Monday, August 23, 2010

Rauf: A moderate?

New York Post
August 23, 2010

In the Ground Zero mosque debate, de fenders of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have pointed out that in 2003 the FBI brought him in to help train its agents -- so how radical could he be?

The first problem is that Rauf's "help" turned out to be worse than worthless. The bigger problem is that the FBI has a rotten record when it comes to identifying moderate Muslims -- as opposed to ones who are happy to feed non-Muslims the pabulum they're willing to swallow.

Questionable emissary: The State Department trusted Feisal Abdul Rauf (center) and sent him to the Arab Gulf last week as a goodwill ambassador, but the record raises doubts.(AP)

Start with Rauf and the FBI. He was brought into the New York field office to give at least four sessions of sensitivity training.

Speaking for about two hours each time, "he gave an overview of Islamic culture and some of the differences between what fundamentalist terrorist groups say are the teachings of the Koran and what he believes, as a student of religion, the Koran actually says," FBI New York office spokesman James Margolin told me back then.

For example, Rauf asserted that the Koran "certainly doesn't counsel terrorism, murder or mayhem," Margolin says. And he said terrorists have misinterpreted jihad to mean violent, or armed, struggle against nonbelievers. Rauf assured agents it means internal struggle.

Now, it's tricky for outsiders to say what the Koran "really" says. But Rauf's claim definitely isn't mainstream. Respected Koranic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali, for example, confirms in his venerable translation and interpretation of the Muslim holy text that jihad means advancing Islam, including by physically fighting Islam's enemies.

Yes, Rauf's mistaken interpretation matters: For starters, the false belief that terrorists have a wildly different reading of the Koran than most Muslims would make it far harder for FBI agents to understand the subtle, step-by-step radicalization process -- a process not well described by US law enforcement until the NYPD's landmark 2007 report, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat."

Of course, the Kuwait-born Rauf has to know the facts here. If he believes jihad is really just an internal struggle, then why does he refuse to condemn Hamas? (Why, for that matter, did he in late 2001 suggest that "US policies were an accessory to the crime" of 9/11?)

There's also Rauf's laughable claim that the Islamic legal code is compatible with the US Constitution.

Rauf is hardly what most of us think of as a moderate Muslim. But our government isn't great at making these distinctions. The State Department last week sent Rauf on a $16,000 goodwill tour around the Muslim world.

On top of this is the problem of Muslim preachers who speak with forked tongues. Some of the worst:

* Zaid Shakir, who appears in an anti-terror video with eight other "moderate" US imams. Shakir says, in carefully parsed language, that Islam forbids "indiscriminate" violence and the killing of "civilians."

Killing US soldiers is another story, however, as Shakir allowed in a pre-9/11 sermon on jihad to San Francisco Muslims.

"Islam doesn't permit us to hijack airplanes filled with civilian people," he told them privately in 2001. However, "if you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that's something else." He gave his blessing to bombs, too, as long as they don't hit too many civilians. And civilians are fair game if "there's a benefit in that."

"What a great victory it will be for Islam to have this country in the fold and ranks of the Muslims," sermonized Shakir, who's been portrayed as a moderate by The New York Times.

* Ali al-Timimi, the noted imam who put on a moderate face in public while secretly plotting against us.

Timimi publicly denounced Islamic violence while privately praising the 9/11 attacks. He even cheered the Columbia space-shuttle disaster as a "good omen." Timimi, who once enjoyed federal security clearance, is now behind bars for soliciting terror and treason.

* Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born imam who led Friday prayer in the US Capitol and became the media's go-to "moderate" spokesman for the Muslim community after 9/11. On the day of the attacks, he told the press: "We're totally against what the terrorists had done." Now a federally designated al Qaeda terrorist fugitive, he speaks more honestly to Americans: "9/11 was the answer of the millions of people who suffer from American aggression. You are still unsafe."

Many Muslim leaders talk about tolerance and interfaith dialogue, but behind our backs they plan our destruction. To deal with the Muslim community, we must deal with its leaders. But based on their track record of dissembling, we can't go on blindly trusting them.

Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of "Infiltration" and "Muslim Mafia."

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