The terror attacks on America could not have taken place without a sophisticated infrastructure of agents operating inside the United States that gathered information, planned, and then executed the four hijackings. That infrastructure, in turn, could operate thanks in large part to the protection provided by America's militant Islamic lobby.
The militant Islamic lobby impeded law enforcement's ability to devote special attention to Middle Eastern passengers, a procedure that surely would have caught the four suicide teams. The lobby also forestalled the closing down of Web sites and the expulsion of foreigners associated with terrorist organizations like Osama bin Laden's.
Which raises a question: How could a lobby protecting violent extremists acquire such influence? It has very carefully covered its tracks - saying one thing in private and another in public. To see how this duality works, consider the case of American Muslims for Jerusalem.
This certainly appears to be a moderate organization. Founded in May 1999 and located near Capitol Hill, AMJ portrays itself as an innocent "association dedicated to providing a Muslim perspective on the issue of Jerusalem" and it movingly appeals for "a Jerusalem that symbolizes religious tolerance and dialogue." AMJ notes "the profound attachment Muslims have to Jerusalem" and reasonably calls for free access by all to the city's religious sites.
Only somewhat more assertively does it repeat standard Palestinian rhetoric about the inadmissibility of sovereignty gained through force, the imperative to stop the building of Jewish housing, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. So tame is AMJ's public stance that it does not repeat the usual Palestinian claim to Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine, much less does it deny Jewish ties to Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, this public moderation hides a totally different private discourse.
At its closed events, AMJ reveals its true colors, purveying precisely the kind of hate that might inspire a suicide hijacker.
The pattern was set at AMJ's first major event, a fundraising dinner in November 1999, which one participant has described as "crudely anti-Jewish." Speakers like Nihad Awad and Abdurahman Alamoudi vied with one another in verbally assaulting the State of Israel and American Jews. In particular, they spun an elaborate conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the United States and Zionist brainwashing of American Christians.
Those Christians, AMJ speakers insisted, are now ready to rebel against this alleged Jewish domination - except that they fear going public out of fright of their Jewish "masters." Here Muslims have a crucial role in encouraging Christians to rise up to end their subjugation. Only a united Muslim-Christian front, led by Muslims, can break the supposed Zionist lock on America.
The dinner's keynote speaker, Issa Nakhleh of the Arab Supreme Council for Palestine (himself a Christian), proposed a specific scheme for achieving this goal. By his (fanciful) calculations, the Israel lobby spends $20 million a year to buy members of Congress and have them impose the "Jewish" message on Christians. Arabs and Muslims can easily do better, Nakhleh suggested, by sending fundraising delegations to Saudi Arabia and the emirates. "I am sure you will get $10 million from these two, and Iran will give you $10 million," thereby surpassing the supposed pro-Israel funding. (Never mind that it is illegal to lobby Congress with money that comes from abroad).
The evening's excess of inaccuracy, misunderstanding, conspiracy theorizing, fanaticism, and illegality is all the more noteworthy, because American Muslims for Jerusalem is no fringe outfit but a joint effort sponsored by six of the most powerful American Islamic institutions, including those most often invited to the White House and cited by the media. AMJ itself has won signal victories lobbying such American corporations as Burger King and Disney.
The covert radicalism of American Muslim organizations has two implications. First, AMJ and its six sponsoring organizations must all be systematically excluded and marginalized. Government and corporate policymakers should not meet with them. The media should not quote them as authorities. Immigration officials should study closely whom they invite from abroad. Tax authorities should scour their books for illegal transactions. Religious leaders should exclude them from ecumenical events.
Second, moderate Muslim Americans need to organize themselves and repudiate organizations like AMJ and its ilk. This task will likely become even more urgent as those organizations' role in easing the way for last week's terrorism is fully revealed.