Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Congressman and aspiring Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman*, has managed to thrive politically for years in spite of a long history of radical associations and problematic statements. However, words can only persuade so deeply. For many Ellison supporters, it may require images for the disturbing truth of Ellison's core convictions to resonate.
And that's just what was provided to Islamist Watch, a series of six photographs uploaded to Facebook, which we now share with you.
1. BFFs in Cairo
In September 2011 Ellison visited Cairo, where he went to several of the key sites for the Egyptian Arab Spring. His guides were two officials from the Islamist organization the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR): Ahmed Rehab, director of CAIR-Chicago; and the terrorist-supporting former director of CAIR-Tampa, Ahmed Bedier, who christened the congressman "My BFF" – or "Best Friend Forever" for those unversed in the lingo of teenage girls.
2. Arm-In-Arm With a Terror Apologist
Reacting to Steven Spielberg's movie Munich, about the hunt for the Black September perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Massacre, Bedier said:
"The only difference between what these so-called Mossad-sponsored assassins and other terrorists – they both use the similar means. They make bombs and they blow up people and they kill innocent civilians in the meantime."
3. Islamists Pointing the Way for Democrats in the Middle East
During the 2009 barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, Bedier scoffed at demands that the Hamas or Palestinian Authority leadership stop the rockets. "So Israel with its mighty army, the strongest army and military, with its biggest weapons in the whole region cannot stop the rockets, but you expect defenseless, helpless poverty stricken Palestinians to go and stop the rockets. Are you making any sense?" (Apparently, Bedier wants us to think that the rockets were just firing themselves...)
4. Moral confusion in the streets
Bedier was at his most duplicitous when he was defending terror financier Sami al-Arian, the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). When asked by Tampa interviewer Kathy Fountain if it was immoral for al-Arian to associate with PIJ, Bedier answered "To a certain degree. Now, before 1995 there was nothing immoral about it." PIJ's first attack on civilians was in 1989—and that would only be the first of many. And there is nothing special about 1995 to excuse al-Arian's involvement before that date.
In 2006, once al-Arian pled guilty to terror-related charges, Bedier contradicted al-Arian's lawyer and flatly denied that the guilty plea was related to terrorism: "There is no conspiracy to support terrorism." He used the same tactic of brazen deceit to excuse terror suspect Ahmed Mohamed in 2007, saying, "No acts of terrorism are alleged; that is not even an issue." (Mohamed had taken video of himself detonating remote-controlled bombs, and would plead guilty of providing material support to terrorists the following year.)
5. Just because a man wears a suit and tie don't assume he won't advocate stoning people to death
When he's not making excuses for terrorism, Bedier is doing the same for Islamist regimes that still employ the medieval practice of stoning women for adultery. After a documentary airing in August 2007 (Islam vs. Islamists) showed a woman being stoned to death, Bedier responded,
"Now, obviously the images we saw there, we don't know the circumstances of who is being stoned, how long ago these images were. But if you just look at the religious text itself, when it comes to adultery, the punishment is on both men and women. That's number 1. The second thing is, in order to convict someone on adultery, you have to have four eyewitnesses - who witnessed the actual intercourse happening. So you have to be like a porn star to get convicted."
He also claimed that "It's definitely not government sanctioned ...that punishment is not carried out these days. You never hear about it." (Amnesty International would beg to differ.)
6. Hamas' Lemonade Salesman
In 2008 Bedier described his approach to activism and how he sees pro-Israel groups:
"[L]obbying and advocacy is like sales. You wanna sell a product you have to sell it. Nobody is going to come buy your product just because you have it if nobody knows about it ... AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and some of these other groups that are raising money to advocate for their position, their pro-Israel position, are having to spend millions and millions of dollars to be able to sell a shady product. They're selling a lemon, they're selling the worst product in the world."
It's clear that Keith Ellison has an odd taste in BFFs. Next time he visits Cairo, he might just want to hire a local tour guide instead.
*UPDATE: Today Ellison lost the DNC chairmanship race to former Obama labor secretary Tom Perez. Perez's first act was to name Ellison the deputy chair.
David M. Swindle is the coordinator of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle and also @Islamist_watch.