Two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, University of Florida student Raja Abdulrahim published a letter in her campus newspaper, the Independent Florida Alligator, denying that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. The Sept. 26, 2001 letter stated: “I decided to respond to Guy Golan’s letter (‘Jews must help all Arab people’) from Monday’s Alligator because he erroneously refers to Hamas and Hizbollah as ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘terror organizations’ that have ‘murdered innocent Israeli civilians.’”
As for the young Abdulrahim, the CAIR protege, she is now a reporter at the Los Angeles Times where she covers, from time to time, issues concerning terrorism and the American Muslim community. Most recently, on May 3, she reported on Muslim American community officials’ reactions to the demise of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (“Experts hope it’s ‘a new era’ for Muslim Americans”).
Given her apologist history for Islamist terror (more examples can be seen here), it’s no surprise that Abdulrahim now covers up support for terrorism among certain American Muslim leaders. She casts Muslim American leaders, including her one-time CAIR benefactors, as hapless victims of unfounded bigotry:
The attacks unleashed by Bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001, were a disaster in many ways for American Muslims, who suddenly feared the sort of broad-based suspicion that fell on Japanese Americans during World War II and German Americans during World War I. It was compounded by what some critics viewed as hesitance by Muslim American leaders to adequately denounce terrorism – a charge that the leaders denied, but to little avail.
Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that American Muslims experienced nothing approaching the horror suffered by Japanese Americans forced into internment camps. Furthermore, we will not dwell on the fact that in 2002, the year after the 9/11 attacks, Jews were targeted in hate crimes in nearly 10 times more incidents than Muslims. According to the FBI’s 2002 Hate Crimes Report, Jews were targeted in 1,426 hate incidents, and Muslims were targeted in 155 incidents.
What’s most jarring about this excerpt is that contrary to Abdulrahim, the concerns of critics extended far beyond a so-called “hesitance by Muslim American leaders to adequately denounce terrorism.” The “critics,” among them law enforcement officials and the Justice Department, built the case that a number of Muslim American leaders supported international terrorism.
But, Abdulrahim, the University of Florida graduate who once wrote that “these suicide bombers who feel they have nothing else they can do to defend their land and people,” is loyally mute about CAIR’s status as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism funding trial.
Indeed, she quotes a CAIR official who promotes the idea of Muslim American victimhood, and is mum about the organization’s terror links. She writes:
“Realistically speaking, I don’t think we will be witnessing any real change in the anti-Muslim rhetoric in America,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the L.A. branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “because it is being pushed by those who use deliberate misinformation, and that is not going to disappear with the disappearance of Bin Laden.”
It is CAIR which is spreading misinformation, and Abdulrahim is a well-positioned ready accomplice. In January 2009, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that the FBI severed its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked CAIR. As the IPT noted:
CAIR and its chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, were named un-indicted co-conspirators in the HLF case. Both Ahmad and CAIR’s current national executive director, Nihad Awad, were revealed on government wiretaps as having been active participants in early Hamas-related organizational meetings in the United States. During testimony, FBI agent Lara Burns described CAIR as a front organization
She gives the same laundering treatment to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), quoting a local leader but ignoring the organizations’ problematic positions and affiliations. She writes:
“Bin Laden was symbolic,” said Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council. “And the fact that he’s eliminated is a symbolic victory for all of us.”
But one current MPAC official was singing a very different tune one year after Al Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 301 people and wounding more than 5,000. Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s director of policy and programming, was a managing editor of Al-Talib: The Muslim Newsmagazine at UCLA in July 1999. At the time, the magazine ran a column stating:
When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid ……, Osama bin Laden, as a “terrorist,” we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allah’s cause and speak out against oppressors.
Incidentally, CAIR, and specifically the aforementioned Hussam Ayloush, is also directly tied to the issue of Al-Talib praising Bin Laden. As Daniel Pipes wrote: “that July 1999 Al-Talib masthead also conveys ‘special thanks’ to Hussam Ayloush, long-time head of its southern California office.” Indeed, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, MPAC, CAIR and the Muslim Students Association, which publishes Al-Talib, have all been identified in U.S. court documents as part of the American Muslim Brotherhood, and are therefore all interrelated.
Abdulrahim also quotes Dr. Maher Hathout, “a retired cardiologist and longtime Muslim leader in Los Angeles who hailed the assassination of Bin Laden, saying that ‘our planet will be a better place,’ without him.” But Dr. Hathout’s record about the 9/11 terror attacks is now inconvenient for him. As the Investigative Project reports,
days after the 9/11 attacks, Hathout encouraged a conspiracy theory that the hijackers’ identities were being falsified. During a chat at the IslamOnline website, a writer claimed one hijacker was alive and well while a second had been dead for more than a year. Hathout praised the writer for “providing unique information that needs to be more known and verified. Please call the Minaret magazine.
The Investigative Project also reports that Hathout has also cited Hassan al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, as a reformist.
Abdulrahim and Lekovic’s careers share an interesting parallel. As students, both were tied to journalistic expressions of support for terror. In both cases, their early support for terrorism appears not to have harmed their careers. For Lekovic, this is a given. She appropriately went on to work for MPAC.
Adbulrahim’s position at the Los Angeles Times is more troubling, as first illustrated by a May 2009 article, in which Abdulrahim covered up for Sami al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor who was convicted of providing services for Islamic Jihad.
A mainstream American news organization should not employ an apologist for Islamic terrorism to write about issues pertaining to Islamic terrorism. Nor should it allow a reporter who once received a scholarship from CAIR to write about CAIR without disclosing that connection. Can the Los Angeles Times spell “conflict of interest”?