About Talking Tachlis

Friday, January 7, 2011


Local Muslim organizations will be rolling out the red carpet for Feisal Abdul Rauf’s upcoming trip to Detroit next Saturday, January 15, to keynote the Diversity Forum Banquet hosted by the Islamic Society of North America, but the high-profile imam  behind the controversial Ground Zero Mosque will not be getting a hero’s welcome by all.  A coalition of 9/11 families and organizations opposed to Rauf’s plans will also be making Detroit the first stop of their campaign to generate national media attention and opposition to pre-empt Rauf. Rauf’s visit to Detroit is the first leg of his recently-announced cross-country PR tour that will include speaking engagements in Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and at Harvard, Georgetown, Yale and, the University of North Carolina. 
Rauf has almost become a household name because of the firestorm provoked by his proposal for the mega-moque/Islamic center at the site of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.  Rauf is launching this charm offensive to drum up support for his development and to advance his image as "moderate" statesman and "interlocutor" for interfaith bridge-building so that he can more effectively advance his grander mission of promoting shariah Islam. ISNA, the organization he is addressing, also hides beneath a veneer of moderation, but its history is anything but.
Making sure that Rauf checks not only his luggage, but his smoke and mirrors at the door upon arrival, will be a receiving line of his most vociferous challengers.  The Christian Action Network (CAN) will be unrolling the national screening of its new film, “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque” in Dearborn just a few hours before Rauf is slated to address the ISNA program.  
"If this mosque is built, it will be like 9-11 all over again for the families," CAN declares.  It promotes the film as "poignant" and "shocking." 

You'll weep with the families as they recount their last, horrifying minutes on the phone with their loved ones. You'll hear about untold acts of heroism and escape. You'll see secret, undercover footage of the radical leader of the mosque, Imam Rauf, leading services inside the mosque building. And you'll understand the true, radical agenda of those behind the mosque -- the imam, the developer, the financial backers, and the followers who are already attending Islamic services at Ground Zero

The film premiere  will begin at 5 PM at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center on Michigan Avenue across from Ford World Headquarters.  The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are required.
Moderating the event will be Martin Mawyer, president of CAN which also produced two other documentaries – “Homegrown Jihad” and “Islam Rising.”  Noted Mawyer, "We made this film so that people who were on the scene on 9/11 or lost family members in those attacks could have their say on the Ground Zero Mosque issue."
Joining CAN in a discussion panel following the screening will be Tim Brown,  retired NY firefighter who survived the 9/11 attack but lost 93 comrades in rescue operations in the collapsing Twin Towers. Also featured on the panel will be Michael Burke, the brother of Capt. Billy Burke, who initially escaped the WTC, but lost his life when he heroically decided to reenter the building to save others. Representing NYC construction workers will be Andy Sullivan, who escaped Tower 1 before it collapsed and who started the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge, a campaign of construction workers who have vowed not to work on the Ground Zero Mosque. Following the 9/11 attacks, Sullivan worked with the bucket brigade that searched for survivors and the remains of victims in the rubble.  
Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-American human rights activist, director of Former Muslims United and author of “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” (and a face familiar to metro Detroiters) is slated to appear on the panel as well.  Her challenge to Imam Rauf, “Sharia for Dummies” was published on Big Peace this past summer.  Other speakers, as yet unannounced, may join the chorus of opposition to Rauf.
It’s no surprise that Rauf chose Detroit to kick off his national blitz to garner support for his financially-teetering 13-story Cordoba House project. Dearborn/Detroit is home to the largest mosque and concentration of Muslims in America.  Registration to the ISNA banquet is open online, despite statements by Rauf's publicist, that his appearances will be closed because of "death threats he has received."

While developers for Park 51 have given muddled accounts of whether foreign sources might be part of the financing package, ABC News this summer reported that they aren't ruling out accepting financing from Iran, the largest state sponsor of global terrorism, or Saudi Arabia, the source of much global funding for international terrorism, export of Wahabbi radical Islam and bankrolling of mosques in the US (various reports indicate that up to 80 percent of American mosques are built with Saudi money).

Much has been reported about the shady dealings of the finance and moneymen behind Rauf’s scheme as well as the recently disclosed appearance of improprieties by NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration in helping fast-track the approval process for the mosque. Rauf's Park 51 Islamic Center in November applied for a $5 million federal grant from a fund targeted to rebuild lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks.   In its last public financial statement, according to the report in the Daily Beast, "Park51 was found to have less than $20,000 in the bank for a project with a slated cost of $100 million." 
On its face,  Rauf’s visit here and plans for his mosque towering over the mass grave of innocents murdered by Islamic terrorists, raise a host of thorny issues for the Jewish community.  He is the invited guest speaker of ISNA, a Muslim Brotherhood-linked unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing trial.  
Rauf is listed as a key figure in the Perdana Global Peace Organization, the Malaysian-based bankroller of the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the violent Turkish flotilla assault against Israel. According to the same NY Post report, he also has troubling ties to Hossein Mahallati, Iran's former UN ambassador and a brazen supporter of Hamas.

In a WABC radio interview, though asked three times, Rauf refused to acknowledge the US designation of Hamas as a terror organization. The Hamas charter expressly calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.
Weeks later, after a hail of criticism for his failure to condemn Hamas, Rauf came to see the PR light .When CNN's Soledad O'Brien took him to task for "dodging" the question and pinned him on the issue, he changed his tune, saying, "I condemn everyone and anyone who commits acts of terrorism. And Hamas has committed acts of terrorism."

Rauf’s  reconsideration of Hamas in the CNN interview also followed the highly-publicized endorsement of his mosque project by a leader of  Hamas who insisted that Muslims “have to build” it there.  “We have to build everywhere,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and chief of the Gaza Strip.” He is also quoted as saying that Hamas “is representing the vast majority of the Arabic and Islamic world – especially the Islamic side.”

WABC interviewer Aaron Klein noted in a piece for the Jewish Press that the NY Times improperly implied that Rauf's condemned Hamas without informing readers that it was forced by "public controversy".  Klein also claimed that the Cordoba Initiative scrubbed controversial documentaion from its website.
(More information on Rauf's background will follow in upcoming blogs.)
Much has been written about ISNA and its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, as revealed in the Brotherhood’s “Explanatory Memorandum on the General  Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” produced at the Holy Land Foundation trial.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, ISNA “maintains significant leadership ties to its foundation 28 years ago by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America” : .  Federal prosecutors included ISNA on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) case. ISNA is listed among "individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood."

And while it is trying assiduously to change its image and to outreach to the Jewish community, ISNA nonetheless promotes speakers who are toxically anti-Semitic.  At its
2009 conference, for example, one of ISNA’s panelists was Imam Warith Deen Umar, former head of the New York state prison chaplaincy program.  According to the same IPT report, Umar “managed to:
  • Argue that key Obama aides are ‘Israeli,’ proving Jews ‘have control of the world."
  • Malign the motives of Jews active in the Civil Rights movement
  • Portray the Holocaust as punishment of Jews for being ‘serially disobedient to Allah.’
Moreover, as the IPT notes, Umar wrote in a past book, Judaiology that Jews are “an amazing people who can steal you blind as you watch.”  Umar has also “previously hailed the 9/11 hijackers as martyrs who were secretly admired by Muslims.  He has called for a violent jihad,” the IPT reports. 

And at the same annual ISNA conference, according to the IPT, another featured speaker offered unchallenged defense of the designated terror group Hezbollah. This is part of a greater overall pattern, wherein ISNA conferences have featured “rhetoric in support of terrorist groups and other radicalism,”as noted in a a recent IPT profile  on ISNA president Ingrid Mattson. 

 “As a leader of a major Muslim organization in America, Mattson’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of radical Islam and her avoidance of criticism of international terrorists is very troubling.”
What is every bit as troubling is ISNA’s cultivation of influence in our Detroit Jewish community and how that is emblematic of other disturbing ties extending from our mainstream organizations to confer legitimacy to individuals and organizations whose goals are questionable, if not inimical, to the welfare and security of our community.
   ...............More to come on that as we develop our blog.....................

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