end. Resurrection of these obstacles will significantly impede the war effort.

If, however, the provisions scheduled to sunset are renewed, ongoing efforts by government officials to use the PATRIOT Act authorities to improve information sharing, to utilize highly valuable limited resources most effectively, and to continue the cooperation between agencies, will continue. One of the most positive illustrations of this collaborative environment may be found in the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

NCTC is a specific example of how the information-sharing authorities of the PATRIOT Act have been leveraged to benefit the Federal Government as a whole.

NCTC personnel assigned from multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence community entities receive foreign intelligence information from the FBI that is obtained by the Bureau during criminal investigations and disseminated to NCTC under authorities granted by the PATRIOT Act.

This information is compiled with other foreign intelligence information obtained through traditional intelligence collection methods and is used to produce all-source terrorism analysis that is subsequently disseminated throughout the Intelligence Community and to officers within the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

NCTC officials also use terrorist identity information disseminated by federal law enforcement officials under PATRIOT Act authorities to maintain TIPOFF, a database used to prevent known and suspected terrorists from entering the United States. NCTC officials estimate that the number of known or suspected terrorists that have been intercepted at US borders, based on FBI reporting alone, has increased due to the information sharing provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

In addition to talking about the information sharing provisions that are due to expire in a few months, I wanted to also highlight the importance of another information sharing authority in the PATRIOT Act. This provision, section 905 of the Act, not only permits, but also generally requires the Attorney General to expeditiously disclose to the DCI, and now to the DNI under the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, foreign intelligence information acquired by the Department of Justice during the course of criminal investigations. This provision, like the expiring information sharing provisions, encourages the free flow of intelligence information by removing any doubt from the minds of federal law enforcement officials that sharing is authorized.


My colleagues from the Department of Justice will discuss with you how federal law enforcement officials have benefited from amendments made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the PATRIOT Act. I would like to advise you how authority granted by the PATRIOT Act has enabled the DCI to improve the process for submitting FISA requests to the Attorney General and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The PATRIOT Act called upon the DCI to establish requirements and priorities for foreign intelligence information to be collected under the FISA and to assist the Attorney General with the dissemination of FISA-derived intelligence. The DNI is now charged with these responsibilities under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

In June 2003, the DCI implemented this provision of the PATRIOT Act by creating an interagency panel to prioritize requests seeking authorization to engage in foreign intelligence collection operations under the FISA. The panel, coordinated by the ADCI for Collection, includes representatives from the CIA, DOJ, FBI, and NSA. The prioritization mechanisms established by the panel are working well and have enabled intelligence officials to carefully weigh and accommodate competing priorities for FISA-authorized collection operations, making the best use of the limited resources of the FBI, NSA, CIA, and the Department of Justice, and most specifically, the FISA Court.


Let me conclude my comments today by saying that the PATRIOT Act has improved the ability of intelligence officials to fight the war on terrorism by removing legal and cultural impediments that previously prohibited or discouraged the sharing of foreign intelligence obtained by federal law enforcement officials during the course of criminal investigations, and by enhancing the ability of the intelligence and law enforcement communities to collect and analyze vital information to wage an effective and continuing effort to disrupt international terrorist activities. Failure to renew the provisions due to sunset will ill-serve the national security of the United States.

I thank you for inviting me to speak with you today, and for your continued support.


Lobby At-Home Activity for Thursday...Fax Senate Leadership, Call Conferees
The House/Senate conference on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill began today. Victory on retaining the REAL ID provisions is close, but more work is needed to keep the pressure up.

Since the start of the at-home lobby effort this Monday to coincide with hundreds of activists visiting Washington D.C, we've been getting a ton of feedback from FAIR activists around the country. Your message is being heard loud and clear! Check out the Stein Report for samples of some of your comments.


1. FAX SENATE LEADERSHIP...CICK HERE to start faxing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

2. CALL CONFEREES...Call as many conferees as possible tomorrow and urge them to retain the House-passed REAL ID provisions in the final emergency supplemental bill. Start with the Senate Democrats and the House conferees who voted against the REAL ID Act. (If you're a constituent, say so when calling.)

Report all intelligence gathered to FAIR's Communication Center by emailing, subject line: "FTTF at-home lobby."


You can call their offices directly, or call the Senate Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) - 202-224-3841 - Sen. Feinstein has vocally opposed including REAL ID in the supplemental.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) - 202-224-4721
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) - 202-224-3254
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) - 202-224-2152
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) - 202-224-5824
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) - 202-224-4654
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) - 202-224-2551
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) - 202-224-3542
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) - 202-224-5824
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) - 202-224-4242
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) - 202-224-2621
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) - 202-224-5653
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) - 202-224-3954

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) - 202-224-3004
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) - 202-224-5744
Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) - 202-224-5941
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) - 202-224-2752
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) - 202-224-6521 - Sen. Brownback has threatened to offer an amendment to strip REAL ID from the final emergency supplemental.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) - 202-224-2541
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) - 202-224-5054
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) - 202-224-5721
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) - 202-224-2644
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) - 202-224-3324
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) - 202-224-6621
Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) - 202-224-2315
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) - 202-224-4254
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) - 202-224-5922
Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) - 202-224-5444

You can call their offices directly, or call the House Switchboard (202-225-3121) and ask to be connected.

The following conferees VOTED AGAINST the REAL ID Act (H.R. 418) when considered as stand alone legislation. Hold them accountable.

Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN) - 202-225-2461
Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN) - 202-225-4755
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) - 202-225-6506
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) - 202-225-2065
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WA) - 202-225-4172
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) - 202-225-5916
Rep. David R. Obey (D-WI) - 202-225-3365
These conferees VOTED FOR the REAL ID Act. Thank them for this vote.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) - 202-225-2542
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) - 202-225-5861
Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) - 202-225-5961
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) - 202-225-4601
Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) - 202-225-5802
Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-NC) - 202-225-6401
Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY) - 202-225-3701
Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH) - 202-225-3876
Rep. David L. Hobson (R-OH) - 202-225-4324
Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) - 202-225-6105
Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) - 202-225-4511
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) - 202-225-5136

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

American Border Secrets

by Daniel Pipes

What steps should Western border agencies take to defend their homelands from harm by Islamists?

In the case of non-citizens, the answer is simple: Don't let Islamists in. Exclude not just potential terrorists but also anyone who supports the totalitarian goals of radical Islam. Just as civilized countries did not welcome fascists in the early 1940s (or communists a decade later), they need not welcome Islamists today.

But what about one's own citizens who cross the border? They could be leaving to fight for the Taliban or returning from a course on terrorism techniques. Or perhaps they studied with enemies of the West who incited them to sabotage or sedition. Clearly, the authorities should take steps to find out more about their activities, especially given the dangerous jihadi culture already in place in many Western countries, including Canada.

This question arose in late December 2004, after a three-day Islamist conference, "Reviving the Islamic Spirit," took place in Toronto. The event, boasting a host of high-profile Islamist speakers such as Bilal Philips, Zaid Shakir, Siraj Wahhaj, and Hamza Yusuf, alarmed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), America's new border agency.

Spokeswoman Kristie Clemens explained that her agency had information on how events such as the one in Toronto "may be used by terrorist organizations to promote terrorist activities, which includes traveling and fund raising." Ms. Clemens later added that the CBP has "credible, ongoing information that these types of conferences have been used and are being used by terrorist organizations to not only transport fraudulent documents but to mask travel by terrorists." Terrorists imagine, she pointed out, that if they travel in a large group, "we're going to be less restrictive and try to expedite the processing."

Her explanation hints at why the CBP decided to detain nearly 40 Muslims, many of them American citizens, as they returned to the U.S. by car from the Toronto conference. The travelers report they spent long hours at the border near Buffalo, N.Y., and none too pleasantly. One woman said she was asked whether the wire in her underwire bra was a weapon. Another, seven months' pregnant, reported that border agents lifted her blouse to make sure she really was pregnant. A third traveler quotes himself asking a border guard, "If I refuse to give my fingerprints, what will you do?" to which he got a terse reply: "You can refuse, but you'll be here until you do."

When Daniel W. Sutherland, officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP's parent organization, spoke in Buffalo earlier this month, he discussed the December episode. On principle, however, he neither justified nor condemned CBP's procedures. Rather, he only acknowledged that CBP did an "after-action review" and refined a few points. Mr. Sutherland placed the detaining of citizens into a larger context ("There are multiple pieces to that puzzle") and spent most of his time emphasizing the need for his department and Muslim groups to work better together.

He was right to remain discreetly uninformative. America finds itself at war with radical Islam not just in Afghanistan but in Buffalo, Boston, Boca Raton, and Baltimore. Controlling the border flow, therefore, has paramount importance. As a law enforcement agency, the CBP in this and other cases (notably that of Tariq Ramadan) should not divulge its exact reasons for excluding foreigners or detaining citizens. To do otherwise would compromise national security.

Which in turn probably explains why, last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American Civil Liberties Union – two organizations consistently hostile to American self-protection – goaded five of the detained travelers to sue the federal government on the grounds that they "were unlawfully detained, interrogated, fingerprinted, and photographed."

Two of the plaintiffs' demands have lasting implications: that the court declare the CBP had violated the travelers' rights and that it enjoin the CBP from "detaining, interrogating, fingerprinting, and photographing United States citizens who are Muslim because they are returning to the country after having attended religious conferences."

Were the plaintiffs to prevail in this case, attending religious conferences would instantly become the favored method for terrorists and other Islamists to cross the American border without hindrance. Such a malign implication means this lawsuit needs to be tossed out by the courts.

London granny blew my cover, says French spy

By Henry Samuel in Paris
Daily Telegraph

A former French spy has revealed how he gave British intelligence the slip to shadow Islamists in London but eventually had his cover blown by a nosey grandmother.

In his new book, Pierre Martinet details how he prepared the way for follow-up teams to "neutralise" several Islamist suspects in foreign capitals, including London, should French politicians decide to put them out of action.

According to the publishers, the book, La DGSE, Action Service, An Agent Comes Out of the Shadow, out tomorrow, sets a precedent as the first time a former officer of DGSE, France's foreign intelligence service, has given a hands-on account of the profession.

Mr Martinet claims to have spent several months in London monitoring Abu Walid, a suspected member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the GIA, with links to al-Qa'eda.

He says his unit also spied on Abu Hamza, the radical cleric suspected of turning Finsbury Park mosque into a base for turning devout Muslims into terrorists.

Abu Hamza, infamous for praising Osama Bin Laden and warning the Government about the consequences of attacking Iraq, was arrested last year on an extradition warrant issued by the US government.

Mr Martinet's other operations included stints in Stockholm and Geneva, where his task was to track down the fugitive Serbian war criminal, Radovan Karadzic.

But he insisted that no country, including Britain - whose secret services enjoy an excellent reputation in France - was aware of his presence.

"Never," he said. "We work as in the Second World War films. Each of us has a false identity, false passports; we only communicate in bars and make sure we're never followed."

The shaven-headed, unassuming 41-year-old also dispelled the glamorous myths associated with secret agents. "James Bond is the anti-agent par excellence," he said. "He wears a tuxedo, drives an Aston Martin and gets the girls. We, on the other hand, rent cheap Renaults, avoid cocktails, use false names, and never stand out."

However, some of his attempts at "blending in" may have raised a few suspicions. On one mission to London he thought it best to grow sideburns and sport a tweed cap. He also admits that his pidgin English was a serious handicap.

But without doubt an agent's worst enemy, he claimed, is the nosey grandmother who peeps through her curtains and rings the police if she notices anything untoward. Such a nightmare neighbour forced him to abandon his surveillance of Abu Walid's home in Wembley, which he nicknames "Londonistan", and flee the capital.

He said: "A police car pulled up. I was able to fob them off by saying I was waiting for a football match, but once they radioed my identity, it would only take a call to Interpol to unmask me, so I had to leave London immediately."

Once an agent's cover is blown, even in a friendly country, they generally spend the rest of their career "in the cupboard", he said.

Another weak point shared by French secret agents in London was their inability to drive on the left. So his unit had a right-hand-drive vehicle shipped over the Channel to give them practice.

His first mission to London was also his first ever visit to the UK. "For me, London was James Bond, Shakespeare, the Beatles, and French footballers who had emigrated," he said. "It's clear that the English can't stand us and we return the compliment."

Jurors Convict Muslim Leader in Terrorism Case

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

A prominent Muslim spiritual leader from Fairfax County was convicted yesterday of inciting his followers to train overseas for violent jihad against the United States.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria decided that Ali Al-Timimi's words, coming shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, were enough to send him to prison for what prosecutors said will be a mandatory life sentence.

Timidi, 41, who was born and raised in the Washington area and has lectured on Islam around the world, was convicted of inspiring a group of his Northern Virginia followers to attend terrorist training camps abroad and prepare to battle American troops. He was found guilty of all 10 charges against him, including soliciting others to levy war against the United States and contributing services to Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers.

The heart of the government's case against Timimi was a meeting he attended in Fairfax on Sept. 16, 2001 -- five days after the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Timimi told his followers that "the time had come for them to go abroad and join the mujahideen engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan," according to court papers.

Many of them practiced for jihad by playing paintball in the Virginia countryside, and some left the United States to train at terrorist training camps, but none actually went to Afghanistan and fought against American troops.

The conviction, after seven days of deliberations, reignited a debate that played out in the courtroom over whether Timimi was committing a crime with his often-incendiary rhetoric or was a Muslim scholar exercising his rights to free speech.

"When you've taken no other action but to use words to encourage violence and it's not imminent in the sense that you're inciting a riot at that moment . . . I don't think this country ought to be going in that direction of jurisprudence,'' said Kenneth Anderson, an American University law professor who describes himself as a strong supporter of the Bush administration's efforts against terrorism.

But Ruth Wedgwood, a law professor at Johns Hopkins University and a former federal prosecutor, said Timimi's words could make him as guilty as the people who followed his advice and flew off to the terrorist camps. "If one's demonstrated intention is to procure a violent act, that's not protected speech,'' she said.

Timimi showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read yesterday morning. Prosecutors argued that Timimi, who has been free on bond, should be jailed until he is sentenced July 13. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, while acknowledging that under "normal circumstances" she would order Timimi into custody, said he could remain free with electronic monitoring. She cited the "second- and third-degree removed nature" of his crimes.

The case against Timimi culminated an investigation in which 11 Muslim men, all but one from the Washington area, were charged with participating in paramilitary training -- including playing paintball -- to prepare for "holy war" abroad. Timimi was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case, in which nine men were convicted in 2003 and 2004.

The Justice Department hailed Timimi's conviction and said the investigation had secured more successful prosecutions than any domestic terrorism case since Sept. 11.

"By his treasonous criminal acts, [Timimi] has proven himself to be a kingpin of hate against America and everything we stand for, especially our freedom," said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty.

Edward B. MacMahon Jr., an attorney for Timimi, said "obviously, we are disappointed with the jury's verdict." He vowed to file motions asking Brinkema to set aside the decision. Timimi, who consulted his attorneys and ate lunch at the courthouse after the verdict, declined to comment.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors said Timimi exerted a strong influence over the other men when he was the primary lecturer at the Center for Islamic Information and Education, also known as Dar Al-Arqam, in Falls Church.

Timimi was accused of approving a plan for group members to prepare for jihad by obtaining military training from Lashkar-i-Taiba, an organization trying to drive India from the disputed region of Kashmir. The U.S. government has labeled Lashkar a terrorist organization. Several of the men then went to a Lashkar camp, court records show.

Several of the defendants from the earlier case testified against Timimi.

In closing arguments last week, prosecutors argued that Timimi's words were dangerous because they were intended to cause violent acts.

"When Tony Soprano says go whack some guy, that's not protected speech,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg.

Defense attorneys argued that the case was about freedom of speech and religion. "All this man has done is exercise the rights all American citizens have," MacMahon said in court. "He has uttered words, folks, mere words."

Passengers describe flight as a terrorist dry run

By Audrey Hudson
The Homeland Security Department's inspector general is investigating an incident involving 14 Syrian passengers aboard a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles last summer described by many federal air marshals and passengers as a dry run for a terrorist attack.
The investigation began shortly after the June 29 incident, but did not become public until the final phase of the inquiry when passengers reported facing hours of questioning in March from inspectors.
The interviewed passengers said the questioning by inspectors suggested the flight had faced a serious situation. Some federal officials have dismissed the incident and suggested passengers had overreacted and were never in danger.
Annie Jacobsen, a passenger on Northwest Flight 327 who blew the whistle on the incident, said she felt "vindicated and relieved" after learning the investigation had been ongoing since July.
She consented to an interview, the last scheduled by the inspector's office, three days before the due date of her second child. "I really wanted to hear what they had to say, and as I told them, I have absolutely nothing to hide."
Mrs. Jacobsen, a writer for, said the 14 men traveling as musicians consecutively filed in and out of restrooms, stood nearly the entire flight in congregations, carried a McDonald's bag into the lavatory and passed it to other Syrians, and carried cameras and cellular phones to the restroom.
Just before landing, seven of the men stood in unison and went inside the restrooms. Upon returning to his seat, the last man mouthed the word "no" as he ran his finger across his throat.
At least four other passengers also were questioned, and learned from inspectors that the musicians from the terrorist-sponsor state of Syria had traveled back and forth across the country with one-way, cash-paid tickets, and entered the country on P-3 cultural visas. Two months prior to the flight, the FBI issued a warning that terrorists may be trying to enter the country under P-3 cultural or sports visas.
When the men were detained briefly for questioning after the flight, only two of the 14 were questioned and officials did not notice the men's visas had expired, inspectors said.
Dave Adams, spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service, said the inspector general's office is "looking at all aspects of the flight" and confirmed marshals aboard the flight had been interviewed.
"I've said publicly our federal air marshals acted appropriately on that flight, other than that, I'm not going to make any more comments on that," Mr. Adams said.
Mr. Adams initially dismissed Mrs. Jacobsen's account as coming from "untrained civilian eyes," in spite of other passenger reports backing her account.
Inspectors also confirmed to Mrs. Jacobsen that September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta was on a flight prior to that attack with actor James Woods, who reported to the pilot he believed a hijacking was about to take place. Mr. Woods has recounted that incident to reporters, but it has never been substantiated by law enforcement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

RCMP warns of remote-control bombs risk

Could become terror weapon

Stewart Bell
National Post

An RCMP intelligence report says more than 90 incidents involving remote-controlled explosive devices have been recorded in Canada since 1993 and warns police must be prepared for their potential use by terrorists.

Ninety-two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) rigged to detonate by remote-control were found across Canada from 1993 to 2004, it says. The figures include bombings, attempted bombings, fake bombs and the recovery of bomb components.

Remote-controlled bombs have long been a principal weapon for criminal organizations such as the Hells Angels but police are concerned that terrorists are showing increasing interest in the deadly devices.

The Irish Republican Army was the first terrorist organization to perfect the technique of electronically triggering bombs but other extremist groups have since adopted the method, notably al-Qaeda and its followers.

The al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah used a cellular phone to set off a bomb at the U.S. consulate in Bali in 2002, and cell phones were similarly used in the 2004 bombing of commuter trains in Madrid. Iraqi insurgents and pro-Taliban forces in Afghanistan have made extensive use of such bombs, which "have the benefit to the perpetrator of being initiated from a standoff distance, without needing a physical link to the device, and affording not only blast survival but also increased expectation of escape from capture," the RCMP report says.

While Middle Eastern terrorists are best known for their suicide vests and truck bombs, "many of the devices delivered by martyr or by vehicle are also remote detonated or have a remote detonation backup," it adds.

The report, Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices, was written by the RCMP's Criminal Analysis Branch and a de-classified copy was released to the National Post under the Access to Information Act.

Canadian security agencies have been on the alert for terrorist bomb attempts since Osama bin Laden called for attacks against Canada in 2002. Since then, Canadian police and intelligence have found what they believe are incidents of target scouting by terrorist operatives.

In addition, a list of Canadian targets, most of them in Ontario, was found in the pocket of an al-Qaeda member captured in Pakistan in 2003. The targets of interest to al-Qaeda in Canada include mass transit, financial buildings and shopping malls.

"All RCMP members need to be aware of the capabilities of explosives in order to properly respond to suspicious packages and situations and to recognize the materials used in the construction of IEDs and detonators," it says. "They also need to remain current on the latest technology being employed in the construction of explosive devices."

The report says such bombings tend to be planned months or even years in advance, giving police the opportunity to detect and disrupt the plots. "However, this is only true if adequate information collection and analysis skills and processes are in place."

Another way to prevent such attacks is by using jamming devices that interfere with radio signals. Signal jamming has been credited with saving the life of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who escaped an assassination attempt in December, 2003. A jamming device in his car delayed the remote-controlled bomb until his motorcade had passed.

Among some of the incidents in Canada involved remote-controlled bombs: In 1995, 11-year-old Daniel Desrochers was killed in Montreal when a Jeep was bombed as part of an ongoing gang turf war; three teens were arrested in Gatineau, Que., in 1999 as they were about to detonate a powerful pipe bomb they built using instructions on the Internet; in 1993, a pipe bomb bomb was spotted attached to the undercarriage a car in Montreal and was defused.

© National Post 2005

Monday, April 25, 2005

Washington Finally Gets It on Radical Islam

by Daniel Pipes

Does the Bush administration really believe, as its leadership has kept repeating since right after 9/11, that Islam is a "religion of peace" not connected to the problem of terrorism? Plenty of indications suggested that it knew better, but year after year the official line remained the same. From the outside, it seemed that officialdom was engaged in active self-delusion.

In fact, things were better than they seemed, as David E. Kaplan establishes in an important investigation in U.S. News & World Report, based on over 100 interviews and the review of a dozen internal documents. Earlier arguments over the nature of the enemy – terrorism vs. radical Islam – have been resolved: America's highest officials widely agree that the country's "greatest ideological foe is a highly politicized form of radical Islam and that Washington and its allies cannot afford to stand by" as it gains in strength. To fight this ideology, the U.S. government now promotes a non-radical interpretation of Islam.

In "Hearts, Minds, and Dollars: In an Unseen Front in the War on Terrorism, America is Spending Millions to Change the Very Face of Islam," dated today, Kaplan explains that Washington recognizes it has a security interest not just within the Muslim world but within Islam. Therefore, it must engage in shaping the very religion of Islam. Washington has focused on the root causes of terrorism – not poverty or U.S. foreign policy, but a compelling political ideology.

A key document in reaching this conclusion was the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, issued by the White House in February 2003, which served as the basis for the bolder, more detailed, Muslim World Outreach, completed in mid-2004 and now the authoritative guide. (A government discussion of this topic, dating from August 2004, is available online.) The U.S. government, being a secular and predominantly non-Muslim institution, faces many limitations in what is at base a religious dispute, so it turns to Muslim organizations that share its goals, including governments, foundations, and nonprofit groups.

The tactics for fighting radical Islam and promoting moderate Islam vary from one government department to another: it's covert operations at the CIA, psyops at the Pentagon, and public diplomacy at the State Department. Whatever the name and approach, the common element is to encourage the benign evolution of Islam. Toward this end, the U.S. government, Kaplan writes, "has embarked on a campaign of political warfare unmatched since the height of the Cold War." The goal is:

to influence not only Muslim societies but Islam itself…Although U.S. officials say they are wary of being drawn into a theological battle, many have concluded that America can no longer sit on the sidelines as radicals and moderates fight over the future of a politicized religion with over a billion followers. The result has been an extraordinary—and growing—effort to influence what officials describe as an Islamic reformation.

In at least two dozen countries, Kaplan writes:

Washington has quietly funded Islamic radio and TV shows, coursework in Muslim schools, Muslim think tanks, political workshops, or other programs that promote moderate Islam. Federal aid is going to restore mosques, save ancient Korans, even build Islamic schools…individual CIA stations overseas are making some gutsy and innovative moves. Among them: pouring money into neutralizing militant, anti-U.S. preachers and recruiters. "If you found out that Mullah Omar is on one street corner doing this, you set up Mullah Bradley on the other street corner to counter it," explains one recently retired official. In more-serious cases, he says, recruiters would be captured and "interrogated." Intelligence operatives have set up bogus jihad websites and targeted the Arab news media.

In all, various agencies of the U.S. government are active in this Islamic activity in at least 24 countries. Projects include:

the restoration of historic mosques in Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. In Kirgizstan, embassy funding helped restore a major Sufi shrine. In Uzbekistan, money has gone to preserve antique Islamic manuscripts, including 20 Korans, some dating to the 11th century. In Bangladesh, USAID is training mosque leaders on development issues. In Madagascar, the embassy even sponsored an intermosque sports tournament. Also being funded: Islamic media of all sorts, from book translations to radio and TV in at least a half-dozen nations.

Madrassahs, or Islamic schools, are a particular concern, for these train the next generation of jihadis and terrorists. Washington deploys several tactics to counter their influence:

In Pakistan, U.S. funds go discreetly to third parties to train madrassah teachers to add practical subjects (math, science, and health) to their curriculum, as well as civics classes. A "model madrassah" program that may eventually include more than a thousand schools is also now underway.

In the Horn of Africa (defined by the Pentagon as Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen), the U.S. military finds out where Islamists plan to start a madrassah, then builds a public school in direct competition with it.

In Uganda, the U.S. embassy has signed three grant awards to fund the construction of three elementary-level madrassahs.

Kaplan quotes one American terrorism analyst saying, "We're in the madrassah business." But not all aid has an explicit Islamic theme. American money is partially funding a satellite version of the Sesame Street in Arabic stressing the need for religious tolerance.

Funds for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has nearly tripled, to more than $21 billion; and of this, more than half goes to the Muslim world. In addition to the familiar economic development programs, political projects involving Islamic groups, such as political training and media funding, are moving to the forefront. Spending on public diplomacy by the State Department has risen by nearly half since 9/11, to nearly $1.3 billion, with more expected. This largess has funded, among other programs, the Arabic-language Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. Despite many complaints, Kaplan says they are showing signs of success. Plans ahead include making Alhurra available in Europe, and expanding programming in Persian and other key languages.


1. Working to change how Muslims understand their religion, of course, raises some difficult implications. It is one thing to want to help moderate Muslims and quite another to locate them. As I noted in "Identifying Moderate Muslims," there is great confusion over who really is a moderate Muslim and the U.S. government so far has a terrible record in this regard. I sure hope those implementing the Muslim World Outreach agenda are engaging in the necessary research to get it right.

2. The possibility exists that U.S. taxpayer dollars funding Islamic media, schools, and mosques will beef up their capabilities, for influencing Islam and promoting Islam are easily melded, especially given the pro-Islamic attitudes of American political leaders. (For this reason I have criticized the building of a mosque in Iraq and madrassahs in Indonesia.) To promote Islam contravenes the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion") and one constitutional expert, Herman Schwartz, deems the sponsorship of Islamic institutions to be "probably unconstitutional." This again points to the need for extreme care.

3. I heartily endorse the Muslim World Outreach approach; this is hardly surprising, for it closely aligns with my own recommendations. Here are excerpts from my January 2002 article, "Who Is the Enemy?":

The United States, an overwhelmingly non-Muslim country, obviously cannot fix the problems of the Muslim world. … But outsiders, and the United States in particular, can critically help in precipitating the battle and in influencing its outcome. They can do so both by weakening the militant side and by helping the moderate one…Weakening militant Islam will require an imaginative and assertive policy, one tailored to the needs of each country.

But let us not delude ourselves. If the United States has over 100 million Islamist enemies (not to speak of an even larger number of Muslims who wish us ill on assorted other grounds), they cannot all be incapacitated. Instead, the goal must be to deter and contain them…That is where the moderate Muslims come in. If roughly half the population across the Muslim world hates America, the other half does not. Unfortunately, they are disarmed, in disarray, and nearly voiceless. But the United States does not need them for their power. It needs them for their ideas and for the legitimacy they confer, and in these respects their strengths exactly complement Washington's.…

[T]he U.S. role is less to offer its own views than to help those Muslims with compatible views, especially on such issues as relations with non-Muslims, modernization, and the rights of women and minorities. This means helping moderates get their ideas out on U.S.-funded radio stations like the newly-created Radio Free Afghanistan and, as Paula Dobriansky, the Undersecretary of State for global affairs, has suggested, making sure that tolerant Islamic figures—scholars, imams, and others—are included in U.S.-funded academic- and cultural-exchange programs.

4. It is very good that David Kaplan has made available the outlines of Washington's efforts to fix Islam. This is a project too large for the government alone to work on; the body politic as a whole needs to argue it out.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?