Rod Dreher: Holy Land trial revealed a covert Islamist agenda

Holy Land Foundation trial was a disaster, but it did reveal a dangerous and covert Islamist agenda behind some Muslim organizations

09:22 AM CDT on Sunday, October 28, 2007

What an embarrassment the Holy Land Foundation mistrial was. Yes, it was a disappointment for us who wanted to see that Hamas-loving bunch convicted. But no matter which side you were on, the jury's deadlock and post-trial revelations of utter cluelessness made our system look shabby and pathetic.

Trial observers had noted all along that some jury members appeared to be as glazed and placid as a box of Krispy Kremes. At least one repeatedly dozed off. After the trial ended, frustrated juror William Neal, who voted to acquit the defendants, revealed that only a handful bothered to discuss the evidence in deliberations, and that one clod spent her time snacking and napping, as if, in Mr. Neal's words, "this was her vacation."

Think about that. The U.S. government's signature terrorist financing trial – the culmination of 15 years of investigation – depended on people like that woman. The defendants' freedom and their families' welfare depended on people like her. Like I said, an embarrassment.

But the trial – which, don't forget, did not produce an exoneration for most defendants – was by no means a wash. Despite the absence of verdict, what emerged was highly valuable and deeply damaging evidence that the radical Muslim Brotherhood is the guiding light behind the U.S. Muslim community's leadership. It is impossible for any intellectually responsible person to regard as positive or even benign organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim American Society or others who presume to speak on behalf of all American Muslims.

As Douglas Farah, the former Washington Post reporter who now works as a counterterrorism consultant for the nonprofit Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation, put it after the Holy Land verdict, the evidence shows "definitive proof that CAIR, ISNA, ICNA and all the Muslim Brotherhood groups in this country came here with a markedly different purpose from what they claim, and they have gone through decades of deceit to conceal their true identities and purposes."

(For an eye-opening look at government evidence from the Holy Land trial, including the infamous Muslim Brotherhood "general strategic memo" outlining the organization's strategy to use front groups to wage a "civilization-jihad" against the West, see www.nefa foundation.org/hlfdocs.html).

But don't take it from an infidel. Earlier this month in Washington, a handful of prominent Muslims gathered to explain to an American audience why the Muslim Brotherhood was a clear and present danger both to American Muslims and the nation. Naser Khader, a Muslim parliamentarian from Denmark living under death threat for speaking out against Islamic radicals, even called U.S. government officials "useful idiots" for continuing to succor extremists.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928 and dedicated to promoting a worldwide Islamic state, now exists in at least 70 nations. Boston University professor Husain Haqqani told the conference that the Brotherhood established itself in the U.S. when Muslims began coming here in significant numbers to work and study in the 1950s and 1960s. Those immigrants needed mosques and other services. The Brotherhood saw an opportunity – as did the Saudis, who funded its missionary work in America.

One of the most important things the Brotherhood did back then, Mr. Haqqani explained, was translate key radical Islamic texts into a wide range of languages and make them available to mosques and Islamic centers across America. When the foreignness of American life understandably prompted ordinary Muslims to reconnect with their faith, the version of Islam on offer at local Islamic institutions was a radical one.

Moreover, Brotherhood members came together in those early days and founded the core of what would evolve into the major U.S. Muslim organizations. The Brotherhood has long pursued a strategy of realizing its radical goals not through violence but through participation in civil society – a "march through the institutions" approach to Islamic revolution. Today, Mr. Haqqani said, most American mosques and Muslim organizations are controlled by the well-financed Brotherhood, which is in a position to define Islam in this country – and to marginalize Muslims who dissent.

All of this is taking place in full view of an uncritical and incurious government, academia and news media, said the scholar, all of whom effectively accept the Brotherhood's highly politicized version of Islam as normative. American naiveté even led the government to bring radical Islamic leaders to this country on a speaking tour in the 1970s, thinking anybody who was anti-communist was America's friend. These leaders actually exhorted American Muslims to prepare themselves for the coming conflict between the decadent West and Islam – right under our noses, on the taxpayers' dime.

Turkish-born Zeyno Baran, a Hudson Institute scholar who advises the Pentagon and other federal agencies, called the Brotherhood affiliates "a fifth column of activists working to undermine the foundation of America." Ms. Baran, a Muslim who defends democratic secularism, blasted the U.S. government for working with CAIR, ISNA and the rest, saying official recognition legitimizes these groups among the wider Muslim community.

One cost of the American mainstream's refusal to call out these front groups, she warned, is giving carte blanche to Islamists who want to quietly radicalize all American Muslims, starting with students. If we want to avoid the kind of social conflict tearing up Britain, Ms. Baran said, we must wake up and challenge these closet Islamists publicly and not fall for their rhetoric of victimization.

This nation is at the beginning of a long and complicated struggle with the Islamic radical enemy. We will make fewer mistakes if we have clarity about the true nature of the threat – and know who our real allies are.

Well-informed Muslims like Husain Haqqani, Zeyno Baran and Naser Khader are taking enormous risks to warn the West. We would do well to listen to them – and to heed the larger lesson of the aborted Holy Land trial.

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