The indictment of eight people on racketeering charges for allegedly financing and supporting homicide bombers in Israel is an important first step on a very long road.
The indictment charges that Palestinian Islamic Jihad - which the United States has officially designated as a terrorist organization - has been deeply entrenched in the United States for more than two decades and that it has used American academic and fund-raising groups as fronts for operations that have been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people, including Americans, in the Middle East, mostly in Israel. Thirty-six of the total have been murdered since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993. These are the first-ever indictments of Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Americans and are welcome after years of inaction by the State Department.
Four of the alleged terrorists have been arrested in the United States, including the suspended University of South Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian. Another lives in Oxfordshire, England, and his extradition to the United States will be sought. The remaining three are sheltered by Arab regimes.
The indictments resulted from the new level of cooperation between previously competing federal agencies made possible by the USA Patriot Act and the recently expanded powers given to Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department.
The New Republic and the National Journal are among several publications that have exposed the intricate web of Islamic groups operating under false pretenses in this country. These and other journals have also reported on the efforts of some Republican activists to persuade certain White House officials of their need to target American Muslims as a potential voting bloc. Prior to 9/11, the lobbying groups active on behalf of Muslim organizations had seen this Republican outreach effort as an opportunity to re-direct U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in a more pro-Arab and pro-Muslim direction.
It is worth noting that Al-Arian is president of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF). Other members of the NCPPF (and the organizations to which they've been linked) include the American Muslim Council (Hamas and Hezbollah), Committee for Justice for Nasser Ahmen (Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda), Committee for the Support of Revolution in Peru (Shining Path), friends of Noel Cassidy (Provisional Irish Republican Army), National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (Communist Party USA), National Islamic Prison Foundation (Hamas, Hezbollah), Center for Constitutional Rights (legal defense of a variety of terrorist groups). There are many more.
The Bush administration has been careful to separate the terrorists from Muslims generally. The problem is he has done so in the company of some Muslim leaders who do not preach or practice what the president says they do.
As the New Republic reported in its Nov. 7, 2001, issue, on the afternoon of Sept. 26 of that year, the president met with 15 prominent Muslim and Arab-Americans at the White House. At that time he said, "The teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good. " Writer Franklin Foer noted that many of the leaders had not unambiguously rejected terror as the president suggested. "To the president's left sat Dr. Yahya Basha, president of the American Muslim Council, an organization whose leaders have repeatedly called Hamas'freedom fighters.' Also in attendance was Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who on the afternoon of Sept. 11 told a Los Angeles public radio audience that'we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list.' And sitting right next to President Bush was Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Islamic Society of North America, who (in the fall of 2000) told a Washington crowd chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans,'America has to learn if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. "'
Some will claim this is guilt by association. It is more like an association of the guilty. Large numbers of such people have invaded this nation through immigration, intent on causing us harm. The Justice Department is right to find them, root them out and arrest or deport them. The sooner, the better - before they can do more damage to our nation and our people.