Cheney to host pro-terrorist Muslim group
By Melissa Radler
NEW YORK (June 22) - The White House and Vice President Dick Cheney are hosting a Muslim organization whose leaders have voiced support for Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as calling for "death to the Jews."
Representatives from the American Muslim Council (AMC), which has also outraged anti-slavery activists by calling slavery in the Sudan a "sham," are meeting with Cheney this morning at the White House for a briefing on the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policies of interest to the American Muslim community, according to an AMC release. "It will be the first time in the history of the AMC conventions that a US vice president will personally address an exclusive Muslim audience at the White House," the statement noted.
In October, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush returned a $1,000 campaign contribution to former AMC executive director and current secretary of the board Abdurrahman Alamoudi, due to his support for terrorist groups including Hamas. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton also returned a $1,000 contribution from Alamoudi.
Cheney's decision to address the AMC came as a surprise to Jewish leaders and terrorism experts, many of whom have viewed Bush's refusal to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat as a sign that the White House is committed to fighting terrorism and supporting a secure Israel.
According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, who has reported extensively on the Clinton administration's courting of radical Islamic groups, "This an alarming development that unfortunately legitimizes militant Islam, especially groups that support terrorism... It perpetuates a very bad precedent set by the [former president Bill] Clinton."
In press releases and statements attributed to AMC leaders, the "apartheid-like existence of the Palestinian people" is lamented and Israel is termed "a regime that does not observe any rules of morality or humanity." On June 5, the AMC called on the Bush administration to "stop aid to Israeli occupation," which they said began in 1948.
Immediately after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, the AMC cosponsored a rally in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where a member of AMC's board of advisers, Dr. Ayman Serajoudin Alouri, led the chant: "O Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming for you."
Alouri also stated: "A Jew has no morals, unless they stand up to tell the State of Israel that you are killers and there is no difference between Barak and Sharon and Hitler."
Following Sen. Clinton's decision to return AMC-related campaign contributions, Alamoudi was videotaped in front of the White House voicing his support for Hamas and Hizbullah. In January, he participated in a Beirut conference alongside leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and Osama bin-Laden's terrorist network. A communique issued by the groups called for a boycott on American and Israeli products, stating: "America today is a second Israel."
Last June, Alamoudi was quoted in the US-based publication Al-Zaitunah stating: "[AMC's] position with regard to the peace process is well-known. We are the ones who went to the White House and defended what is called Hamas."
Four days after the June 1 suicide bombing that killed 21 mostly teenage disco-goers in Tel Aviv, AMC executive director Aly Abuzakouk said during a demonstration in front of the State Department: "In all world international law, it says that people under occupation have the right to resist occupation. That's what the Palestinians are doing."
Officials at the AMC and Cheney's press office did not return calls seeking comment.
The director of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, said the AMC "is a group that represents fringe, radical views that are outside the mainstream of the political spectrum. And the leaders of this country are ill-advised to cooperate with it and thereby boost its standing."
Also concerned is Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who said the scheduled meeting "runs in the face of everything the administration supports and believes in."
The AMC has also tackled slavery in Sudan, which it says does not exist. A June 1 press release titled "Slavery in Sudan is a sham" urged Muslims to attend educational seminars refuting "the current rash of allegations and disinformation campaign against the Sudanese government," and examining "the underlying agendas behind them."
Since taking office, Bush has taken a strong stance on Sudan, where an 18-year civil war has seen more than 2 million fatalities. In addition, the country's Muslim government has enslaved some 12,000 to 15,000 Sudanese Christians and animists, according to the UN.
"We must turn the eyes of the world upon the atrocities in the Sudan" said Bush in a May 3 speech to the American Jewish Committee.
"No official should meet with any group that defends Sudan and denies the slavery there," said Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group, whose Web site on slavery in Sudan includes letters of support from Coretta Scott King, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. "The American Muslims continue to circle the wagons, that nothing any Muslim state does could be bad, which is not good for them when they say they want to be seen as any other Americans."
It remains unclear how many of the country's 6 million Muslims are represented by groups such as the AMC. According to former congressman Paul Findlay's recent book Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam, fewer than 200,000 American Muslims, or 3 percent, are active on issues taken up by these groups. "The rest... remain silently on the sideline, unsupportive even with their checkbooks," writes Findlay.