Jerusalem – Steven Emerson, executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, said violent Islamist groups have directly benefited from State Department dollars. He asserted that the money has found its way into these groups hands through department-funded Islamic outreach efforts, both at home and abroad.
In July 31 testimony, Emerson urged Congress to review the State Department’s interaction with organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Palestinian American Research Center and the Islamic Society of North America and Citizen Exchange Program (ISNA). He said, in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Congress should assert greater oversight over the department due to allegations it hosts Muslims, convicted or indicted in terrorism cases.
“The question is: Why should the State Department spend U.S. taxpayer dollars to work with Islamists who actively oppose the foreign policy goals of the United States and subscribe to a supremacist, oppressive ideology?” Mr. Emerson asked during his testimony. “The fundamental question boils down to: Is the State Department using the Islamists to advance its agenda, or are the Islamists using the State Department to advance their own?”
Republican members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have expressed their own concerns over alleged State Department outreach efforts potentially involving violent groups. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John Kyl, R-Ariz., have written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to stop funding groups that support what the senators termed “a radical Islamic ideology.”
The senators cited the Islamic Society of North America, which has allegedly raised $500,000 with State Department help. Federal prosecutors in a Dallas, Texas Hamas fundraising trial alleged the group has financial and other ties to the terror group, based on declassified FBI files and internal Muslim Brotherhood files. (Hamas is an outgrowth of the Palestinian affiliate of the Egyptian-originated Muslim Brotherhood.)
ISNA has denied the documents’ authenticity.
“We are sure you would agree that Americans should not have to fund their enemies in the form of misguided ‘outreach’ efforts,” the senators asked in a letter to Ms. Rice.
The ISNA responded to Mr. Emerson’s testimony last week in advance of the hearing by asking its supporters to contact subcommittee Chairman Brad Sherman, D-Calif., to “request that balanced, qualified testimony be included in the panel or the session be canceled.”
The Islamic group, which publicly denies overt connections with Hamas, denounced Mr. Emerson’s then-pending testimony as “hate-mongering” and “Islamophobia.” It also attacked his credentials, calling him unqualified to offer testimony before the subcommittee.
During the hearing, Mr. Sherman said prospective grant recipients could be asked to disclose their connections to Hamas, Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I don’t think you can cleanse an organization just because they haven’t sinned recently,” Mr. Sherman said. “It has to be a renunciation of support for terrorism.”
CAIR could not be reached for comment.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008