Not So Holy After All
by Stephen Schwartz
LAST WEEK President Bush made a long-overdue decision. He ordered the closing of the Holy Land Foundation, a front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, headquartered in Richardson, Texas, with branch offices in Paterson, N.J., Bridgeview, Ill., and San Diego. The Holy War Foundation would be more like it.
Established in 1989, the Holy Land Foundation took off when it received a $200,000 cash infusion from Mousa Abu Marzook, who once lived in the United States but was deported in 1997 and has resided in the Middle East since. Marzook is a Hamas leader and the brother-in-law of Ghassan Elashi, chairman of the Holy Land Foundation.
Federal authorities have been watching the foundation since 1996, and concerned American Muslims have denounced its activities on numerous occasions. The Holy Land Foundation has been more than a fund-raising arm of those who organize suicide bombings in Israel. It has been the nerve center of the radical Islamist organizational structure in the United States, manipulating a network of interlocking groups.
On September 5, 2001, less than a week before the World Trade Center atrocities, federal anti-terrorism agents raided InfoCom Corporation, the company that ran the Holy Land Foundation website. The InfoCom connection is crucial to understanding relations between the various components of the Islamic extremist conspiracy. According to defectors from Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation web server was also used by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Association for Palestine, and other terrorist apologists on our soil. All of these groups shared a single administrative and technical contact for the maintenance of the server.
This enterprise resembles the front activities long maintained by the Communist party: separate groups, none of them directly identified with Hamas, each crafted to appeal to a particular constituency. Their methods and rhetoric are devious and deceptive.
They do not run candidates in U.S. elections on a pro-Hamas ticket. Rather, they work behind the scenes to demand special consideration for their agenda by media and government. They do not propose political discussion or interfaith dialogue. Rather, they stress "sensitivity" to "Muslim feelings." They do not make open claims for Muslim causes. Rather, they complain about injuries allegedly done to Muslims, which must be recognized and apologized for before any dialogue takes place. They purport to know the feelings of all Muslims, and arrogate to themselves the right to speak for all Muslims. Further, they recognize no diversity within Islam; for them there is one Islam and they are it, and their goal is to make sure that any examination of Islamic issues, from the White House down, begins and ends with them. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, they had extraordinary success in achieving this goal.
These groups appear independent of one another, but all of them draw from the common financial and technical pool at the Holy Land Foundation. They do not disagree or compete; they are diverse "shops" offering identical ideological content. CAIR's task has been to penetrate and pressure the American media. The job of ISNA is to control the mosques. The American Muslim Council pretends to engage in interfaith relations with Christians and Jews. The Islamic Institute (with the backing of consultant Grover Norquist) serves as a bridge to conservative Republicans, while the Muslim Public Affairs Council pursues public-policy lobbying. The network has also infiltrated the Muslim Students Association, which targets campuses.
Even after September 11 and the horrors unleashed in Israel at the beginning of December, few Americans fully recognize what Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation represent. In addition to defending suicide bombers, the foundation pays annuities to the children of such "martyrs." And it supports the Muslim clerics whose fatwas declare that, since all children are, by Islamic legal definition, innocent, Jewish children slain at the hands of the bombers are guaranteed entry into Paradise. These fatwas advance the same claim for other innocents, Muslim or Christian, accidentally killed in the attacks: These too are "involuntary martyrs" headed for paradise. This hideous doctrine rationalizing terrorism is a pure expression of the Wahhabi totalitarianism emanating from Saudi Arabia.
Originally, the Holy Land Foundation did not openly fly the Palestinian banner. Its literature and website nowhere identified it clearly as Christian or Muslim. According to the defectors, this was an intentional gambit, aimed at fleecing contributors who would not normally contribute to Palestinian militants, especially militants clearly aligned with terrorism.
More recently, the foundation has embraced the identity of an Islamic charity, and this religious cover has given the group and its satellites a fund-raising appeal far exceeding that of any earlier Arab advocacy group. As we now know, purported charitable or relief organizations based in Saudi Arabia have funded Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda cadres. And the same cover is also used by those who recruit American Muslims like the ill-fated John Walker, the jihad fighter from California found in the cellar at the Qalaj Janghi prison in northern Afghanistan.
The Bush administration has taken a major step in moving against the Holy Land Foundation, one of the central components of an extremist conspiracy that deserves to be fully investigated and unmasked.
Related Topics: Muslim-Christian Relations, Muslim-Jewish Relations, Terrorism, Wahhabism receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free center for islamic pluralism mailing list
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