The mentality of radical Islam includes several main components, of which one is Muslim supremacism: A belief that believers alone should rule and otherwise enjoy an exalted status over non-Muslims. This outlook dominates the Islamist worldview as much in the streets of Paris as in the caves of Afghanistan.
Two recent American criminal cases highlight this attribute. Both involve the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Saudi-funded group whose leadership sometimes announces its goal to Islamize America ("Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.")
The first criminal case concerns Dale Ehrgott, a non-Muslim insurance broker living in Reno, Nev. Appalled by CAIR's record of apologizing for terrorism, plus the then-recent arrest on terrorism-related charges of its former employee Ismail Royer, Mr. Ehrgott dashed off four angry e-mails to CAIR in mid-2003.
One read: "We accept you [sic] holy war. Looking forward to it very much. We can deal with you easily especially since you are on our soil. You have taught us much about terrorism so get ready to be the receiver." In another message, some weeks later, he wrote: "You are making a lot of people angry and you idiots are sitting ducks."
"It wasn't a threat, just a nasty email," Mr. Ehrgott told The Associated Press. He described CAIR as "an anti-American organization" and pointed out that at no time did he physically intimidate it. CAIR saw matters differently and forwarded the notes to law enforcement agencies, which came down heavily on Mr. Ehrgott, perhaps because the Department of Justice decided to make an example of him.
Describing these e-mails as containing "a threat to injure members" of CAIR, the American attorney for Nevada, Daniel Bogden, convinced a federal grand jury in March 2004 to indict Mr. Ehrgott. Mr. Bogden then threw the book at Mr. Ehrgott, who, if convicted, faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
But after his September 2004 trial ended in a hung jury, the feds abruptly lost their taste for prosecuting Mr. Ehrgott. They settled with him on January 13, letting him off with a trivial sentence: One year's probation and 50 hours of community service, implicitly acknowledging that he had acted rashly but not dangerously.
The second case concerns Taiser Hosien Okashah, a Muslim food broker (and an illegal immigrant from Syria) living in Miami Beach. On June 3, 2004, Mr. Okashah threatened to destroy the Best Buy store in Plantation, Fla., because, according to the store clerk's sworn testimony, he was displeased with a rebate offer on a laptop computer. "I am going to come back and blow up this place if I do not get my money this time," the clerk quotes him as saying. On June 29, the authorities arrested Mr. Okashah, charged him with threatening to detonate an explosive, and briefly jailed him without bond.
The executive director of CAIR's Florida office, Altaf Ali, leapt to Mr. Okashah's defense. Muslims, he said, are "very concerned that a very humble member of the community, for asking a question about a rebate, can be put in jail."
Mr. Ali attributed Mr. Okashah's travails to a miscommunication exacerbated by the negative stereotyping of Muslims. A CAIR press release further specified that the arrest stemmed from "language barriers and overreactions by store employees and law enforcement officials."
Mr. Ali also sought to have the judge in the case removed because he had ordered Mr. Okashah to undergo a psychological evaluation. Nonetheless, Mr. Okashah is scheduled to go to trial on February 14 for the second-degree felony charge of "threatening to detonate an explosive device."
In CAIR's eyes, then, when a non-Muslim broker responds too emotionally to terrorism, he deserves years in jail and financial ruin. But when a Muslim broker threatens a store, he's the innocent victim of "negative stereotyping" who deserves release without any punishment at all.
The Ehrgott and Okashah incidents fit an ugly Islamist pattern of double standards. Although CAIR presents itself as a civil-rights group, it is just the opposite: An organization asserting special privileges for Muslims and derogating the rights of others.
When Western institutions grant legitimacy to Islamist organizations like CAIR, they strengthen Islamist supremacism and its drive for Muslim dominance. Those institutions need to get smart and retract that legitimacy, reserving it for Muslims who reject radical Islam.
Sep. 20, 2006 update: In a parallel case, again in Florida, CAIR again leapt to the defense of a Muslim accused of threatening to blow someone up. Here is the story of Nabil Mouad, 20, from Tampa in the St Petersburg Times today, by Justin George, "Threat case dropped: The defendant was accused of saying he would blow up USF's soccer coach."
For more than seven months, Nabil Mouad has sat in a Hillsborough County jail cell, initially isolated from the general population. Guards thought charges lodged against him could make other inmates think he was a terrorist.
But in a five-minute hearing Tuesday, a prosecutor dropped the case against Mouad, 20, accused of threatening to blow up the University of South Florida soccer coach. Behind the dismissal was the coach, George Kiefer, who didn't want the schizophrenic man to go to prison, Mouad defense attorney Lyann Goudie said.
He had been charged with threatening to discharge a destructive device and assault on a specified official or employee. "It isn't that they didn't take the threats seriously; they took the threats seriously," Goudie said of university officials. "They just didn't believe him to be a terrorist." U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement now plans to deport Mouad to Morocco, though Goudie didn't know when. His temporary visa has expired.
Mouad is Muslim. Ahmed Bedier, director of the Tampa branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said 9/11 undertones led to his prolonged jailing. Mouad was simply a young man who wanted to play professional soccer, Bedier noted, but mental illness derailed the dream. "These type of things carry heavy penalties, especially for an Arab young man," Bedier said of the charges. "We were also concerned about the added impact on the community's image, with him being a Muslim. But we're very happy. This is vindication for him and shows he wasn't showing any violent actions or terrorist behavior."